Monthly Archives: July 2012

Party Planners

In many organizations Human Resources gets the glorious and fulfilling task of handling office parties – from the company picnic to the holiday party to retirement parties, birthdays, anniversaries – the list is endless. It is one of the dirty secrets about HR that is an item pointed to in why we don’t have the furniture we want  – aka that infamous seat at the table.

I view party planning as a way to infuse culture, build good will between colleagues and the various levels of management (hopefully from the low man on the totem pole to the top), as well as a project.

In HR there are always projects and most of them aren’t visible. Sure the handbook is visible, as well as annual enrollment and when someone is let go. (And yes, each is a very involved project with lots of i’s to dot!)

So having such a visible (and positive) project is a feather in the cap of HR. It is our chance to tie the mission and values into action (in addition to the many other things we do!) Just as with project managers we need to understand who our audience is, get their buy in, ensure all the details are right, and execute on time and on budget – under if possible.

This is why I see so much cross over between project managers and the HR functions, be it generalist or a specialist! This is why HR is so enmeshed with operations – that everything HR does directly impacts the bottom line from payroll to finding the balance between how much of benefits the company or employee pays.

So be a party planner. Enjoy it. Look at the transferable skills one develops when  organizing those events and at the morale before and after said event. You make a difference. Take a bow and know it is worth it.

Cultural Agility

Recently Dr Paula Caligiuri posted about a free assessment tool regarding one’s cultural agility. She states the assessment takes 20 minutes, but I was able to complete the registration (instant password email generation) and complete the first part of the assessment in under ten minutes.

Considering both my background – where I’ve been exposed to a great number of cultures, generations, and ways of thinking since a very young age in addition to my involvement with a multinational online book club (the nonprofit I volunteer for) I’m not surprised by the results.

While this post is very meme-like, I still felt it would add value to have more people aware of their cultural agility. And yes, it was fun too!

Explanation of what this all means – each category and my scores – below the cut.

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Value of working from home part I

Home office

Photo credit: Jessica Beaushene


Recently it was brought up that I might want to work in an office, instead of at home. Doing so would mean that all my equipment would be in the office and that my reimbursement for phone/internet would stop. Even if I only spent one day a week in the office.

There are a lot of factors involved. One of which is which building are they talking about? There are four in the city my boss mentioned – and some have pros, others have cons. Most of those one can’t put a value on but I will in a future post – face time, interaction with peers, getting out of the house, better networking, etc.

There are several factors one can put a number on. I was surprised that a quick google search didn’t yield much in the way of what line items to review, to help ensure I was inclusive. I did this on a monthly basis, then extrapolated to a year. The end result was I would need an additional $10,000+ or 20% raise to still bring home the same amount as I am now. That doesn’t include if gas goes (back) up – but then that would be for everyone and shouldn’t be included in projections.

Item Monthly Amount Annual Amount
Gas 120 1440
Travel time  470  5654
Networking lunches 80 960
Phone/Internet 60 720
Car mileage 21 252
Clothes 50 600
Misc 200 2400
Total 12,026

Note: This is all hypothetical and to maintain my current lifestyle/income.

Gas would be an additional 4 tanks of gas a month, averaging $30 a piece. If I use one tank of gas a month now, then it would be easy to speculate that I would do 5 (based on milage, commuting miles, and the extra miles at lunch time) if working in an office.

Travel time is the time I would spend getting to the office and waiting for my computer to boot up to be able to clock in, shutting down after clocking out and driving home. This would be one hour a day, times my hourly rate, times 20 work days a month. Right now I boot the computer then go take a shower or eat breakfast and have a commute time of 30 seconds or less. My time is valuable – might as well value it at the same rate I am being paid for it. 😉

Networking lunches would be both a pro and con. It is not possible to do a networking lunch right now as I am too far away from anyone to make it worth the time and energy to drive to meet them, eat, and get back within an hour. (Aka, there are none right now.) Networking lunches are good to build relationships, maintain relationships, and learn – and they cost. I built a conservative $80/month estimating 2 lunches a week at $10 a piece which is average when doing fast food in this area.  Plus there is the fact that I eat out for lunch once a month now – so doing more lunches out, with coworkers, friends, clients, etc will be an added expense compared to my current situation.

