HR Executive

HR Executive


Seattle, WA

Female, 39

I'm the head of HR for a leading digital media company. I'm responsible for making my company an amazing place to work - or at least I'll go down trying! In short, I set the strategic direction for the HR function of the organization. I wear many hats: member of the executive team, confidant and advisor to my peers regarding people matters, as well as an advocate for all people that work hard to make our products great. People are what make organizations tick, and my job is to empower them all.

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50 Questions


Last Answer on January 11, 2015

Best Rated

I've been considering HR as a career move, but there's one problem: I could never fire anyone. Are there any HR positions where firing employees is NOT part of the job?

Asked by Inga over 6 years ago

Yes - lots! And they are super interesting, intellectually challenging, and pay well. As with most professions, HR has several specialty areas - and these can many times be somewhat in the background, so people aren't aware of them. Some typical ones that come to mind, along with what they are similar to: * Recruiting - finding and hiring great people. Much of recruiting involves selling, and many successful sales people transition well into this area. * Compensation - this is the science of HR. People who like math, analysis, and understanding complex laws and regulations do well in Comp. The best comp people are able to devise elegant solutions to difficult challenges. * Benefits - this is a fairly broad area, but on that can be very rewarding. In a benefits role, you would be designing health and welfare programs to support the well being of employees. This can be everything from health plans, 401k plan, helping people with benefit issues, process claims and making sure the bills get paid. Some benefit administrators work all day long with employees to help make their lives better. * Training and Development - Teaching in the workplace. Many large organizations have internal training programs who are responsible for everything from new hire orientation, practical hands-on job training, leadership development, and general workplace skills. Some focus solely on senior leadership development plans. Overall, this specialty focuses on helping people develop to their full potential. To learn more about these, and many other specialties, I recommend checking out, and clicking on "HR Disciplines". SHRM - also known as the Society for Human Resource Management - is the largest HR organization in the US. They are a wealth of information, and can help you get started in a career in HR. Good luck!!

Do most people have a good idea they're about to be let go when they walk into your office, or are they typically blindsided?

Asked by coco over 6 years ago

It depends on why the employee is being fired. If it is for cause (i.e. the person isn't meeting job expectations, has poor attendance or is a major jerk), they typically have had a few conversations where they have been told their performance / behavior needs to change, else they will be let go. In those situations, the final straw is usually another incident of the behavior that needs to change. If the employee is surprised in that case, well, they maybe aren't paying attention. When laying off employees, it is usually 50/50, and mostly depends on how much employees pay attention to what is going on with the company. They are also generally more aware when the rumor mill is hopping. When you know the company is struggling, rumors are flying, and HR seems to be very busy behind closed doors... generally not good signs, and changes are to be expected.

Do foosball tables, free t-shirts, "bagel Fridays", and other non-cash perks really boost employee morale, or are they seen as just gimmicks used instead of what everyone really wants (AKA more money?)

Asked by Genooooooo over 6 years ago

Let's set the record straight about money - it only gets an employer into the game. To compete with other companies, in terms of being the choice place to work, you have to pay enough so that employees perceive you are in the same league. (And, that doesn't mean you have to be exactly the same, btw.) Once you have put a price out there that is comparable to other employers, the game has just begun. The most important factor in job satisfaction is the experience people have day in and day out - and this primarily is the work you are doing and who you are working with. Ping pong and beer Fridays are all fun and good, but don't count for much when your boss is a complete moron and you are working on the world's most mind-numbing project. It also doesn't make up for verbal abuse or the stress of working 18+ hours a day. Once you have fair pay, interesting work and great people, then the benefits and perks come into play. A company's attitude and approach to the workplace provides insight into both their values and how they approach day to day work. A great employer will seek to understand what their employees value in terms of benefits and work environment, and strive to create a workplace that meets these needs. And this can make a difference between good and great employee morale.

How do you feel about employees working remotely?

Asked by Tasmeen over 6 years ago

Huge fan - we currently offer this benefit to all of our employees, and find that it is a morale booster. For it to work, however, there are certain conditions that need to be in place. First, the job needs to be one that can be done effectively remotely. For example, it's hard to be a retail cashier from your living room (unless you are selling something I don't want to know about.) There need to be ground rules in place regarding core hours, communication, and team availability. Team members get incredibly frustrated if they have a question and their coworker isn't responding - they develop a perception that perhaps someone is off playing video games somewhere. And, finally, demonstrated productivity is key to showing the value of the benefit. When lobbying for it, showing the direct benefit the company receives is the strongest argument that can be made to management.

If I politely ask a co-worker out on a date, is that grounds for harassment? I've heard that asking once is not, but asking again could be.

