What’s New in HR?

8 Thoughts on Selecting an HRIS or Payroll Management System

Revised August 2022

August 28, 2017

Recently, I conducted a webinar on HRIS and Payroll Management Systems.  As leaders, we need to have a clear understanding of organizational needs for these systems.  Is the organization prepared to implement a new system or upgrade to a different system?  Are either of the systems necessary for the success of the organization?  Will it make the organization more efficient?  Are we prepared to pay for the new system?  Can we internally manage the new system?  There are many questions to consider prior to purchasing a system or buying software. 

Below are 8 thoughts on selecting an HRIS or Payroll management system:

  1. Organizational assessment:  Do you have the resources inhouse to select a system or should an external consultant (neutral) guide the organization through the process?
  2. Organizational needs:  How would a new system work within the strategic plan of the organization?  Who is responsible for processing payroll?  Which reports do we need?  Turnover, terminations, new hires, Affirmative Action and other compliance reports.  Do we want an employee-self service module?  What about cellphone aps?  Will employees enroll in benefits on the new system?  Is it just for payroll processing?  What about all these modules?
  3. Project planning:  What is the budget for the new system?  Do we have IT support to manage the new system?  Do we have server space for the new system?  Do we have the time to invest in project planning and project implementation?  As we approach the fall months, open enrollment, holidays and performance reviews will take priority.  Time is important for the success of a major implementation.
  4. Evaluating available systems:  Develop a spreadsheet that ranks and rates the available system, based on the needs assessment.  What does the organization need and how will we measure available systems?
  5. Project team: “Critical stakeholders may differ from organization to organization, but the considerations and evaluation committee should at least include members from the following departments: IT, payroll/finance/accounting, HR, compensation, performance management, training, recruiting, operations.”[i]  Operations is a major stakeholder in the selection process.  Supervisors, managers and employees will be inputting and approving timesheets.  They need to be included in the selection process.  Slow and inefficient systems take away from operations. 
  6. Requesting the proposals:  Utilize the RFP process within your organization and seek four to seven bids from vendors.  Include information about the organization, project specifications (organizational needs), high-level budget information and project schedule/implementation dates.  Ensure you leave enough time to evaluate systems, 3-6-month commitments on current pricing schedule.
  7. Trial the systems:  The project team should meet with three to four potential vendors.   A demonstration of the systems should be included in the evaluation.  Utilize the evaluation spreadsheet that was developed and be prepared to ask questions.  The entire team should be present during the demonstrations and evaluation discussions.
  8. Make your choice:  Upon selecting one or two final systems, a request should be made to each vendor for references and potential onsite visits.  The vendors should provide current or past clients.  If they avoid providing references, this might a red flag during the selection process.

Once the finalist has been selected, the organization should negotiate a service contract.  Other negotiation considerations; training, IT support, cloud support, compliance updates, software updates, warranties, self-service, cellphone aps and modules.  Does the organization need a system with all the bells and whistles?  Ensure that you are not upsold on modules and system add-ons you do not need or will not use.  Hold the vendor accountable to the agreed upon service contract.  If you are unclear on the process seek guidance and welcome advice.

[i] https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/tools-and-samples/how-to-guides/pages/howtoselectanhrissystem.aspx

[i] https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/tools-and-samples/how-to-guides/pages/howtoselectanhrissystem.aspx

Work for Trade Agreements

Work for trade agreements is an opportunity to exchange work for something of value to someone else.  A yoga instructor exchanging yoga lessons for assistance at the front desk reception.  Also known as bartering; exchanging service for another service or something of value to the individual. 

The Work for Trade Agreements are potential solutions for small businesses and organizations that have limited budget.  However, precautions should be considered prior to setting up any work for trade agreement.

Additional Considerations:

  1. Local, State and Federal Tax considerations.  Is the exchange taxable?  More than likely yes, but this should be reviewed as well.
  2. Work for Trade Contract.  Do we have a written and enforceable contract?
  3. Local, State and Federal Laws.  How will this impact the FLSA, DOL, OSHA, etc. at the federal level and is there an impact at the local or state level?  It is worth reviewing to ensure the agreement does not violate any laws.
  4. Value on both sides.  Are both parties agreeing the value of one in exchange for the value of another is fair?

Work for Trade will not work for every organization, these are just a few considerations, and all aspects should be reviewed prior to implementing a Work for Trade Agreement. 

IRS Rules Bartering for Service:

Bartering is the exchange of goods or services. A barter exchange is an organization whose members contract with each other (or with the barter exchange) to exchange property or services. The term doesn’t include arrangements that provide solely for the informal exchange of similar services on a noncommercial basis (for example, a babysitting cooperative run by neighborhood parents). Usually there’s no exchange of cash. An example of bartering is a plumber exchanging plumbing services for the dental services of a dentist.

