Why Holocaust Remembrance Matters Now More Than Ever


Every year, I write a blog for SHRM on Holocaust Remembrance.   

This year, Holocaust Remembrance Day (Yom HaShoah) is next week on May 2, 2019.

This year, we are posting the blog early. Reason: so HR has time to consider some sort of Holocaust commemoration.

During the Holocaust, more than 11 million human beings were systematically murdered.  Plus, millions more died in battle. That includes American, British and other brave military forces that sacrificed their lives to save the lives of others.

Of course, every life is a universe. Every loss of life matters equally.

But the Holocaust had a disproportionate effect on the European Jewish community. Six out of nine million European Jews were murdered—the percentage is beyond staggering.   

This is personal to me. Most of my family was killed in the Holocaust and that forever informs my worldview.

Those who were saved also informs my worldview. My cousin’s mom was saved by a Catholic Church at great risk to those who were part of its community.

While I write about Holocaust remembrance every year, this year feels different. The meme #Neveragain feels less certain.

Last year, there was the massacre of 11 Jews at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. Plus, there has been a meteoric spike in hate crimes against Jews across the globe in general and in the United States in particular (both before and after the Pittsburgh massacre).

Almost every week, if not every day, we see defacement of public or private property with Nazi swastikas. Indeed, we can find on line Nazi clothing and genocide games. 

For many Jewish employees, anxiety over antisemitism is materially higher. This may be even more so for those whose families were personally affected by the Holocaust.

Now: what can HR do? One way to do so is simply to post on your Intranet a remembrance statement. You can find words and images all over the Internet.

This is also an ideal topic for a diversity and inclusion program. One option to consider: invite a survivor to speak. Bear witness to someone who did.

There are so many things that HR can do. I ask only that you do something.

After the Tree of Life attack, I attended an interfaith service at my synagogue. People of all faiths, races and ethnic backgrounds were there.

I heard from Jewish, Catholic, Protestant and Muslim clergy. Political leaders from both political parties and leaders of various racial and ethnic groups who were not Jewish made sure, along with the choir of clergy, that their Jewish brothers and sisters were not alone.

I was particularly touched by the words of a Lutheran Pastor. She said, in effect:

  1.  When anything bad happens to any of us, it happens to all of us.
  2.  When we do anything good for any of us, we do something good for all of us.

Holocaust remembrance days provides all organizations with an opportunity to remind their employees of these universal truths.

I close with a quote from Holocaust survivor Eli Wiesel:

"We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented."

Leaders cannot be silent.



#Nextchat: What Would You Do with More Time?


Do you feel like some of the time you spend at work is being wasted? You’re not alone! As it turns out, many employees could probably get their jobs done in shorter workdays, but inefficient processes, interruptions, meetings and other daily distractions hamper the ability to focus and to complete the work that needs to get done.

According to a global survey of nearly 3,000 employees across eight countries conducted by The Workforce Institute at Kronos Inc., nearly half (45 percent) of full-time workers say it would take less than five hours each day to do their job if they worked uninterrupted, while three out of four employees (72 percent) would work four days or less per week if pay remained constant. Additionally, 71 percent of employees say work interferes with their personal life, cutting into time for family, exercise and professional development.

Administrative Work Impacts Efficiency

The report found that “nearly nine in 10 employees (86 percent) say they lose time each day on work-specific tasks unrelated to their core job, with 41 percent of full-time employees wasting more than an hour a day on these extraneous activities. Additionally, 40 percent of employees say they lose an hour-plus each day on administrative tasks that do not drive value for their organization.”

What do people waste the most time on at work each day? Fixing a problem not caused by me (22 percent) and administrative work (17 percent) were the top two answers given by full-time employees. Meetings (12 percent), e-mail (11 percent) and customer issues (11 percent) rounded out the top five time-wasters.

According to Joyce Maroney, executive director of The Workforce Institute at Kronos, “The biggest takeaway of this research isn’t that we should move to a shorter workweek or that we need a time machine to get all our work done. It’s clear that employees want to work and do well by their employers, and many roles require people to be present or on call during specific hours to get the job done—such as teachers, nurses, retail associates, plant workers, delivery drivers and nearly all customer-facing roles. Organizations must help their people eliminate distractions, inefficiencies and administrative work to enable them to work at full capacity. This will create more time to innovate, collaborate, develop skills and relationships, and serve customers while opening the door to creative scheduling options, including the coveted four-day workweek.”