Phone/Internet is partially reimbursed right now since I work from home. If I worked part time in an office (or full time) I would lose this reimbursement. Therefore I would be paying more out of pocket for this – and still be required to have it for business continuity plans.

Car milage is a factor since I have a leased vehicle. I figured out how much I drive on average now versus what I would drive if going into the office daily. I then figured out how much over the miles/year agreement this would cost me. In fact, I leased instead of bought because I was under the impression I would have low mileage by working from home. Had I known I would be going into the office – even the closer of two offices – I would have either bought or gotten a higher miles/year contract. (Hind sight, eh?)

Clothes are important, especially when my last office was business casual but the potential new office is professional dress. Building in extra to add to my wardrobe and maintain it is essential. The amount projected here is jokingly low balled.

Miscellaneous is the important category. This is the value I gave to things such as sleeping in late and showering during my lunch break, swearing at my computer over a dumb email, the fact I didn’t call in because a 30 second walk is a big difference than a 20 minute drive when one is sick – and one can lie down in between calls to reserve strength, the ease of getting a snack/lunch/drink of water because I live at home, doing laundry in between calls/cases (or emptying the dishwasher or writing holiday cards), easily making calls for appointments on my other land line or cell phone, having cell reception to call and text, and easily utilizing my laptop to multitask and keep things like reading my Google reader off of the work computer. You know, that infamous work life balance. I again low balled this at $10/day (times 20 work days a month.)

That is pretty impressive when one considers the benefits of working from home. Not entirely surprising either since the additional $10k would place me as an accurate comparable salary for my position and area (thank you,!) and that last year 40% of employees surveyed said they would take a pay cut to telecommute. Can you think of any other items that should be on that list? Do you agree with the method to obtain the numbers?

I’m working on a part two that shows the benefits of going into the office, which when merged with this data will paint a more complete picture.

We get it, be social

For years now Facebook has been asking its users to like things – and companies have utilized that data for advertisements and monetization. Other companies have also found ways to make money off of the social media thing. (I say thing, because I see it progressing to something more. This stage is just a phase that will only get more complex and integrated into our lives as the years march on.)

There are several examples of companies doing social media right and wrong. We can state that with Curtis Midkiff at the helm, the industry of Human Resources is joining that of news media, entertainment, and weather.

To me this begs three questions – in addition to making sure our companies are compliance, doing the right thing, and being strategic – how do we get them to get  them to do social media correctly more often? Also, what other industries have a myriad of individual adopters to promote and educate their industry via social media?  Can we separate individuals from their organizations when they aren’t ‘celebrities’ in their own right?

I’m going to go out on a limb here and state that within the next 2-5 years not only will company social media policies be created more often, they will be drastically different than we have today. Similar to how there are airline passenger bill of rights, there will also be social media bill of rights. I’d also like to see software/apps that are more intuitive in their filters to keep up with and tailor more what you want to see/use. I’d also like to see more respect for privacy and ways for introverts that have trouble diving in and keeping up to not be left by the wayside; same for those who don’t have smart phones or those who are tech-lite.

So I guess what I’m saying is that, we have reached a point where we are in a good place. It is time to decide where we are taking this next and how to get there.


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I forget how it came up, really. The end result was that the nonprofit I volunteer for wanted to begin doing exit interviews and I was tasked with coming up with a policy. Being the thorough person I am, I also came up with a procedure and tracking forms – including sample questions.

I thought I had done a great job and once it was reviewed and approved, rolled it out. We all know what happens when a new procedure gets implemented right? Everyone questions it! Why do we do this? What do I do in this instance? Or that instance?

Luckily, I had built in flexibility. The nonprofit is internet based (social book club) and 100% volunteer driven – which means that a lot of flexibility is needed with how things are done and time lines. I had tried to be specific and helpful as also with volunteers not everyone has management experience.

While in a profit organization, or an organization with employees the roll out would have gone smoother and easier, I appreciated the push back. It helped me grow and adapt the policy to better fit the organizational needs. Let’s face it, even having been a member for 10 years and in the administration of it for 4+ years doesn’t mean I saw all sides of things.

So here is a take away for you – do you test out new policies/procedures with a focus group? Even once implemented are you flexible in how it is done to achieve the end result?