Information Returns for Bartering Transactions:

The Internet has provided a medium for new growth in the bartering industry. This growth prompts the following reminder: Barter exchanges are required to file Form 1099-B, Proceeds From Broker and Barter Exchange Transactions for all transactions unless an exception applies. Refer to Bartering in Publication 525, Taxable and Nontaxable Income and the Instructions for Form 1099-B for additional information on this subject. Persons who don’t contract with a barter exchange or who don’t barter through a barter exchange but who trade services, aren’t required to file Form 1099-B. However, they may be required to file Form 1099-MISC, Miscellaneous Information. Refer to the General Instructions for Certain Information Returns PDF to determine if you have to file this form. If you exchange property or services through a barter exchange, you should receive a Form 1099-B. The IRS also will receive the same information.

Reporting Bartering Income:

You must include in gross income in the year of receipt the fair market value of goods or services received from bartering. Generally, you report this income on Schedule C (Form 1040), Profit or Loss from Business (Sole Proprietorship). If you failed to report this income, correct your return by filing a Form 1040-X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return. Refer to Topic No. 308 and Should I File an Amended Return? for information on filing an amended return.

Estimated Tax Payments:

If you receive income from bartering, you may be required to make estimated tax payments. Refer to Topic No. 306 and Form 1040-ES, Estimated Tax for Individuals for more information.

Additional Information:

Refer to Publication 525, Taxable and Nontaxable Income and Publication 334, Tax Guide for Small Business for more information on bartering income and barter exchanges.


It is advised to seek legal and CPA/financial guidance to ensure everything is done legally.  FLSA guidelines should be reviewed prior to making any decisions.  This is business to business.

Below is a draft contract (not considered legal advice):

This agreement is hereby made and entered on this date, date, by and between:

Contractor Name, of Contractor Company, hereafter called Contractor,


Client Name, of Client Organization, hereafter called Client.

The said parties, for the considerations hereinafter mentioned, hereby agree to the following:

The Contractor agrees to provide labor required to perform the work as described:

Contractor Services Provided
in exchange for the following:

Client Offering

under the following conditions:

Conditions of exchange

Contractor agrees to keep records of hours worked and the records will be available for review by Client. Client agrees to reimburse Contractor for expenses agreed between the Client and Contractor, in order to complete necessary work as required.

The Contractor agrees to complete work at the best of their experience and skills and to consult with the Contractor regularly to complete work according to the following time frame conditions:

Agreement timeline

Contract to be on a month to month basis. Either party shall provide one week’s notice for termination or amendment of the agreement.



Client Name (Client)

Client Signed Date


Contractor Name (Contractor)

Contractor Signed Date

New York State Secure Choice Savings Plan Legislation

Ithaca New York Pay Transparency Law Effective September 1, 2022:

“The City of Ithaca will require employers to disclose the minimum and maximum pay in every job posting, starting September 1. The new city ordinance applies to any employer with more than three permanent workers based in Ithaca. That could also include employers of certain Ithaca-based remote workers.”

New York State Secure Choice Savings Plan Legislation

In late 2021, new legislation was signed into law, requiring private employers who do not sponsor a retirement plan to automatically enroll their employees into the State’s new program.  The New York State Secure Choice Savings Plan (Program). The savings plan is an IRA program funded through payroll deferrals.  The plans are portable and can move from one employer to another if an employee change organizations. 

Eligible Employers

The Program covers employers who have employed at least 10 employees in New York State at all times during the previous calendar year, that have been in business at least two years, and have not sponsored a qualified retirement plan for their employees in the preceding two years. Employers include all persons or entities engaged in a business, industry, profession, trade or other enterprise in New York state – including both for profit and nonprofit organizations. 

Employers are prohibited from terminating their own retirement plan in order to join the Program, and, to this end, the Program specifically excludes employers who have offered a qualified retirement plan in the prior two years. 

Eligible Employees

Eligible employees will be automatically enrolled into the Program, with a deferral rate of 3%, and may change this rate at any time (subject to rules set by the Board). Participating employees will be able to make elective deferrals up to the maximum limits under Internal Revenue Code (Code) Section 219 ($6,000 + $1,000 catch up – although catch up contributions are not mentioned in the statute). Employees who opt out may re-enroll again during an open enrollment period (at least once per year). 

Program Highlights

  • Investment Options – The Program will contain various types of investment options intended to offer returns on employee contributions, with the long-term goal of utilizing these account balances to secure retirement income without incurring debt or liabilities to New York State. 
    • Default Investment Option. The Program will employ a default investment option that will take into account various factors, including cost, risk, benefit level and ease of enrollment. 
    • Other investment options under consideration include: a conservative principal protection fund; a growth fund; a secure return fund; an annuity fund; a growth and income fund; and a life cycle fund with a target date based upon factors determined by the Board. 
  • Use of Third-Party Service Providers. The Program will contract with necessary service providers to offer retirement benefits, including investment managers, financial organizations, other financial service providers, consultants, actuaries, counsel, auditors, third-party administrators and other professionals as necessary. 
  • Performance Reviews. Financial organizations’ performance will be periodically reviewed, including reviews of returns, fees and customer service, with reviews posted to the Program’s website. 
  • Plan Administration Reviews. The Program’s enrollment process will be monitored, including such aspects as employee opt-in procedures, setting contribution rates, selecting investment options and termination of participation in the Program.
  • Financial Education. The Program will facilitate education and outreach for both employers and employees.
  • Disclosures. The Board will design and disseminate informational materials, which shall include background information on the Program as well as necessary disclosures as required by law. 
  • In-Service Withdrawals. The Board will also consider withdrawal provisions (i.e., economic hardships, plan loans, portability, leakage). However, no such provisions will be available at inception. 
  • Program Fees and Expenses. Program fees will initially come from New York state funds, but ultimately be paid out of future employee contributions. 