If you had a four-day workweek, what would you do with the time? What prevents you from being productive at work, and how can better time management help create extra time in the day and during the week for better work-life fit?

Please join @shrmnextchat at 3 p.m. ET on April 24 for #Nextchat with special guest Joyce Maroney (@WF_Institute), executive director of The Workforce Institute at Kronos. We’ll chat about the distractions that lengthen and complicate our workdays as well as time management tips and productivity hacks to help get some of that time back.

Q1. What would you do if you could get more hours back in your workday, and how would you spend that time at work (or outside of work)?

Q2. What does “work-life fit” mean to you, and would a four-day workweek help to achieve it? What else is important to achieving work-life fit?

Q3. What are the major distractions in your workplace that keep you from being fully productive?

Q4. What are your best productivity hacks for making work more efficient and effective? What technology or applications help you keep track of deadlines, to-dos and personal checklists?

Q5. What are your best time management tips, and what is most helpful when you feel you are being pulled in multiple directions?

Q6. What are your tips for meetings—either for deciding whether to call one or for keeping them efficient, useful and on track?

Q7. What strategies do you use to define—and respect—boundaries between your work life and personal life?

Q8. How can #HR pros help encourage healthy and productive time management practices to help prevent burnout?


How to participate in an HR Twitter chat






Meet #StateLineCrew #SHRM19 Blogger – Mary Williams


The #StateLineCrew is an informal group of human resources professionals primarily from Southern Wisconsin and Northern Illinois that meet regularly near the Wisconsin-Illinois “state line” to network, share stories and ideas, support one another, and bond over food and beverages. The group formed shortly after the 2018 SHRM Annual Conference & Exhibition in Chicago and continues to evolve.

Four #StateLineCrew members (Paul LaLonde, Kyra Matkovich, Jeff Palkowski, and Mary Williams) will be participating as part of the #SHRM19Blogger Team at the 2019 SHRM Annual Conference & Exhibition in Las Vegas.

Read more about the #StateLineCrew from our previous SHRM Blog post “Meet the #StateLineCrew – Introduction.”

Now, meet #StateLineCrew #SHRM19 Blogger, Mary Williams…

What is your day job?

I am a Regional Manager Business Operations and HR for Harbor Light Hospice. Harbor Light Hospice operates in nine states under a philosophy of care that provides support and dignity to patients with life-limiting illness and their loved ones during end-of-life. I am responsible for HR functions for four locations in the state of Illinois and nearly 200 employees statewide. I am dedicated to developing and implementing well-organized processes and has extensive experience as and HR Department of One creating structure within an organization.

What is your experience/involvement with SHRM?

I enjoy giving back to the HR community by serving on the board of my local SHRM chapter, DuPage SHRM, as Registration Director. I am a member of national SHRM. This is my second year as a member of the SHRM Blogger team.

What are you most looking forward to as a #SHRM19Blogger?

This is my 2nd year as a member of the SHRM blogger team - and I am SO EXCITED to introduce my fellow #StateLineCrew Members to the rest of the blogger squad and the experiences they have ahead of them. I have started my interviews with the speakers and vendors and am looking forward to another year of learning and mixing and mingling with other HR professionals who are equally ignited for this profession. The national SHRM conference is an amazing experience!!

Name one speaker or session that you are most looking forward to at #SHRM19.

This is a tough question.... and only choosing one is next to impossible. I am really looking forward to seeing Brene’ Brown present - this will be my first opportunity to see her in person, I have been a follower and reader of Brene's books for a while now and am really looking forward to her presentation. Another one that I'm looking forward to is Kevin Cope - Acumen Learning - (see my Speaker SpotLight Q&A post with Kevin on the SHRM blog.. - His session is Seeing the Big Picture - Business Acumen to Build Your Credibility, Career & Company how HR Pros can and should develop our Business Acumen and learn our businesses and why this is important.

What does the #StateLineCrew mean to you?

The #StateLineCrew means so much to me! I take time out of my schedule and prioritize our meet-ups because it's not always what you get, it's what you give! I am inspired and enriched by these HR professionals. If I need a pep talk about how to navigate change management - they all rise to the challenge and let me unpack the issue together... and we discuss best practice, possible approaches that could work. Discussions are all extremely supportive, constructive and meaningful.

