Celebrating the Solar Eclipse

by Michael Haberman on August 21, 2017 · 0 comments

Will you allow employees a viewing party?

I am taking time off this afternoon to watch the solar eclipse. Just because I can! In Atlanta I will be able to see the sun blocked 97% by the moon. Given my age I will not live long enough to see another one come this way. So it is a once in a life time event.

Many of your employees may want to experience it as well. Unfortunately it is on a work day and the requirements of business may not allow the company to shut down to allow employees that experience.

Not required to shut down

Two attorneys for the law firm Fisher Phillips wrote Total Eclipse At The Job: You Need This Advice More Than Ever, an excellent piece that provides very sound advice to employers. They say:

… for those workers forced to work on August 21, you may want to consider organizing an office event during the peak of the eclipse. After all, although the effects of the eclipse will linger for several hours in many areas, the anticipated totality event will last mere minutes. The majority of businesses can spare this brief amount of time for their workers for the sake of office morale.

You may have some workers that have no interest in this celestial event, they can provide the needed back up for some situations.

They point out that “In the vast majority of situations, you have no legal responsibility when it comes to granting time off, and any employees given the day off will receive the benefit as a workplace privilege, not a right.” They do note that someone may try to claim the time off as part of the religion. If you get someone who claims to be a sun worshipper you need to contact your attorney so you don’t mess up the response to this. The likelihood of getting that religious claim is small.


If you get requests for time off you need to handle them as you would handle any other request for either PTO or just time off. If you have employees who just opt to be absent, or they leave at lunch and don’t come back, deal with it as you would in any other situation not involving an eclipse.

I would recommend you read their article for further information, but at the same time don’t get all twisted in a knot about it. It is a very rare event that has been a long time coming to the US.

In the meantime I am going to enjoy it.


Employees out on FMLA can be a challenge.

Jeff Nowak, friend and attorney, is a specialist in dealing with the Family and Medical Leave Act. I have referenced him a number of times and today I am referring you to a specific blog post of his.

Reduce or eliminate ambiguity

In his post Poorly Implemented FMLA Policies and Procedures are Killing Employers. Don’t Be That Employer, Jeff tells us of two cases that cost the employers dearly. The key message in Jeff’s discussion of both cases is that clarity and lack of ambiguity are important in FMLA policies. Jeff specifically says:

“Let there be no ambiguity as to whether maternity, parental, caregiver, disability or any other kind of paid leave runs concurrently with FMLA leave. The FMLA regulations allow employers to run paid leave concurrently with FMLA, so do it.  And make it crystal clear in your policy.”

Importance of providing notices

In the second case Jeff discusses he tells us of mistakes that the employer made in providing the appropriate notices to employees informing them of their FMLA rights and obligations. A second attorney friend, Eric B. Meyer, also wrote about this same case in What employers can learn from one company’s $747,320.66 FMLA mistake. He also points out the importance of providing notifications to employees requestion leave. He also points out you don’t even have to make up the form. The government provides them to you and you can find them HERE. This case showed how failing to complete a form prohibited an employer from effectively dealing with an employee who missed her return date from leave. There was confusion on what the appropriate date of return was and this lack of clarity ended costing them almost $748,000.

If you are dealing with FMLA it is important that you read both of these blog posts and follow this sage advice from these two attorneys that deal with the stuff ALL the time.

GO NOW! READ and CORRECT your policies and procedures.


Future Friday: The biggest megatrend for the next decade

by Michael Haberman on August 18, 2017 · 0 comments

What HR tasks will AI be taking over from people?

A megatrend is a large trend that deals with large scale change. As I wrote in Future Friday: Can you tell the difference between Fads, Micro Trends, Macro Trends and Megatrends? “Megatrends are the long-lasting, years in developing, things that shift the world.” Gartner has identified three technology megatrends, as they reported in Gartner Identifies Three Megatrends That Will Drive Digital Business Into the Next Decade. These include AI or artificial intelligence; transparently immersive experiences (Virtual reality); and digital platforms which will include the Internet of Things. All of these have been in the works for a while, with increasing impact. Of these three AI is considered to be they most disruptive.

How disruptive will AI be?