Asked by anonymous over 6 years ago

Ah, like all things in HR, the answer is somewhat situational. If you are your co-worker's boss (or in anyway senior and influential over her job), the best advice I can give you is to not go there. There are risks - if she says no, and you later have discipline problems, she can claim retaliation. If she says yes, you can only win if you stay in happy bliss and, likely, change the nature of the reporting relationship. You also open yourself up to favoritism allegations from employees you are not dating. This answer, of course, assumes you are only dating one employee at a time. I strongly advise against dating two or more at a time, even if you aren't the boss. If you are peers, it's less of an issue. In fact, a high percentage of spouses meet in the workplace. In general, harassment occurs when someone's behavior creates a hostile environment. Typically, this means if you ask someone out once, and then keep all other interactions professional and consistent with other coworkers (unless you are a jerk), if she says no you are likely OK. Same holds for dating and breaking up - keep it professional. If you are going to date someone at work, I recommend agreeing ahead of time on some ground rules for how you will interact in the workplace, both for when dating and if you break up. You should also check and see what your company's policy is on dating - some prohibit it, some require you to inform HR about it.

What was the worst reaction you've ever had from an employee you laid off or fired?

Asked by SeverenceIsBliss over 6 years ago

This is hard to answer - there have been some very interesting reactions! Plus, it's hard to define worst. In the context of this answer, I will define worst as the most unprofessional / what I recommend least when being fired for inappropriate behavior. Here's some pointers: * Don't have your mom call me after you have been fired for repeated inappropriate behavior. I swear it won't make a difference. * Yelling "you are a big chicken" to your (now former) manager isn't going to help your networking, no matter how much better it makes you feel in the moment. * Running away from the office before you are fired doesn't mean you can avoid it. * Finally, it's all about timing - you are likely to be 0-for-2 if you ask me out on a date two minutes after I have told you that you are fired. Awkward... Lastly, with regards to layoffs - those are the hardest conversations ever. 99% of the time the employee has done nothing to deserve the termination, and I usually have a long term relationship with them. I can only hope that I handle it with enough grace so that the employee retains their dignity and is given enough support to transition well.

Are there any "legendary" figures in the world of HR? Like, someone who led the charge in turning company morale around at a massive company that was nosediving?

Asked by Anonymous over 6 years ago

Dave Ulrich is the man! And now all of you are asking, "Who???" Dave is a professor at Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan. His work centers around organizational capacity, and he has done a significant amount of research into the broad topic. His insight is fascinating to an HR geek like myself - his conclusions are spot on, and generally predictive of what HR people will be experiencing in the future. More than simply being academic, he has written over 20 books that take somewhat nebulous concepts and translate them into actionable frameworks and tools. OK, I'll stop geeking out now.

While in HR, have you ever dated anyone you worked with and did you keep it a secret?

Asked by shana over 6 years ago

Ah... truth hurts. Yes, I have, and on more than one occasion. Let's just say I can be a slow learner at times. But I do know what I speak of when I give advice. In the first case, I was very young, and while in HR, it wasn't in a role that had any significant authority or responsibility. We were public, and when it ended, everyone knew about it. The drama... it's embarrassing looking backwards. The second time (still young) we were both being laid off in a couple of months, so I felt it was OK given there was a near end-date in sight. Even so, we were secret about it. For a while. Until people figured it out (it was a very small office.) The third and last time (seriously, do as I say, not as I do)... it was quiet, under the radar and short. It ended gracefully, and we went forward professionally and without incident. That is, until he was fired, and I had to confess to my boss that I might not be the most objective HR person to deal with the issue. That was seriously humiliating and a total buzz-kill to any romantic engagements at the workplace. I have to admit, I feel a little bit better coming clean. ;-)

If harassing behavior occurs outside of the office and outside of business hours, does this still qualify as harassment?

Asked by followupyup over 6 years ago

Yup. Anytime you have a professional relationship with someone, you do need to be mindful that what happens in Vegas, doesn't always stay in Vegas. To give an example, a manager harassing an employee at a mutual friend's wedding is still going to creep out the employee - even more so on Monday when they have to see them in the office. A similar example is from a recent court case. In this example, a management employee and a coworker were at a mutual friend's birthday party. At this party, the coworker mentioned to the manager that she was having issues with her boss, but that she didn't want the manager to do anything about it. Two years later, when the employee sued the company for harassment, she cited telling this management employee about her concerns at this party as one of the times she gave the company notice of the problem. The court held this to be true, even though the manager was not a manager of the employee, and was in a separate department. Both the company, and this management employee, were held liable for knowingly allowing harassment to happen.

