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Hunter Lott was a recent guest speaker to my CEO Board of Advisors.  He spent three hours sharing human resource strategies.  Hunter specializes in delivering business presentations and training on the legal aspects of management and employment practices.  He is the author of the book Please Sue Me.  Here are some highlights from his talk.

  • Historically, coming out of a recession turnover of your key talent goes up two to five times normal!  This is because of how they were treated during the tough times.  Sure, you didn’t fire them but you expected them to take up the slack and so they were worked hard.  What are you doing to save these key people.
  • Most employees start thinking about leaving on the first day.  This is primarily due to your orientation process because in most cases it doesn’t exist or if it does it is usually having them shadow a person for a day or two.  Most companies celebrate when people leave the company.  Hunter suggests celebrating when they start.  Give them something to remember.  What can you do to improve your orientation process so new employees feel this is a great place to work?
  • In a recent survey 65% of employees report that they have not been given so as much as a “thank you” from their immediate supervisor in the last year.  Seems like we are quick to criticize and slow to compliment.  Hunter suggests doing little things to show appreciation.  Hand out $25-$50 gift cards (coffee, books, stores) spontaneously when an employee does something well or out of the ordinary.  Make it public so everyone “gets it”.  And hold company functions to show your appreciation (barbeques, pizza, picnics).
  • You can no longer have a mandatory retirement age.  So your older employees may decide to stay on longer than you anticipated.  Are you planning for that?
  • In a recent survey 80% of 2009 college graduates went back home!  Are you prepared for your boomerang kid?
  • As CEO you have on average 66 interruptions a day!  Cell phone calls, email alerts, employees needing your time.  No wonder it doesn’t feel like you got anything done today.
  • Get rid of “probationary period” for new employees in your handbook.  You lose your ability to fire “at will” once they pass their probationary period.   This doesn’t apply to union employees.
  • Don’t call them “layoffs”.  It means callback.  Call it a “reduction in force” or “job eliminations” unless you outright fired the person.
  • Unauthorized overtime MUST be paid.  In California the state can go back four years and double the damages.  So people working during their lunch hour or from home are examples of this even if they don’t put it on their time card.
  • Lunch must be 30 minutes of uninterrupted time even if they volunteer to shorten it.
  • Your biggest legal exposure will be a wage and hour audit.  As an employer you should log on to and see what the federal government is doing about ensuring your employees are being treated equally.
  • Over 60% of companies have adopted a PTO (Paid Time Off) policy and include vacation, sick time, and bereavement time in it.  The average worker takes 5 sick days and 13 days of vacation a year so you could start with 18 days a year.  PTO takes away all of the hassle of monitoring what an employee’s time off was used for.  It is much easier to manage because you are only tracking days and not reasons.  And you should cap it so someone doesn’t accumulate too many days.
  • Finally Hunter shared several stories that made the news about companies performing badly especially regarding discrimination.  His message…ask yourself “Would I want this on ‘60 Minutes’ or YouTube?”  With today’s technology it seems like everything is captured on video.  If you won’t be proud of it don’t do it!

Be safe out there!

Consider Reading This

First, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman.  After more than 80,000 interviews of great managers these two consultants from the Gallup organization challenge commonly held beliefs on how to lead people.  Read this if you want to learn how to keep your best people.