Connecting intentionally and actively has been enriching and inspiring. I know they will be there for me and I am certainly there for them. These authentic connections - meeting in real life - are so very important. It's pretty amazing to have a dynamic and active and close network upon which I can call if I have a need, or just need to bounce an idea... what a tremendous comfort! AND, likewise, I am there for them to be that listening supportive ear whenever needed.




Helping a Good Employee Who Hits a Rough Patch


One of our employees, who has been a steady, solid performer the last two years, suddenly erupted in anger at one of our clients during a company event. Granted, the client is difficult and the event had all of us stressed out, but that’s no excuse to lose one’s temper and get into a shouting match. We immediately suspended him without pay.

Since then we’ve learned from coworkers that he’s dealing with stress by drinking. What should we consider as we try to decide whether to fire him or let him come back?

Suspending him without pay while you’re trying to figure out the situation is a good choice. While emotions run high, I always recommend suspending instead of “firing on the spot”. A suspension allows you to carefully choose a decision after learning all the facts, and avoids you having regrets later for having acted too rashly.

Below are some factors to weigh that will help you decide:

Value - You say he’s been there 2 years, which means he’s probably knowledgeable and you’ve made an investment in his training and development. Does this make him a keeper?

History - Is this his first offence or is this a repeat pattern? Is he well respected? or is he perceived as a hot-head? Does he have good relationships with clients and colleagues? Did you expect this or did it appear to come out of the blue?

Help available. If you were to keep him, what’s the level of support you can provide for him getting some help? For instance, does your company have access to an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) that provides therapy or substance abuse treatment? You can make this a condition of employment. In other words, you can allow him to keep his job as long as he agrees to participate in the EAP.

Note: Be careful here if you make a referral, to do so only for a generic EAP assessment and not for a “substance abuse” program, in other words stay away from labeling or diagnosing him. Let the pros at EAP determine what he needs. His treatment will remain confidential, you’ll only know whether he’s participating.

Kudos for carefully considering your decision. He may simply be a good employee who is going through a rough time and needs some help.


Originally posted on HR Box.



Meet the #StateLineCrew #SHRM19 Bloggers- Introduction

Paul LaLonde, Mary Williams, Jeff Palkowski, and Kyra Matkovich

How do four human resources professionals who had never met one another less than a year ago end up heading to the 2019 SHRM Annual Conference & Exposition as members of the #SHRM19 Blogger Team and more importantly, as great friends? It is still a whirlwind as we look back about how all this transpired over the past year, but here is our brief story.

Turn back the calendar to June, 2018…Other than some passing online interaction through social media, Kyra Matkovich, Mary Williams, Paul LaLonde, and I (Jeff Palkowski) each independently headed to the 2018 SHRM Annual Conference & Exposition in Chicago, Illinois having never met one another. While Kyra was a veteran annual conference attendee, for Mary, Paul and I, it would be our first SHRM annual conference. There were no specific plans to meet each other IRL (in real life), knowing that we would be just a mere four individuals among 20K+ attendees.

As it would turn out, I would meet Paul first on Sunday night, almost by accident (thanks to fellow #SHRM19Blogger Claire Petrie) in a Chicago pub; then Kyra at a 7 a.m. Monday morning session by Melanie Peacock; and then finally Mary at the SHRM #NextChat reception in the Blogger Lounge on Tuesday since Mary was a member of the #SHRM18 Blogger Team. We all connected together one last time at our final session of the conference presented by Steve Browne and then each left the conference headed our separate ways home.

Fast forward to one year later, Kyra and her family decided to relocate from Colorado to Wisconsin and she and I now work in the same city and also serve together as board members on the Wisconsin SHRM State Council. Eventually, we all found the opportunity to connect and meet with Mary, Paul, and several other SHRM members located in Southern Wisconsin and Northern Illinois and an informal group that we have appropriately dubbed the #StateLineCrew was born. Now, in June 2019, these four former strangers will now head out to Las Vegas together to represent the #StateLineCrew as supportive colleagues, close friends and all members of the #SHRM19Blogger Team!

Much like our unplanned interactions at #SHRM18, the #StateLineCrew also was created almost by chance. As I recall, as Mary, Paul and I realized that we all lived within a few hours from each other, we thought it would be great to connect at some point to continue our networking in person after the conference. Later that summer, I sent out a random tweet just to see who might be interested in an informal meetup and eventually, a date and location was set.