Required Disclosures

 Employers must provide employees with informational materials, including a disclosure form explaining many facets of the program, addressing: 

  • the benefits and risks associated with making contributions to the Program; 
  • the process for making contributions to the Program; 
  • how to opt out of the Program at any time; 
  • the process by which an employee can change the contribution rate from 3%; 
  • that employees are not required to participate in the Program or contribute more than 3%; 
  • the process for withdrawal of retirement savings;
  • the process for selecting beneficiaries of their retirement account;
  • how to obtain additional information about the Program; 
  • an advisory informing employees to contact financial advisors for financial advice, as employers are not liable for investment decisions;
  • information on how to access any available financial literacy programs; and
  • a notice that the Program fund is not guaranteed by the State. 

Employers must also provide a form to employees allowing them to elect to either opt-out or select a deferral rate other than 3%. 

As a matter of first impression, these forms and disclosures appear to be similar to those associated with qualified retirement plans, such as a summary plan description. The Board will develop informational materials for use by employers. 

NYS Secure Choice Savings Plan vs. NYC Retirement Security for All Act

Earlier in 2021, Mayor DeBlasio enacted the New York City Retirement Security For All Act (NYC Act), which contained similar provisions to the Program, but was limited to New York City employers. Some of the key differences between the two legislative packages are:


There are a number of unanswered questions related to the current law and requirements for small organizations.  Continue to monitor for any upcoming changes and changes to the law.  Now is the time review options and implement an IRA, 403b or 401k option for your workforce.  November 2022 will be here soon.  I’m happy to work with any organization on specific questions related to the mandatory changes in NYS and NYC.

New York State & New York City Pay Transparency Legislation

May 12, 2022 the Salary Transparency Law was enacted in New York City, which was postponed to the effective date of November 1, 2022. 

“In addition to employers, 134-A specifies that employment agencies, and employees or agents thereof, must also include a salary range or hourly wage range in each advertised position, promotion, or transfer opportunity. Job advertisements for “temporary employment at temporary help firms” are still exempted from the law. Temporary help firms are defined as businesses that recruit and hire their own employees and assign those employees to perform work at or perform services for other organizations or businesses.” (Littler)

  1. “The civil penalty for the first violation will be $0 if the employer cures the violation within 30 days of receipt of a complaint. The proof of cure may be submitted either electronically or in person and is deemed an admission of liability by the employer.
  2. In line with the recent CCHR guidance (which has now been updated), the law would apply to job listings for both salaried and hourly positions, and would not apply to any position “that cannot or will not be performed, at least in part, in the city of New York.”
  3. While an individual may only file a lawsuit based on a violation arising from an advertisement by their current employer, any aggrieved person may file a complaint with the Commission, regardless of whether the alleged violator is the grievant’s current employer.” (Bond)

New York Wage Transparency Law

As assumed, on June 3, 2022, New York State passed a similar law on wage transparency. 

“the new law would require covered employers to disclose compensation or a range of compensation to applicants and employees upon issuing an employment opportunity for internal or public viewing, or upon employee request. The Bill is intended to enhance transparency around compensation and reducing any existing wage disparities among employees.

The Bill defines a covered employer as: (i) “any person, corporation, limited liability company, association, labor organization or entity employing four or more employees in any occupation, industry, trade, business or service, or any agent thereof;” and (ii) “any person, corporation, limited liability company, association or entity acting as an employment agent or recruiter, or otherwise connecting applicants with employers, provided that “employer” shall not include a temporary help firm” as the term is defined under New York Labor Law Section 916 (5).

The Bill requires covered employers to disclose the following information in job postings, including for promotions and transfer opportunities, that can or will be performed at least in part in the State of New York:

  1. The compensation or a range of compensation for such job, promotion, or transfer opportunity; and
  2. The job description for such job, promotion, or transfer opportunity, if such description exists.

For positions that are paid solely on commission, compliance with the law’s compensation disclosure requirements can be achieved by providing a written general statement that compensation shall be based on commission.

