From the archive:What goes in an offer letter?

by Michael Haberman on September 20, 2018 · 2 comments

I read a story in the Human Times, a newsletter from EY, that the shared space company WeWork, has, for the most part, eliminated their use of non-compete agreements. They overreached who they had signing them at the hiring stage. Courts do not like non-competes. So be careful about their use. In fact you need to be careful about what goes into an offer letter. Here is some guidance from my archive.

Offer letters are not the end of negotiations.

Offer letters are not the end of negotiations.

What goes in an offer letter? I get this question more frequently than you might expect. Of course, all you have to do is enter that question in an Internet search and you will find plenty of advice. In fact here is one of the most comprehensive lists I have seen. If you included everything in your offer letter it would be about 14 pages long.

Must be included

All good letters need to have an introduction and a welcome statement. You want to take every opportunity to begin the “engagement” process. The sooner you get people connected the better it will be.

A position title and the wage to be paid are important. One thing that is often a mistake is how the offer is stated. It should be stated in the minimum pay period you pay. If you are paying on an hourly basis, that is easy. Most exempt employees, however, tend to think in terms of annual salary, so you can say something to the effect of “You will be paid $2500 bimonthly, which annualizes out to a $60,000 per year.” Additional compensation possibilities should be included.

Unless you are offering a specific employment contract you want to make sure a statement that employment-at-will is the standard is included.

If the offer is pending successful completion of either a drug test, a medical exam or a background check make sure that notification is included.

A statement about benefits and the eligibility period should be included, but rather than putting all the information in the offer letter you can state that complete information will be covered in orientation.

This is not a comprehensive list, but one thing that needs to be included is a statement on agreements.


Many companies have confidentiality agreements, noncompetes and nondisclosure agreements. Depending on the level of position they agreements may be signed up front or on the employee’s first day of work. If you do the latter it is important to make sure you let the employee know they will be required to sign those agreements. According to Theodore Olsen of Sherman & Howard LLC, in a recent Pennsylvania court decision the court ruled that “the offer letter was not the governing contract, but was basically part of the negotiation process.” The case dealt with an employee violating a non-compete he had signed. He had argued that the offer letter was his contract. The company stated that the employee had signed a binding agreement after he had started work. The PA Supreme Court agreed with the company because in their offer letter they had stated that he would be required to sign “an employment agreement with definitive terms and conditions outlining the offer terms and conditions contained herein.”

So the next time you are crafting an employment offer make sure you include the standards, but also make sure you include this statement about what agreements will be included.


A Lesson from Drucker Replayed: Managing your boss

by Michael Haberman on September 19, 2018 · 0 comments

A management lesson from Peter Drucker.

This post is from the Archive, but I thought it important enough to replay. I get emails and have seen many comments from people about “my boss this… or my boss that…” Well here is a method you can use to help you get away from “things happening to you” and put some element of control in your work life, and for that matter your personal life as well. It won’t be easy.

Everyone has a boss. Many of us have several. Often we would like to have better ones, but if you can’t trade in the boss you can attempt to make the ones you have better. How do you do that? Peter Drucker has some guidance for that process.

The boss list

He said the first step in managing your bosses is to make a list of everyone to whom you are accountable. This list will include everyone who appraises your work and everyone on whom you depend to make your work effective.

The second step in the process it to go to each of these people and ask the question “What do I do that helps you do your job?” Then ask “What do I do that hampers you and makes life more difficult for you?”

The goal

The goal of this process is to enable each of those bosses to “perform as unique individuals according to their working styles.” You want to make each of them feel comfortable that you are “playing to their strengths and safeguarding them from their limitations and weaknesses.” In other words, the best way for you to look good is to make them look good.

This may take some guts for many of you. It will hinge on the relationship you have with your boss. But if you can’t do this then it is an indication this relationship needs to be worked on.


Who is responsible for your career?

by Michael Haberman on September 18, 2018 · 0 comments

Your career is in your hands and may require many hard decisions.