For our first “official” #StateLineCrew meetup in September, 2018 Alyssa Hernandez from Wisconsin and Rhonda Owens from Illinois joined Mary, Paul and I for a brewery tour and lunch in Milwaukee. From these humble beginnings since that first meetup, the #StateLineCrew has convened nearly every other month at locations in either Wisconsin or Illinois. Several more SHRM friends have joined us along the way (Callie Zipple, Marianne Stiemle, John Jorgenson, Erich Kurschat) and we continue to welcome anyone who want to network and support each other as HR pros and friends on a Saturday afternoon.

If there was any lesson that I think that we all learned from this journey it is that if we choose to connect, share, and support each other, and if it is done “on purpose”, our human nature will drive us to make the time and find positive ways to do so. I’m sure that the #StateLineCrew concept is not unique and one that we hope to hear about from other areas. Remember, our #StateLineCrew started with a simple tweet.

Be sure to check back on the SHRM Blog as we highlight each of our four #StateLineCrew #SHRM19Blogger Team members in upcoming posts!


Originally posted on HR Sushi Bar blog.



Three Reasons People in Drug Recovery Can Make Great Employees


Twelve years ago I overcame meth addiction. I remember the feeling like it was yesterday. I reached three months sober and the world around me seemed to change over night. I started to see things with more color, food tasted better, and things felt brand new. I had woken up from what seemed to be nothing more than a nightmare and right back into my 15 year-old mindset with a desire to explore what the world had to offer because I wanted more. I had no more time to waste once I realized the power of opportunity with a sober mind.

Today, I have a staffing agency for second chances, which helps felons and people in recovery land background friendly jobs. We interview hundreds of people a month who have a history of addiction and have learned a lot about the work ethic that comes with recovery.

1. We have something to prove. 

I can confidently tell you that most of my accomplishments in early recovery came from the will to not only prove others I could do it, but to prove it to myself. Often times, people in recovery feel they've been labeled as the "black sheep" of the family or put in a certain category that they no longer want to be known for. We will strive to work harder than our coworkers because we have it in our minds that we have a lot of loss time to make up for. We have also given up the highs we receive from drug addiction so reaching goals and winning releases the dopamine our brain craves. 

2. We like to stay busy. 

Giving up an addictive lifestyle means a lot of free time and not knowing what to do with it. It is a full time job being a drug addict. You spend your days looking for drugs, buying drugs, selling drugs and doing drugs. Getting sober can cause an extreme amount of anxiety, depression and loneliness. When I first got sober, I did not know what to do with my free time because I didn't have the friends I had when I was using and I hadn't made new friends yet. I was not ready to be alone with my own thoughts and boredom was a serious threat to my sobriety. I poured into my work and asked my employer to give me extra projects so I could stay busy during the nights and weekends. I literally asked for overtime work without pay, and that's what we witness with our employees in recovery every single day.

3. We are grateful

The depth of depression is deep with addiction. Everyone's "rock bottom" looks different, but it usually looks a lot like having nothing left, including shelter, transportation, or even freedom. Life will always have it's lemons, but the lemonade is always sweeter living in recovery. People who have overcome drug addiction are usually grateful of all life's experiences, including the bad. We actually don't mind dealing with the tough stuff because we are happy we are alive and able to. For us, no day can be worse than the day we last used.

One thing to remember when practicing second chance hiring is to keep the struggle of recovery in mind. If you have a workplace with a strong drinking or party culture, it's probably not a good fit. While we make great employees, that's only true so long as we are sober. Remember that for us, recovery is a daily battle we fight. One day at a time. 


This post is part of a series for Second Chance Month, which highlights the need to improve re-entry for citizens returning to society and reduce recidivism. One of the primary ways to do this is by providing an opportunity for gainful employment. To sign the pledge and access the toolkit with information on how to create second chances at your company, visit  






How to Become a Frequent Flier #SHRM19


You may love or hate traveling for work and conferences like SHRM Annual Conference and Exposition (2019) or SXSW, but the fact remains that you can pretty easily travel hack your way to better rooms, better flights, and better perks. Who doesn’t love a deal or free upgrades?

How to Get More Rewards Points, Upgrades, and Frequent Flier Miles

While attending SXSW, I attended the session on how to get the most out of your rewards and travel points, and I thought I’d share the best practices and highlights along with a few of my own favorite travel tips and upgrade hacks. First, we’re going to assume that you’ve signed up for rewards accounts with your favorite spots and just skip to the next step.