Additionally, the new law would prohibit employers from refusing to interview, hire, promote, employ or otherwise retaliating against an applicant or current employee for exercising their rights under new Section 194-b. The law would allow individuals aggrieved by a violation to file a complaint with the NYS Department of Labor (NYSDOL). Violations of the any of the requirements of the new law or any subsequently published regulations could result in a civil penalty pursuant to NY Labor Law Section 218 which generally provides civil monetary penalties for non-wage related violations ranging from $1,000 to $3,000, to be assessed by the NYSDOL.

Under the new law, covered employers would also be required to maintain records of compliance, including but not limited to the history of compensation ranges for each job, promotion or transfer opportunity as well as the job descriptions for such positions (if applicable).” (Bond)

If enacted, the proposed bill would take effect 270 days after it becomes law.

These are simple changes to make when posting for openings and recruiting.  Ensure that you are communicating the anticipated changes throughout your organization.  Continue to monitor for any upcoming changes or modifications to the proposed legislation.  These changes are a trend nationally.

The EEOC and Fair Employment Practice Agencies (FEPAs) “Work Sharing Agreement”

“Many states, counties, cities, and towns have their own laws prohibiting discrimination, as well as agencies responsible for enforcing those laws. We call these state and local agencies “Fair Employment Practices Agencies” (FEPAs). Usually the laws enforced by these agencies are similar to those enforced by EEOC.”[i]   States and cities (including New York State and New York City) have entered into a work sharing agreement with the EEOC.  What does this mean for our organizations?  Does it have an impact on how we should operate or how we manage workplace allegations and investigations?

Work Sharing Agreements:

  1. Under these terms, both the EEOC and state authority (NYS Division of Human Rights) or City (NYC) can designate the other as its agent for receipt of charges.
  • What does this mean?  If a charge is received by one partner under the agreement, it is deemed received by the other.
  • “Moreover, these agreements typically proved that the state entity can waive its rights to process such a charge referred to it by the EEOC, which as the effect of permitting the federal agency to process the charge without waiting for the 60-day period to expire.
  • Many such agreements have an automatic waiver provision, which means that as soon as the charge is filed with the EEOC, the EEOC can begin processing it without going through the motions of referring it back to the state authority.
  • It also means that the grievant need not file with the state agency within 240 days of the unlawful practice, but, instead, has a full 300 days within which to take the initial step of filing a charge with the federal agency.”[ii]
  • “You can file your charge with either the EEOC or with a Fair Employment Practices Agency.  If the charge is initially filed with EEOC and the charge is also covered by state or local law, EEOC dual files the charge with the state or local FEPA (meaning the FEPA will receive a copy of the charge), but ordinarily retains the charge for processing.
  • If a FEPA has a contract with EEOC, a Charging Party may request that the EEOC review the determination of the FEPA. EEOC will conduct a review only if the request is submitted in writing within fifteen (15) days of receipt of the FEPA’s determination.”[iii]

Confused yet?  To summarize, New York State and New York City have a working agreement with the EEOC, if a charge is filed, it is sent with the state or city, it is sent to the EEOC as well, if it falls within the 300-day requirement, under current federal law.  “The EEOC contracts with approximately 90 FEPAs nationwide to process more than 48,000 discrimination charges annually.”[iv]

EEOC State and Local Agencies Work Sharing Link

Fair Employment Practices Agencies (FEPAs) and Dual Filing


The FY 2020 data show that retaliation remained the most frequently cited claim in charges filed with the agency – accounting for a staggering 55.8 percent of all charges filed – followed by disability, race, and sex. Specif­ically, the charge numbers show the following categories of discrimination, in descending order of frequency (NOTE: These percentages add up to more than 100 percent because some charges allege multiple bases.):

  • Retaliation: 37,632 (55.8 percent of all charges filed)
  • Disability: 24,324 (36.1 percent)
  • Race: 22,064 (32.7 percent)
  • Sex: 21,398 (31.7 percent)
  • Age: 14,183 (21.0 percent)
  • National Origin: 6,377 (9.5 percent)
  • Color: 3,562 (5.3 percent)
  • Religion: 2,404 (3.6 percent)
  • Equal Pay Act: 980 (1.5 percent)
  • Genetic Information: 440 (0.7 percent)

The EEOC resolved 70,804 charges in FY 2020 and increased its merit factor resolution rate to 17.4 percent from 15.6 percent the prior year. The agency responded to over 470,000 calls to its toll-free number and more than 187,000 inquiries in field offices, including 122,775 inquiries through the online intake and appointment scheduling system. The agency also reduced its inventory of pending charges by 3.7 percent.

The EEOC secured $439.2 million for victims of discrimination in the private sector and state and local government workplaces through voluntary resolutions and litigation. The comprehensive enforcement and litigation statistics for FY 2020, which also includes detailed breakdowns of charges by state, are posted on the agency’s website at www.eeoc.gov/statistics/enforcement-and-litigation-statistics.

[i] https://www.eeoc.gov/employees/fepa.cfm

[ii] Joel Wm. Friedman, Examples & Explanations: Employment Discrimination. Third Edition (Wolters Kluwer 2017).

