impactnews: Q&A on the Workplace Today with impactHR’s Tracey Ellison

In last month’s impactnews, we were delighted to announce Tracey Ellison, MS, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, has joined impactHR as Senior HR Consultant, Client Services. In a very short time, Tracey has become an invaluable colleague in our office, as well as a dedicated partner with our clients.

With this in mind, we’re very happy to have had the chance last week to get 20 minutes of Tracey’s time between client visits and phone meetings to discuss her philosophy and strategic advice in regard to HR and the workplace today.

impactnews: What dynamic led to your interest in being a human resources professional?

Tracey Ellison

Tracey Ellison, MS, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, Senior Consultant, Client Services, impactHR

TE: It was serendipity – and it’s amazing how many HR people I know who have gotten their start in another vertical and somehow their path led to HR.

impactnews: What areas of HR do you consider most critical for companies to be on top of?

TE: I think it’s a toss-up between compliance and retention – and with retention I’m talking about creating a culture where engagement is top of mind to all leaders – not just senior leaders. And this goes for employees as well who may think to themselves: “what can I do each and every day in my role with the organization that makes a difference and contributes to our mission and vision?”

The other part related to retention is career pathing – and this is especially true for Generation Z and millennials in the workforce. They want to understand within the organization “where’s my path and how am I going to get there?” And it’s not a ten-year plan – it’s a two-year plan max.

And if I have in mind where I think my path should lead and my leader either hasn’t talked about it with me or doesn’t agree with it (and hasn’t had a conversation with me) – that disconnect can lead to my disengagement and potentially leaving the organization.

impactnews: in looking ahead, what trends related to HR do you see coming? What’s around the corner?

TE: I think the most successful employers are those thinking about multiple ways to position their employees for success. This may encompass providing opportunities for them to work remotely – also opportunities to set start and end times – that meet the employee’s needs. Let them take on a new project or add some additional responsibility to their position. Have some fun at work and give your people the chance make a difference and contribute to the overall success of the company regardless of one’s role.

impactnews: What kind of strategic business advice do you give to executives and to clients? Is there an overarching theme you like to impart about positioning a company for success?

TE: Every single day, think: how can I re-recruit and re-engage my employees and, in some cases, my leaders? If you’ve got an actively disengaged leader, for example, that can spread trouble throughout the organization. So, as a CEO or a CFO, you want to keep this top of mind every single day and make sure your organization’s culture supports people, values people and wants people to be part of a solution.

Stay in tune with your employees, and get to know what’s important to them. They’ll appreciate your asking. Let them help solve organizational challenges. And really be open to the mindset that what got you here today may not be what gets you to where you want to go.

To reiterate in a way, one of the things that should keep executives up at night is “how am I re-recruiting and re-engaging my workforce every single day?” And to add to that: “how do I make this a place where people want to be and have the opportunities to do great things?”

I often talk with executives about how it’s important to model the behavior necessary to develop a healthy workplace culture. Your employees have to see you’re living your values. They have to see it’s genuine and sincere.

Read more about Tracey

5 Ways to Develop an Effective Employee Coaching Program

New employee orientation and job-specific training serve critical purposes in the HR function. Employee coaching, however, is another important and valuable HR initiative that tends to be overlooked in the day to day life of an organization, writes impactHR’s Kelly Mitchell in a new blog post.

A business owner, for example, may think coaching an employee is too difficult or time-consuming. Ultimately, though, it’s an executive’s leadership, experience and lessons-learned (read: coaching) that can help create a great team of inspired, productive and loyal employees.

Employee coaching, ideally, involves executives and managers meeting regularly with employees to discuss and explore each employee’s career goals and development. Learn more

impactHR Hosts Panel, Sponsors 2018 Women’s Leadership Conference

impactHR’s Kelly Mitchell will lead a panel session on “Succeeding and Soaring in Male Dominated Fields” at the 2018 Women’s Leadership Conference (WLC), Thursday, March 8, at the DoubleTree Hotel Columbia.

The panel, part of a day-long conference titled HERstory: Leading Women to Greatness, comprises Susan Brown, Laboratory Ombudsman, Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory; Sallie Sweeney, Principal Cyber Solutions Architect, GDIT; and Debra Cruz, Managing Partner, Levin & Gann Law.

The WLC, which features a distinguished group of women leaders in a range of professions in the Greater Baltimore-Washington region, aims to recognize “the contribution of phenomenal women leaders and their effect on regional business growth as well as inspire all attendees to better and more effective leadership.”

impactHR is once again a sponsor and exhibitor in support of the 2018 WLC, hosted each year by the Howard County Chamber of Commerce. To learn more and to register, visit:

Private Sector Employers: New Rules Issued for Classifying Interns Properly

As spring nears, it’s a good time to decide whether to host interns in your workplace. For private sector employers, note one important regulatory change to factor into your planning: new federal rules were issued recently in regard to classifying interns properly as unpaid labor or as employees entitled to minimum wage and overtime pay.

The DOL’s Wage and Hour Division last month released a new Fact Sheet, requiring private-sector employers to use a seven-factor “primary beneficiary test” to help determine whether an intern is an employee or not under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

This test, according to DOL, is based on the “economic reality” of the intern-employer relationship, which is intended to help determine who is the “primary beneficiary” of the relationship. This new rubric, developed in the aftermath of several recent appellate court decisions, aims to give employers more flexibility in making this internship determination to stay in FLSA compliance.

The DOL says this new test should serve as a guide (rather than a strict mandate) for employers. Under the previous six-factor test, established during the Obama administration, each of the six factors had to be met in full to classify interns as unpaid labor. Learn more

Minimum Wage Increases for MD, DC on the Horizon, Beginning July 1

As a quick heads up, employers in Maryland and the District of Columbia (DC) should note minimum wage increases going into effect this July 1.

For Maryland, the state’s minimum wage will rise to $10.10 per hour – up from the current level of $9.25. For DC, the minimum wage increases to $13.25 (up from the current $12.25) – and will cap at $15 per hour by July 1, 2020.

In addition, Montgomery County, with its own statutory minimum wage of $11.50, will impose a $15 per hour minimum wage in 2021. For Virginia, its minimum wage remains at $7.25 per hour, in line with the federal minimum wage level.

BBB-MD Hosts “Shred Day” April 28 in Baltimore Region

The Better Business Bureau Serving Greater Maryland (BBB-MD) is hosting its 11th Annual Shred Day in Maryland, Sat., April 28, as part of its ongoing campaign to help reduce identity theft.

The BBB-MD last year helped 1,860 attendees destroy 45 tons of personally identifiable documents at its 2017 Shred Day.

The BBB-MD’s Shred Day event this year takes place 8:00am-11:00am in two locations:

Maryland State Fairgrounds, 2200 York Rd, Lutherville-Timonium, MD
IKEA Baltimore: 8352 Honeygo Blvd., Nottingham, MD

Learn more