1. Get a Credit Card

Getting the right card is critical to your points game. Before you commit, check sites like to see what fits your goals. There are often big bonus offers throughout the year so keep your eyes open for those at things like Once you’re signed up, here are some additional tips for maximizing points:

  1. Shop through their “bonus malls” or shopping portals
  2. Add an authorized user to rack up the dollars and the points
  3. Pay it off every month (to avoid penalties, obviously)
  4. Pick up the dinner tab when you’re out and ask others for cash
  5. Auto-pay your bills or rent on the card

Personally, my favorite credit card is American Express. I use it to pay for everything, and because of my frequency of use, I am able to get VIP access to reservations, services, and other perks first before everyone else.

2. Book Hotels Through Sites Like Rocketmiles, Pointshound

Getting bonus points for booking something you were already going to book? Yes, please! Both RocketMiles and PointsHound do just that. Book your hotel through their portal, choose your rewards program, and watch the points roll in. The cost for the hotel is similar but you get added points on whichever loyalty program you choose as a sweet, sweet bonus.

3. Join Dining Programs

Eat and earn through both card dining programs and airline dining programs. Some programs even offer sign up bonuses as an incentive. Link your card and spend dollars dining at the right spots within their reward network in order to hit each tier. Combine these with your reward cards and your Opentable reservations for maximum returns. Opentable is my favorite when traveling especially when I’m looking for fast reservations in cities like Las Vegas, New York, and Austin. 

4. Install Points-Earning Plugins

Most airlines—including United, Southwest, American Airlines— have Chrome and Firefox points plug-ins that allow you to earn miles just by purchasing on partner sites. These little plug-ins or buttons will remind you where you can earn points, help you activate the points, and then see where you’ll get the most mileage for your points. You should get points for buying that $100 instant pot.

5. Be a Loyalist

This may seem counterintuitive but chasing the lowest fare isn’t actually your friend here. It’s much better to be a loyalist. Flying on one or two airlines, patronizing the same hotel or car rental place every trip is the way you level up on status and on points. Take a look at who flies out of your area, which hotel group you actually enjoy staying in, or who has the best rental loyalty plan and stick with it.

You can travel hack in a million different ways but it’s always helpful to have a guide. Subscribe to top sites like Points Guy, Nerdwallet, and Lifehacker. Of course, there are a ton of different sites that will point you in the right direction for the latest and greatest way to earn rewards.

Beyond travel my favorite money saving tip is using the Chrome extension, Honey. Honey helps you find coupon codes, discounts, and deals not just on travel but on anything you buy online. I recently saved $50 a print order for my Social Siesta party as part of SXSW. While these tips and tricks take time to implement, they pay off longer term.


Originally posted on



#SHRM19 Vendor Spotlight: Who is Office Vibe!?


Who is Office Vibe!? Tell us everything, just as you would someone approaching your booth and asking you this question at the 2019 SHRM Annual Conference and Exposition (#SHRM19)  in Las Vegas.

At Officevibe, we believe that the future of work is human. In an era where everyone has equal access to cutting-edge technologies, it’s an organization’s people and the uniquely human capabilities they bring to work every day that will ultimately set them apart.

Built on the science of employee engagement, our solution puts the manager and their team at its heart, focusing on the relationships that most closely affect performance within an organization.

We provide a simple way for organizations to empower managers and their employees with the data-driven insights and actionable learnings needed to create fully engaged teams that deliver exceptional performance. Through seamless pulse surveys and feedback flows we fuel meaningful conversations, inform better decision-making and can help launch impactful new initiatives. And we do it all in a way that creates measurable results perfect for internal or external benchmarking against one of the largest structured employee engagement databases in the world.

Measuring employee satisfaction is a competitive and crowded space! What’s been the key for Officevibe to amass thousands of customers in 100+ countries, and counting?

A few things! We make it a priority to be in constant dialogue with the employees, team managers and HR leaders who use our platform. This helps ensure Officevibe always fits the reality of those using it and allows us to design an experience with user-empathy at its core. We’re big believers that people management is already complicated enough – the solution that helps you do it shouldn’t be.

We also partnered with Deloitte to confirm the scientific validity of our survey model. That means our clients get the most accurate, actionable measure of employee engagement possible, not to mention access to one of the largest structured employee engagement databases in the world.