[iii] https://www.eeoc.gov/employees/fepa.cfm

[iv] https://www.eeoc.gov/field/newyork/fepa.cfm

Designing an Exit Process and Exit Checklist

It is inevitable that employees will exit our organizations to see different opportunity, grow in their career, relocate or we manage them out of the organization through progressive discipline, performance improvement plants, last chance agreements, etc.  Voluntary versus involuntary are different process of exiting an organization that should follow a consistent process.  If the employee is leaving voluntarily, we should gather information regarding the reasons why and make changes as needed.  This can include; communication, training, employee growth, benefits, compensation, etc.

Considerations for Exit Interviews:

  1. Discussion on reasons for leaving
  2. Communication throughout the organization
  3. Relationship with supervision and leadership
  4. Relationship with peers
  5. Working hours, wages, benefits
  6. Suggested changes in the organization
  7. Performance feedback
  8. Performance review process
  9. Liking most and least about the job
  10. Any relevant suggestions to improve the workplace

We are not going to please every employee that leaves the organization.  However, we should take the process serious and reflect on opportunities to communicate or improve process, procedures and practices.  The worst thing to do is conduct a 30-minute exit interview and file it in the terminated employee file.  A non-value add for the exiting employee and the organization.

Exit Interview Checklist (not all is applicable to every organization):


___ Received employee resignation letter. (If verbal resignation, provided employee with a written confirmation of resignation, retained copy).

___ Scheduled exit interview.             ___ Completed exit interview. 


___ Provided employee with termination letter (for-cause terminations).

___ Provided employee with severance agreement if layoff and severance eligible.

___ Received signed severance agreement.

___ Provided employee with WARN/OWBPA notices (if applicable).


___ Provided employee with termination/continuation of employment insurance benefits
        information (COBRA, life insurance, supplemental insurance, etc.)

___ Checked FSA/HSA participation and informed employee of remaining funds and
        reimbursement deadlines, if applicable.

___ Checked PTO balance and informed employee of any remaining PTO and how it will be processed at termination of employment.

___ Informed employee about retirement plan options.


___ Provided notice of policy regarding any outstanding balances for money owed to 
        company: educational loans/pay advances.

___ Notified Payroll department to process final paycheck.

___ Informed Payroll of any unused but earned PTO amounts due to employee.

___ Notified Payroll to process severance pays and whether lump sum or salary continuation (if applicable).


___ Provided letter reminding employee of any legal obligations post-employment (such as noncompete/confidentiality agreements/employment contracts).


___ Notified company immigration attorney of termination if employee is on temporary work visa.


___ Pulled personnel file to be stored with terminated employee files.

___ Pulled Form I-9 to be stored with terminated employees’ I-9s.  

___ Obtained written authorization from employee to respond to employment verification requests.

Information Technology

___ Disabled e-mail account.

___ Removed employee’s name from e-mail group distribution lists; internal/office phone list; website and building directories.

___ Disabled computer access.

___ Disabled phone extension.

___ Disabled voicemail.

Facilities/Office Manager

___ Disabled security codes, if necessary.

___ Changed office mailbox.

___ Cleaned work area and removed personal belongings.

Collected the following items:

___ Keys (___office, ___building, ___desk, ___file cabinets, ___ other)

___ Company files, records, etc.

___ ID card

___ Building access card

___ Business cards

___ Nameplate

___ Name badge

___ Company cell phone

___ Laptop

___ Uniforms

___ Company credit cards

___ Tools

___ Username _______________     Password _______________________

___ Username _______________     Password _______________________

___ Username _______________     Password _______________________

___ Username _______________     Password _______________________

Form Completed by: ____________________________________

Date: _________________

The section below is critical to capture during an exit interview or exit checklist process.  I would encourage organizations to develop a signature section similar to this, as mentioned below.  Again, this is not legal advice but the process I currently have in place.

Signature Required:

I acknowledge at this time that I do not have any complaints against my supervisor, co-workers or any company agent or representative that have not been otherwise reported in writing during my employment.  I also acknowledge that I have reported in writing any and all injuries that have occurred during my employment. 

I understand that my last paycheck will be provided within the time required by applicable law.  I also understand that benefits will cease per the Organization X policies and applicable law.  And I acknowledge that I sign this resignation/termination willfully and voluntarily. 

Employee Name (Print): ________________________________    Date: ___________________

Employee Signature: __________________________________

If you are unclear on how to develop an exit process or exit checklist, I am happy to work with any organization to ensure an efficient and timely process is in place.  Username and passwords are necessary to collect prior to an employee leaving.

9 Thoughts on Manager and Supervisor Training

Manager and supervisory level trainings, both internal and external to the organization are vital to the growth and development of managers and supervisors and the continued evolution of our organizations.  Without adequate, thorough and effective supervisor and manager trainings, we will continue to face challenges in our organizations with unprepared and inexperienced leadership.  Many of the trainings I conduct with local colleges and through my consulting business continue to set supervisors and managers for success in their leadership roles, through improved knowledge and decision making skills. 