People typically associate HR with hiring/firing/disputes, but it seems like your job is more than that. What's one way you think employees UNDERutilize their HR representatives?

Asked by Liesel over 6 years ago

Thank you for asking this question! We HR peeps do have a bit of a chip on our shoulder about our reputation - this gives me a chance to set the record straight. One of my favorite roles is to play as a sounding board or coach for employees at all levels. Having dealt with many different employment situations, most HR people can discuss current issues with someone and help them evaluate the different approaches. This is especially true if the situation is something that could potentially escalate into a major dispute that HR would need to be involved with. It gives us a chance to head it off at the pass, and allow the employee(s) involved avoid a stressful situation. A collaborative approach can help people find their way through disagreements, challenging work assignments, or even difficult career path questions. It is empowering for the employee, and the HR person gets to play a more fulfilling role than bad cop / lawyer / mom.

If I want to fire an employee simply because I don't believe he has (or will ever have) the capability to do what he was hired to do, do I have to go through warnings or a "probation" period, or can I just cut right to the chase and fire him?

Asked by goldenaxe over 6 years ago

Ah, say it with me: "Nothing Is Easy". You are correct - all of us have certain skills and are capable of learning and developing in these key areas. There are some things we will never be good at, no matter how hard we try. The challenge in this situation is whether or not the employee agrees that they suck at their job, and are likely not to improve. If so, you typically can have honest conversations about how to support the employee moving to a position that is better suited for their skill set - either with the company or elsewhere. (I don't recommend using the words "you suck" in the conversation, as it generally doesn't engender goodwill.) If the employee doesn't see the light, and disagrees with your opinion on their abilities, you can simply fire them - but you probably want to do a risk assessment before taking that step as there are legal and business factors to consider. If this a small industry, and will you likely need to work with this person down the road in a different capacity, you will probably want to protect the relationship. The person will want to feel they were treated fairly and given the opportunity to address the issue. The legal risk is that the employee could claim that performance was a 'pretext' reason for the termination and that, instead, the real reason for firing them was illegal (for gender, age, race, etc.) Your best defense against this type of claim is to show the person was treated fairly, and given the opportunity to address the issue. (See a theme?)

I've been told that if you report sexual harassment you're let go. Quite a few women I know have reported this happening to them. How can women avoid this?

Asked by howzit over 6 years ago

Harassment does happen, and it is awful for many reasons. No employee, male or female, should be in a situation where they are made to feel uncomfortable based on any personal characteristic. When it does happen, HR or management has a legal obligation to take the complaint seriously, investigate the situation, and remedy the situation. Some companies don't do this and, instead, make the situation even worse by taking further action harmful to the impacted employee. To anyone who finds themself in a situation where they are being harassed, my first advice is to seek internal resources to fix the problem. Most companies, and HR people, do want to do right by their people. If that doesn't happen, and you continue to be harassed, for personal well-being I suggest taking steps to find another job somewhere else on your own. If a company isn't going to protect its employees legal rights in one area, it likely is not going to be respectful in other areas. And I would consider taking legal action against the company, depending on the extent of the situation and your personal desire to do so. Maybe, just maybe, the last few neanderthals out there who engage in harassment might get scared enough to stop. Or, the people around them who enable the behavior will stand up to them.

Thoughts on the movie Up In The Air? Representative of the layoff experience or exaggerated for Hollywood?

Asked by Misty over 6 years ago

Totally exaggerated - no one is that smooth and good at firing people. It may not seem like the person doing the firing has any feelings, but they do. They are usually scared out of their mind, afraid to screw it up, because they don't do it all the time. Often they genuinely care about the person, as they have worked together a while, and are super bummed. And they don't want to get the stink eye when they run into them at the local coffee shop.

The guy in the cubicle next to be REEKS to high heaven. But he's also the nicest, most gentle guy on earth (think "Stapler Guy" from Office Space). I can't bring myself to tell him directly -- can I ask HR to intervene and tell him to shower?

Asked by GMP over 6 years ago

Yup. I have had to have the following conversations more than once: * You need to take a shower before work * You need to wear clean clothes to the office * It is inappropriate to not wear shoes into the restroom * There are over the counter remedies, such as Beano, that can help address the dispute between you and your coworkers And you can ask HR to do it in an anonymous fashion...

I was laid off because the economy sucked and our practice was hurting, but in my meeting they tried to dress it up as performance-based. I don't understand why they couldn't have just said "listen, we think you're a good employee but we're not doing well and can't afford to keep you around. " Are there legal consequences to a company characterizing a layoff as performance-based vs. economic?