I was reading an article that appeared in an online newspaper called Vox. The article, I spoke to hundreds of American men who still can’t find work, written by Andrew L. Yarrow, took the tack that many men are unemployed because of “society.” As I read the article example after example talked about men who had made bad decisions in their lives and were making little attempt to alter those decisions.

Who is responsible?

The answer to the question in the title is given by Peter Drucker when he says you must take responsibility for your career. He says the corporate ladder no longer exists and the individual must take responsibility and not rely on any particular company. There are ample stories of people who changed their education to improve their positions. This does not mean they got into an Ivy League school and suddenly became successful. I used to be the Chairperson for a program that retrained workers to give them new skill sets in order to become employable. There are hundreds of companies that need  “blue collar” workers, yet these jobs go unfilled because, as one man said in the article that he is not “culturally suited for them.”

As Drucker says “You have to take responsibility for knowing yourself, so you can find the right jobs as you develop …” Seek job counseling. It is out there. Seek education, it is out there, often cheaply or even free. Be willing to let go of what you did before, or what you knew. Be willing to learn something new. There are still public libraries with things called “books” that can improve your knowledge. Quite often what is lacking is the willpower.

Granted it helps to have the support of a family or friends in this endeavor. Unfortunately, many men have alienated their support groups. However, there are groups that will offer support, you just have to seek them out. Yes, I understand this can be a difficult road, but deciding to travel down that road is another one of those decisions that must be made.


New FMLA forms now available

by Michael Haberman on September 17, 2018 · 0 comments

For those of you that use the government provided forms for FMLA designated leave, you may, or may not, have noticed that those forms expired on May 31, 2018. Those forms were temporarily extended. Now, however, new forms have been approved and have been published on the website of the U.S. Department of Labor. These forms are now good until August 31, 2021.

To determine if you are using the correct form look in the upper right corner for the exp date. If you are using an expired form you need to replace it with the new form.

You can find those new forms at


From the archive: Paying Employees During Bad Weather Closings

by Michael Haberman September 14, 2018

Tweet I am forgoing the Future Friday post for today. Weather snowstorms or hurricanes, such as Florence bearing down on the US, there are requirements for paying employees in nasty weather. This archive post, slightly altered, gives some guidance. As [winter continues] the chances for snow and ice [continue] (at least in the Northern Hemisphere) […]

Read the full article →

Are you preparing to notify your employees of their rights?

by Michael Haberman September 13, 2018

Tweet Fifteen years ago Congress passed the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act in 2003 implementing prescription drug coverage under Medicare, commonly known as Part D. It required all employers that offer prescription drug benefits to provide an annual notice to all Medicare-eligible plan participants and qualified beneficiaries before October 15th of each year, […]

Read the full article →

The Rise of Background Screening in the Aftermath of 9/11 What has changed in background screening since that historic day?

by Michael Haberman September 12, 2018

Tweet As we acknowledge the anniversary of September 11th, 2001 I think we can all agree that the world has substantially changed. For employers, we have seen an increase in the use of background checks in the hiring process. As an outcome an increase in the perceived abuse of background checks occurred, resulting in a […]

Read the full article →

Three ways you learn leadership replayed

by Michael Haberman September 11, 2018

Tweet In a class this past weekend we talked about leadership and I suggested to the class one way to learn was to volunteer to be on a nonprofit committee. That made me think of this previous blog. In a blog post published on August 28, 2012 Professor Gianpiero Petriglieri told a story about a […]

Read the full article →

Emotional Intelligence in future generations

by Michael Haberman September 10, 2018

Tweet In a recent class, we covered the subject of emotional intelligence as an HR competency. It has become an oft talked about subject in HR. Emotional Intelligence has been around a long time. People who had it were good at “reading people.” But we went through a long period in HR when we were […]

Read the full article →

Future Friday: Are changes in the view of productivity changing because of technology?

by Michael Haberman September 7, 2018

Tweet Many people still view productivity as getting things done or getting things made. HubSpot’s chief people officer, Katie Burke, sees it differently. In an article in SiliconRepublic, she is quoted as saying: “I prefer thinking about performance and impact. It expands the conversation outside of just what you make, and gives room for the […]

Read the full article →