Below are my 9 thoughts on manager and supervisor trainings:

  1. New Hire Orientation and Onboarding Paperwork: Some organizations require managers and supervisors to oversee the onboarding and new hire orientation process.  If these individuals are responsible for the new hire paperwork, ensure they understand what is required.  If they sign off on the I-9 Form, ensure they know what to look for, so we are not doing audits 2-years later and finding mistakes.  Create a checklist and train folks to work through the checklist.
  2. HR and Safety Legal Training: Over the past 3-years, I have trained hundreds of managers and supervisors in many organizations on HR law and OSHA.  This training is high-level and covers federal legislation.  We will discuss state regulations as well, but more focus on the federal laws.  The training continues to be a success and the engagement has been fantastic.  I would recommend a legal and safety training for supervisors and managers in any organization.
  3. Performance Reviews and Workplace Feedback: This is an area that many of us have a hard time making the transition, from an employee to a higher-level manager or supervisor.  We need to provide training to leaders in our organizations on conducting thorough and accurate performance reviews, while holding these folks accountable.  Not every employee should receive a 4 out of 5.  The other part of this needs to be employee relations and workplace feedback.  This should include workplace communication, emotional intelligence and difficult/crucial conversations.  These are not easy skills to learn; practice and training makes improved skills.
  4. Legal and Effective Interviewing: An area that requires a specific skill set when we are recruiting, interviewing, onboarding and retaining talented employees in our organizations.  I have also developed a training on legal and effective interviewing for supervisors, this has run successfully over the past 3-years.  We need to ensure our managers and supervisors understand what they can and cannot ask applicants in a job interview and how to treat applicants during the recruitment process.  Remember, treat applicants the way you want to be treated during the recruitment process, it will make a difference.  Six weeks between application and interviewing with no communication does not work and will have long-term impacts on recruitment.
  5. Conflict Management: Conflict in the workplace is inevitable, people are people and we all have different personalities.  The way conflict is addressed and managed in the workplace will make all the difference to employee engagement and retention of talented individuals.  Managers and supervisors need to understand expectations and how to address conflict.  Make this training a priority and work through roleplay scenarios.  This one is critical, managers and leaders must be trained on critical conversation and conflict management.
  6. Policy, Procedure and Employee Handbooks: We should not assume that our managers and supervisors understand every rule, policy and regulation in our handbooks or employee manuals.  Over communicate expectations, especially information on sexual harassment, retaliation, bullying, harassment, etc.  The expectations should be crystal clear and hold folks accountable for enforcing these rules and policies.
  7. Payroll Processing and Vacation Approvals: This is another area that many organizations face challenges with.  At times we are consistently inconsistent with vacation and PTO approvals, inputting FMLA leave, etc.  Ensure all managers and supervisors understand how to approve payroll and approve vacation/PTO leave.  The efficiency in approvals comes with a payroll system that works.  It isn’t complex, at least I hope it isn’t and it is a common area that can be overlooked or assumed everyone knows how to use a payroll or timekeeping system.  Not everyone does and we need to address this.
  8. Workplace Investigations: A crucial area for supervisors and managers to understand.  This should include; workplace conflict, workers compensation discussion and the investigation process.  Scenario’s and examples are the best training opportunities to use in a workplace investigation training.  Another training that we have run successfully with big impacts.
  9. Succession Planning: This one can be a tricky area to communicate and train managers on, but it is a great opportunity for open communication, while providing the workforce information on the future and direction of the organization.  This doesn’t have to be a 3-hour training, it can be a great opportunity to have conversations around expectations, during an annual performance review or during the goal setting process in 2019.  This can be done in a small group or one-on-one setting.

As the laws continue to change and the needs of our organizations change; training and open communication is necessary.  I offer many of these trainings tailored to the needs of the organizations and they continue to be successful.  Make training a priority and designate enough time for training is necessary for impactful and successful training.  In one organization I am working with, we are implementing the learning organization philosophy with our managers and supervisors.  This is a dramatic change throughout the organization, but one that is necessary.  We start each training session with an open discussion about any issues or concerns managers and supervisors are facing and as a group currently developing metrics for the organization.  Training is necessary for the growth and development our workforce, make training a priority in your organization!

7 Avenues for Improved Workplace Communication

Organizations large and small are challenged with the right approach for how best to communicate within their workforce.  How personal do we make the communication?  How do we communicate important information timely to a large group of individuals?  Do we send a mass email?  Do we have all hands meetings?  The answer to these along with many other questions regarding workplace communication is that it depends; it depends on the workforce, the information, the timing and the culture of the organization. 

All leaders will have a different approach to communication, whether the organization is 5 people for 50,000 people.  The worst thing any of us can do is not communicate with the workforce, delivering less than positive news is not always easy but for an employee to learn about it on social media or through another channel of communication is not acceptable. 