According to Gartner “AI is changing the way in which organizations innovate and communicate their processes, products and services AI continues to drive change in how businesses and governments interact with customers and constituents.“ Additionally, they observe:

At some online publications, financial summaries and sports recaps are written by artificial intelligence (AI), not humans. In the medical field, thanks to “computer-assisted diagnosis,” a computer was able to spot 52% of breast cancers based on mammography scans up to one year before the women were officially diagnosed. In some organizations, AI decides which sales opportunities are worthy of a salesperson’s time.”

It is being used heavily in deciding which candidates will be the best hires for expanding companies.

They predict that “by 2020, 20% of companies will dedicate workers to monitor and guide neural networks.” This will require new skills and a new way of thinking about problems.

They also predict that AI innovation will not come from big companies, with start ups taking the leadership role by 2019, a mere year and a half way. It is a fair bet that many of these start ups will focus on “people issues”.

So AI is going to be very disruptive and HR is going to be both the victim and beneficiary of this disruption.


Don't just listen, practice silence as well.

Don’t just listen, practice silence as well.

I was able to read and finish a book on a flight to a conference in Las Vegas last week. The book is Dave Kerpen’s The Art of People. It is a very readable book chocked full of pretty sound advice. The subtitle of the book is “11 Simple People Skills That Will Get You Everything You Want”, though that is divided into 53 total tips. I think this should be mandatory reading for everyone in HR, particularly if they are just starting out.

Be interested

Kerpen’s Tip number four is one that I have heard before and used. It has its roots in Dale Carnegie who said “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”  Kerpen sums it up by saying “It is more important to be interested than to be interesting.” I totally agree with this and have said it numerous times and I try to apply it as much as possible.

It is more important to be interested than to be interesting.

Shut up and listen

One fault many managers and HR people have is that they love to hear themselves talk. Unfortunately, when a person talks he reduces his capacity to listen. Kerpen proved to himself the importance of listening by announcing at the beginning of a management meeting that he would not be speaking, he was going to listen only. He said that as a result of sitting back and listening he “…gained more insight in just one hour than I had in weeks. And they [his team] felt more understood, empowered, and respected than ever before – and it made them like me better as a boss, as well!”

Active listening

The key to this is both active listening, a tip we read all the time, and practicing silence. Resist the temptation to talk. If it is necessary you can respond by asking questions such as “What else?” or by saying “Tell me more.” I remember a story told by a writer and speaker where he said he had sat with a woman who was on vacation and just listened to her. At the end of an hour he had to leave but when they parted ways she told him he was the most interesting man she had met all vacation, despite that all he had done was asked questions.


Try silence and see what it gets you. Employees may open up more and you may learn a great deal more than if you spend all your time talking and “telling” them.



HR Carnival – Summer heat

by Michael Haberman August 16, 2017

Tweet I have not hosted an HR Carnival for about a year. I am happy to do it again. There are some great posts in this edition. I did not specify a theme but most of them seem to have a leadership theme. Hmmm… I wonder what that may be related to? So without further […]

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That maximum leave policy you have is now no good

by Michael Haberman August 15, 2017

Tweet Many companies have leave policies that invoke a 12 month limit on the leave, after which the employee on leave is terminated. I have worked with long-term disability policies that had similar provisions. If you have such a policy you may want to rethink it, the EEOC just settled a case that shows they […]

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Some top “Have you” questions to ask yourself

by Michael Haberman August 14, 2017

Tweet I am a big fan of Tom Peters, especially of the book featured in the picture. As you can tell from the tabs I found a lot of his statements interesting and blog post worthy. In fact I have written many a blog post using something from this book as inspiration. When I picked […]

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Future Friday: Will “Human skills” be enough in the future?

by Michael Haberman August 11, 2017

Tweet I, and others, have written about the necessity of keeping the “human” component in in the jobs of the future. That is going to be the only way to preserve work for humans as artificial intelligence advances. I wrote about this in Future Friday: Why it will be important for jobs to be more […]

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Should you get paid to put on your Mickey Mouse costume?

by Michael Haberman August 10, 2017

Tweet In late July a Disney employee filed a lawsuit alleging that the company was violating the FLSA by not paying employees for the time it took them to put on their uniforms. This is an area that falls under the “doffing and donning” rules in the FLSA that have been litigated numerous times. The […]

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Company Changes? Use Technology to Smooth the Path

by Michael Haberman August 9, 2017

Tweet Today’s post is brought to you by my friends at SocialMonster.org. It’s been said that the only constant in life is change. But change is hard. And while the idea of a new technology tool or a switch in organizational structure can be appealing, the actual execution of such changes can be tumultuous. One […]

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