Asked by Precious over 6 years ago

I'm sorry - that sounds like a terrible experience. It's adding insult to injury. I hope they gave you a decent severance package, at least. In general, when doing layoffs, you do need to be able to legally justify who you selected for layoff as opposed to who you didn't. This decision making process defines the factors taken into account when selecting who is impacted, and usually includes one or more of: skill set, location, time in job and / or performance. While this process needs to be defined, it doesn't need to be communicated to impacted individuals during the layoff process. I don't know if your performance truly was an issue, but it sounds as if they wanted to communicate that it was and it was how they make their decision. When you say "our practice", I am assuming you worked at a law firm. Being a bunch of lawyers, my guess is that they were trying to cover their rear ends by providing you a 'defensible reason' for choosing you to lay off. That's sort of crummy, especially when you consider if they offered you severance, it came with a release from claims. If you sign that, you can't come back and sue them - so no need to worry about providing a reason at the beginning of the process.

While looking for jobs, I've often heard companies using the term "hiring freeze". Is this usually b.s.?

Asked by spivey over 6 years ago

It is a highly overused term. Without knowing all the details, I would guess that you are applying for roles that are not central to what an organization does. For example, as a tech company, I will always be hiring developers. But, that isn't true in other areas such as Marketing, Legal or Finance. Because these are considered 'support' functions, headcount is very closely managed in these areas. It may be possible that you are applying at organizations that are truly in a freeze - but in my experience this is quite rare. It usually happens in organizations that are super small, in severe financial distress or a business in which labor is the largest cost and managed down to the very minutes employees work (like a call center, for example.)

I was convicted of a major felony about 12 years ago. Since that time, I have earned my bachelors Magna Cum Laude, and am considering getting an MBA. I still can't get a job. Will the MBA help? Is there any real hope for executive level career?

Asked by brad white over 6 years ago

I am sorry you are having such a hard time. It is clear that you have worked hard to overcome your past, but are still facing some challenges. Fortunately, just a few months ago, there has been an update in this area that may be helpful to you as you move forward in your career. Recently, the EEOC issued guidelines that outline when employers can take into account the criminal history of a job applicant or employee. In the past, employers typically had a policy of not hiring individuals who had felony convictions, regardless of the details of that conviction. This no longer is permissible, and each situation must be considered individually. The EEOC cites the most important considerations as: (1) the nature and gravity of the offense (2) the time that has lapsed since the offense and (3) the nature of the job. To learn more, I recommend you check out the details at the EEOC's website at The information is long, but it will help you understand how this new approach works and can give you some specific steps you can take to address the situation. Good luck! I wish you much success and continued achievement.

Is dating an HR person riskier than the usual workplace dating?

Asked by curiousgeorge over 6 years ago

You might want to ask this of some of my ex-boyfriends. I thought it was fine, but to be honest, I think it was a little like Hot for Teacher. There certainly was an added edge of excitement, if you know what I mean. That being said, the risk likely is more to the HR person than the other employee, unless that person is the boss. Who wouldn't question what the HR person and their significant other talk about away from the workplace? It potentially ruins the credibility of the HR person, and could make the other person untrustworthy in the eyes of their peers. And, if there is favoritism involved, the HR person can be sued. You think I would have learned this lesson the first time. Happily, the third time was the charm!

Why doesn't Human Resources get more respect?

Asked by Meaghan000 over 6 years ago

I can't get no respect! Can you hear Rodney Dangerfield in your head? Overall, I haven't ever felt I was treated without respect or appreciation. But I do think that HR as a profession can sometimes carry a negative connotation for people, and I chalk it up to two factors: 1. HR used to be "Personnel" - the place where you filled out a lot of paperwork, were told the rules and received your safety training. You also were taken there when you broke some rules, and got in trouble. Fortunately, with the advent of computers, all that paperwork crap is gone. And none too soon, I have terrible handwriting. As for getting in trouble... well, if you are always in trouble, you likely won't like HR no matter what. 2. Like many professions where you spend at least part of your time solving other people's problems, drama-prone people can be drawn to HR. It's the "I need to feel needed to feel OK" orientation - and HR seems to draw a higher percentage of individuals than, say, software development. I interviewed someone not too long ago who said she wanted to be in HR because she loved spending a lot of time talking to people about their feelings. Oy. All it takes is for one or two run-ins with someone like that, and it's no wonder that people shy away from HR. All that said, there are many more kick ass people in HR who have earned the respect and admiration of the people they work with.

Whose "side" is HR on? If an employee complains about a supervisor in such a way that could be harmful to the company, is HR's job to help the employee or defend the company?