Below are 6 avenues for improved workplace communication:

  1. Know Your Organization: How communication has and has not worked in the past within the organization.  If you were an employee of the organization how would you want to hear about good and/or bad news?  If you are unsure of what avenue of communication to use, ask the workforce.  Can you please everyone?  Probably not, but it will make it easier and much more efficient to communicate with people knowing this information.
  • All Hands Meetings: This is a great approach to deliver information to a large group of employees.  They hear the same message from the same person, there is no second or third hand information delivery.  We found success with all hands meetings quarterly; we developed an agenda and each department leader presented on metrics.  The downfall to this approach is employee’s not asking questions in front of peers or a larger group.  Be open to suggestion or questions ahead of time to help prepare the information.   
  • Bulletin Boards or Intranet Communication Walls:  Bulletin boards have existed in organizations for decades.  Keeping a bulletin board updated in a breakroom or near a timeclock is a great way to communicate information, if you consistently update the bulletin board with new information.  If you have a memo that has not been changed in 1 year, employees will stop looking at the bulletin board.  Remember the labor posters as well!  The intranet is a new trend in organizations, a great place to update information and communicate, if all employees have access to the intranet.  If you do use the intranet and it is updated, there should be a mechanism that alerts all employees of the update via email, text message, etc. so they know to review the new information. 
  • Newsletter or Paychecks:  Organization have had tremendous success with newsletters, we wrote a newsletter monthly, printed it and sent it out via email throughout the organization.  Newsletters work if you are consistent, add a personal touch and have relevant information within the publication.  I always added birthdays, new births, pictures of the shop and any upcoming meetings with 401k, health insurance etc.  I also asked for input from employees within the organization.  If someone wanted to write an article I was happy to add it, if the article was appropriate.  Many organizations are now adding workplace communication memos on paycheck or direct deposit stubs.  This is a great idea to communicate small amounts of information to the employees or the employee’s spouse. 
  • Crew Meetings and Roundtable Discussions:  Managers and supervisors will meet with a team prior to the start of a shift.  The benefit to crew meetings or shop huddles is the manager/supervisor is familiar with the workforce and the group might be more comfortable asking questions in a smaller setting.  Roundtable discussions are discussions held by managers and leaders of the organization with small groups of employees.  Organization might choose to ask the employees questions or they might leave it as an open ended discussion.  I have seen this work, if it is done consistently and if organizational leaders follow-up on questions or concerns with employee’s directly.  Do not say “let me get back to you” and never get back to the employee.    
  • Memos or Suggestion Box:  Memos will work for small amounts of information, this is usually communicated by a manager or supervisor in a crew meeting, sent via email, posted on a bulletin board or updated on the intranet.  Memos will work if they are short, relevant and timely.  In past organizations we have found success with a suggestion box program, where other organizations have not had success.  Is your organization ready for a suggestion box?  Do you need a suggestion box?  Is there value to adding a suggestion box?  Will you or the leadership team follow-up individually with each employee on the suggestion good or bad to close the loop?  Implementing a suggestion box program will take time and resources, research options prior to rolling out a program and ask the workforce if it would be valuable. 
  • Decision Making Trees:

These are just a few of the many avenue’s organizations use to communicate within their respected organizations; email, memos home, safety meetings, safety councils, workplace communication teams, phone calls, text messages, training sessions, policies and procedures are other avenues of workplace communication.  Knowing your organization and the workforce will help you as a leader develop a communication process and communicate information consistently and timely.  As mentioned earlier, the last thing you want is for an employee to find out good and/or bad news through social media, on the internet or through the gossip mill.  This is a negative for employee morale.  If you do need assistance developing a communication plan or process, ask for help.  Communication is critical to the success of any organization, large or small.  If you commit to following up on a question or concern, ensure that you follow-up. 

6 Definitions for Fair Labor Standards Act Exemptions

Exempt and nonexempt, hourly, salaried, and salaried nonexempt are definitions that most of us know and currently use to classify the positions in our organizations.  We know that we must classify individuals in an exempt or nonexempt (overtime eligible) position for payroll, overtime and reporting purposes.  There are numerous definitions to define exempt level positions under the current FLSA (federal) regulations.  Remember that the salary threshold in New York State varies for executive and administrative professionals, when comparing with the federal law.  As leaders, we need to ensure our classifications for each position within our organizations are accurate and our workforce is paid correctly for work performed and hours worked.