Finally, we apply our people-first mindset to every customer interaction we have. Our Sales and Support teams work together as a unit to deliver a quality over quantity approach that can be felt by anyone we work with.

I love your story of going from a few employees at GSoft to 180+. That’s crazy growth! I’m curious - during that growth, why is it important that employees have a way to express their feedback anonymously, rather than expressing feedback directly?

Over 230 employees as of our 13th anniversary, in fact! One of the reasons Officevibe was actually developed in the first place was that our company was growing so quickly there was a concern of losing the close-knit culture that had been key to our success.

When you’re part of a small group full of people you’re comfortable with, it can be easier to have confidence in your voice. But as we grew, and new personalities integrated into that group, we realized that not all voices were speaking at the same volume anymore. A layer of optional anonymity in Officevibe’s direct feedback feature was our way of evening that playing field. The insights we gained reinforced the fact for us that while all feedback is useful, honest feedback is invaluable.

The goal is ultimately creating a culture of open communication that leads to trust and team performance. And as we’ve seen with some of our clients over time, the more comfortable employees become sharing insights through Officevibe, the more employees no longer feel the need for that layer of anonymity anymore and remove it.

Let us in on the magic. What’s the employee satisfaction process like at Officevibe? How do you utilize your own tech to retain the best talent?

Building on the point above, it’s all about creating an environment where people can feel connected – both to the organization’s mission, their place within it, and even more importantly to the teams and people they work with every day.

Every team has top performers. Officevibe allows us to understand engagement and satisfaction both at the team level through our pulse surveys, and at the level of each the individual making up those teams through anonymous feedback. We respect that not every employee is the same. Many top performers may also be introverts, and so it’s important to create that sense of psychological safety that allows them to voice opinions and concerns in a way that reflects their personalities.

We listen, we learn, and then we work to improve the areas that need it. For us, that approach hasn’t just helped us retain our top performers, but created an environment that’s raised the bar for performance in all out talent.

Your about us page lists a lot of smart people. What are the biggest challenges you’re facing as a company when helping companies improve employee satisfaction. Because at the end of the day, Gallup still consistently reports that the majority of the workforce is dissatisfied with their work.

I’d say that our challenges aren’t much different from the ones our client companies face every day. Our belief is that it boils down to three main concepts: a willingness to listen deeply, the ability to be empathetic, then to use that empathy to foster an environment of psychological safety.
While these concepts tend to seem clear on the surface, they can be extremely difficult to develop and sustain inside a group of people who interact with each other on a consistent basis. Whether among family and friends, or colleagues working together towards a common goal, our ability as humans to connect with one another is what nourishes strong relationships – which in the workplace translates to employee satisfaction, engagement, and performance.

For anyone who won’t be able to make it to the Officevibe booth in Las Vegas, what do you want them to know?

That we’re always here to talk! Helping organizations engage their teams, connect to their people, and strengthen their cultures is what gets us out of bed in the morning. So, while we would obviously have loved the chance to meet you in person in Las Vegas, if you couldn’t make it but have any questions about what we do, how Officevibe works, or how we can work together – reach out!

Bonus Questions (to potentially be used in various articles on SHRM, Forbes, or other HR related sites)

What are your favorite books?

Start With Why, by Simon Sinek

Dare to Lead, by Brene Brown

The Fearless Organization - Amy Edmondson

What are 1-3 of the best things you’ve implemented at Officevibe that has helped change the course (or culture) of your company?

  • We encourage every team to form their own unique Team Principles. It sounds simple (and it is!) but the results have been amazing when it comes to creating a sense unity and moving past recurring issues. Our content team recently posted the story of how and why we implemented it internally and what resulted, so feel free to check out the Officevibe blog to give it a read.
  • We facilitated a free 2-day Conscious Communication workshop for all of our employees. It’s allowed people to better understand their own personal triggers, those of others, and simple ways to practice empathy whenever speaking to one another.
  • We do our best to give everyone a stake in how our company evolves. We hold “Officevibe Days” yearly, which are essentially huge structured feedback sessions where employees have the chance to step away from their desks, engage with colleagues and leadership, and discuss and feedback on the direction of the company as a group and in breakout sessions.

How do you scale learning and development to help employees grow?