Fact Sheet #17A: Exemption for Executive, Administrative, Professional, Computer & Outside Sales Employees Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)

The 6 exempt level definitions under the FLSA:

  1. The Executive Exemption: Primary duties include managing the enterprise, directing the work of at least two or more full-time employees and has the authority to hire and fire employees.  The link(s) goes into specific duties tests on the exemptions.  NY State Law
  2. The Administrative Exemption: Primary duties must be the performance of office or non-manual work related to the management of the business and exercising discretion and independent judgement with respect to matters of significance.  NY State Law
  3. The Learned Professional Exemption: Primary duties must be the performance of work requiring advanced knowledge, which is predominantly intellectual in character and requires discretion and judgement.
  4. Computer Employee Exemption: Primary duties consist of the application of systems analysis techniques, design development, documentation, analysis, creation, modification of computer systems and designing, testing or modifying computer programs.  This exemption is complex, ensure you read through the FLSA definition prior to deciding and thoroughly understand the duties test. 
  5. The Outside Sales Exemption:  Primary duties must include making sales, obtaining orders or contracts.  The employee must be regularly engaged away from the employer’s place of business. 
  6. The Highly Compensated Employees Exemption: Perform office or non-manual work and paid total annual compensation of $100,000 or more.  They regularly perform at least one of the duties of an exempt executive, administrative or learned professional identified in the standard tests of exemption.
  7. Other Definitions:                   Blue Collar Worker

Police Officers, Fire Fighters and First Responders

With all the definitions of exemptions, a standard duties test must be performed to ensure we are accurately classifying positions within our organizations.  Under the current federal law, the salary threshold is $455 per week (Computer Employee Exemption an hourly rate of not less than $27.63).  The $455 per week is subject to change, as we have seen in the past.  However, we have not seen the Trump Administration make any changes to the levels.  Each definition in the article has a link that takes you to the FLSA definition for each position.  Ensure that all positions are reviewed and accurately classified as exempt or nonexempt.  As the law changes in NY State, positions can change from exempt to nonexempt.  If you are confused, seek guidance.  Classifying positions can be complex, especially the computer related positions.

New York State Exempt Administrative and Executive Minimum Salaries
The minimum salary for exempt executive and administrative employees in New York will increase as follows:

  • Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester counties: $1,050 per week, which equals $54,600 per year.
  • The rest of the state outside New York City: $937.50 per week, which equals $48,750 per year.
  • (The minimum in New York City previously increased to $1,125 per week.)
Executive & Administrative Exemption Weekly Salary Threshold Schedule
NYC – Large Employers (of 11 or more)$1,125.00$1,125.00
NYC – Small Employers (10 or less)$1,125.00$1,125.00
Long Island & Westchester$1,050.00$1,125.00
Remainder of New York State$937.50$990.00

EEO-1 2021 Collection of Component 1 Data April – May 2022

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has announced its tentative schedule for the 2021 EEO-1 Component 1 data collection portal, which is set to open on April 12 with a filing deadline of May 17.

EEO-1 Reporting Obligation

Businesses with 100 or more employees and some federal contractors with at least 50 employees must submit an annual EEO-1 form, which asks for information from the previous year about the number of employees who worked for the business, sorted by job category, race, ethnicity and gender.

The EEOC also announced the discontinuation of the use of Type 6 reports for multi-establishment employers. Type 6 reports allowed these employers to report only the total number of employees at an establishment with fewer than 50 employees, instead of providing demographic data by EEO-1 category for each location.

Single-Establishment vs. Multi-Establishment Filing

Single-establishment companies are required to submit only one EEO-1 Component 1 data report. Multi-establishment companies must submit:

  • A report for the headquarters.
  • A report for each establishment of the company with 50 or more employees.
  • A report for each establishment with fewer than 50 employees. The Type 8 establishment report, as it’s called, must include employee data for each establishment broken down by job category, race, ethnicity and gender.
  • A consolidated report that includes all employees.


Extensions Last Year

Covered employers had until Oct. 25, 2021, to file their 2019 and 2020 EEO-1 reports. Although the reporting deadline was delayed several times during the COVID-19 pandemic, the agency eventually said it would not authorize any more extensions. The EEOC said it does not intend to collect controversial pay data from Component 2 of the EEO-1 form, which was the source of a heated legal dispute in recent years.

Additional Links:






  1. What companies are required to file the EEO-1 report?

    A: All companies that meet the following criteria are required to file the EEO-1 report annually:
    1. Subject to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, with 100 or more employees; or
    1. Subject to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, with fewer than 100 employees if the company is owned by or corporately affiliated with another company and the entire enterprise employs a total of 100 or more employees; or
    1. Federal government prime contractors or first-tier subcontractors subject to Executive Order 11246, as amended, with 50 or more employees and a prime contract or first-tier subcontract amounting to $50,000 or more.
  2. Do I need to file if my company has fewer than 50 employees but does have a federal government contract worth $50,000 or more?

    A: No, your company must meet both requirements of 50 employees and the government contract worth $50,000 or more.


Legal Requirements

  • Recordkeeping Requirements
  • Download the “EEO is the Law” Poster in English (including a screen-readable electronic version), Spanish, Arabic, and Chinese
    Employers are required to post a notice describing the federal employment discrimination laws.
  • EEO Reports/Surveys
    Employers who have at least 100 employees and federal contractors who have at least 50 employees are required to complete and submit an EEO-1 Report (a government form that requests information about employees’ job categories, ethnicity, race, and gender) to EEOC and the U.S. Department of Labor every year.