We encourage employees to be proactive! Our goal is to empower employees to feel like it’s not just their manager or our organization that’s responsible for their career or learning path. We want them to have agency in the ways they develop and the skills they learn, so we can help them reflect, and ultimately support them in their growth in a meaningful way.

Building and encouraging internal communities of practice has also shown great results. Peers having a forum to share specialized knowledge with each other is an amazingly effective way to encourage learning and development in a way that shares the responsibility across a team or expertise.





The “Steve Browne Experience” -- #SHRM19 Interview with Steve Browne


You may not know this about me, but I’m a huge music enthusiast who has been the lead singer of a cover band! So, I was “geeked” to talk to mega session speaker Steve Browne – a fellow music freak. Little did I know that our conversation would lead to life lessons and the power of positivity!

You’ve got a wildly popular book, you’re an active blogger, member SHRM Board of Directors, run a global HR network, thought leader, influencer, and clearly very shy! What would you like people who are just being introduced to you to know?

I’m not a conformist, and I am as informal as they come. I am a genuinely curious person. When I walk into a room, I want to know every. single. person. Like I REALLY want to know them. It’s both a blessing and a curse because I feel so compelled to try and reach everyone. I just really enjoy learning about others. People wonder if my being positive is for show or some schtick. It isn’t. I am genuinely this positive almost all of the time in work and life. If people choose to attend my session, I want to make sure to share ideas and advice that I’d use myself.

In the description for your SHRM 2019 Annual Conference and Exposition Mega Session, HR Rising! From Ownership to Leadership, you say that HR has the opportunity to shape, define and implement the people practices that drive a business’s success. And, that the time to move HR from a “support” function to a leadership resource is now.

Can you speak to this, and what attendees will learn from your session?

 In the past I’ve talked about how we need to “own” what we do. Now, we need to lead in all that we do. We need to be self-aware of what we bring to an organization. We need to intentionally step into this and not shy away. Be self-assured. Instead of waiting to be asked, step forward. It’s like the song by Bob Marley, “Get Up, Stand Up”. HR on Purpose was the “Get Up”, now it’s time to “Stand Up.” Dispel the fear that you can’t lead. I don’t think everyone should be a leader, but everyone should lead. If your role is FMLA, then crush it. Lead in what you do, and what will come is credibility through performance. Even though HR is coordinating leadership and development initiatives in our organizations, we need to remember that we should be included in our own personal leadership development. We are not exempt from them.

What are you doing to ensure you continue to grow and develop as a leader?

One thing I do is to surround myself with people who aren’t in HR. I need to learn from business people. I touch these areas daily through my current HR role, but I don’t necessarily “learn” from the folks I work with. I want to learn to speak like operations, marketing etc. Teach me.

Secondly, I’m working on development, not training, teaching our managers on how to better work with people. 90 percent of our days in the workplace is spent with people, I am learning from them. I am developed by hearing what they’re doing and mold it, shape it…learning is ongoing. 

Thirdly, I intentionally connect with people. If I find you, you’re mine. The more people you intentionally meet, the more you’ll find yourself learning from them through that connection.

Looking back on your journey and knowing what you know now, what is one piece of advice you would have given yourself along the way?

Understand how to come out of failure. Failure is inevitable, but no one teaches you how to learn from it. There’s so much shame associated with failure. We tend to fear failure because we feel we’ll be nailed by others. We shouldn’t track and punish failure. We need to help others learn from it. If we did this our organizations would thrive because failure is a certainty. Make it a learning opportunity.

You speak often about turning away from the negative and making the conscious choice to be a person who can change the world. What advice would you give the overworked, overlooked, overwhelmed HR professional who is trying to do that?

It sounds cheesy, but I believe in people who practice HR. I know how challenging it is and we feel that no one is in our corner. I want other HR pros to know that someone believes in you. People want to know they’re cared for. People should be confident that there are others who believe in them as well. Being an HR Department of One is a reality in company, but it’s not true in the profession. You’re not alone, there are many people who want to connect with you. Quit the martyr crap. When did being a martyr ever work in what you do? There’s no reason to be isolated. When you isolate yourself, then the reality of all you have to do will become overwhelming. Reach out and connect with others on purpose.

So, I hear you are an “off the charts music freak.” If you could choose a song for the soundtrack of #SHRM19 this year, what would it be?

Beautiful Day by U2 – because that’s how I feel every day should be for everyone!!