Asked by employee2218 over 6 years ago

I think it really comes down to the company you work for, and how they treat employees in general. HR has a legal obligation to create a workplace that is compliant with a variety of laws, many that have to do with our rights as employees. It's how this obligation is interpreted and enacted that makes the difference. You can have a workplace that is completely compliant with the law, but makes employees feel disrespected and scared to express concerns. I know, as I've unfortunately worked at places like that. It really sucked - and I got the heck outta dodge. Good HR people understand that taking care of your employees is the best way to ultimately take care of the company itself. It shouldn't be an either / or, it should be recognized that when employees win, the company wins. If an employee brings forward a complaint about their supervisor, it should be taken seriously, professionally, and handled in a way that is respectful and discrete for all parties involved. And once resolution is reached, HR should help everyone move on in a positive direction.

I used to work for a film studio that would not let us leave for lunch, even though it was my legal right to do so. But if I complained, they would've found someone else to do the job who wouldn't complain. How can employees raise LEGITIMATE concerns without feeling like they'll be on the chopping block?

Asked by NED over 6 years ago

Sad, but true- there are workplaces that exist that are not respectful or observant of employee rights. First, know that you do have legal recourse if you want to pursue that avenue. Assuming that you worked in California (film studio reference), the state is very strict in what employers need to do to be compliant with state laws, and have agencies dedicated to enforcement of these laws. You can always make a complaint to an agency, who then would investigate the situation. If found guilty, the company would be responsible for paying significant penalties and demonstrate a change in policies to be compliant. That being said, many people choose to not pursue this avenue, as it can be costly to them personally. Many people work in small industries and are concerned that if they take action that will cause the company trouble, they will suffer consequences. I've worked in HR long enough to know that this happens, and that while in the long term justice may prevail, the employees in the situation are usually who suffers the most - financially, emotionally and from a career progression point of view. If that is your situation (and it unfortunately sounds like it) I suggest that you start small. For example - do you even know who your HR resources are? Perhaps get to know them through other HR subjects such as benefits or payroll questions, and establish a relationship with them. Learn what the company's grievance process is - some include an anonymous complaint line directly into the legal team, who have an obligation to follow up on the call. Or, if you belong to a union, that would be a good resource for you as well. Unions exist to protect employees and their rights. I'd do everything I can to educate myself on what my internal resources were, and to establish a relationship with the people in those roles. Sometimes just knowing what exists outside of your direct reporting relationship can provide avenues towards issue resolution.

In your experience, which is more important: great upper management, or great middle maanagement?

Asked by Ghost Ryder over 6 years ago

That one is easy - great upper management. If you have awesome middle management, but the people that run the show are a-holes, you have no hope for a great workplace. At least with crappy middle managers, you can always go to the top for support and inspiration. And hopefully some timely "your fired!" comments...

I took a job recently, somewhat out of desperation. I learned pretty quickly after starting that I'm getting WAY underpaid relative to others at the same level. Is there anything I can do to correct the salary imbalance?

Asked by duped84 over 6 years ago

Well, you can address this - and you can do it in a way that is professional, positive and can hopefully lead to a good result. But in order to change things at your current company, you will need to ask for a change. The company was aware of the difference in pay when they made you the offer, and didn't correct it at the time. The ball is in your court. I would start by doing more homework. Write down what you know about your coworkers - also known as 'internal market data'. Then, I would check out some additional external sources, which will provide additional back up. I recommend and Sometimes, job posting sites such as or have salary information, but it is hit or miss. One note: many companies hate it that employees talk to each other about pay. However, this is your right - and the right of your coworkers. I would just be careful, as pay can be a very private subject for people. In other words, don't antagonize / piss off your coworkers asking them for pay information. That won't go over well, and disrupting the workplace can get you in trouble. Take all of this information and consolidate it down to some bullet points of what you have learned. I suggest also printing out the job descriptions and pay information from the websites you looked at. This demonstrates that you are looking at comparable jobs and not making stuff up. I would not, however, be very specific about who you spoke with internally. Again, people get uncomfortable with their own pay. I'd leave it fairly general, similar to how you've written it above. Then, prepare to talk. How you approach your boss is as important as the information you provide. In some cases, it might be a good idea to send an email before meeting face to face. This gives your manager time to do some homework. In terms of what to say, I recommend something along the following lines: * I'm enjoying my new role here as XXX. Hopefully you have found my contributions to date to be valuable to you and the team. (Fill in more appropriate 'I'm happy here, and I hope you are happy with me too' stuff as necessary.) * I do have a concern that I would like to discuss with you. Specifically, upon reflection, I feel that in negotiating my starting salary with you, I undervalued my skills and have done myself a disservice. * I've learned more about what my role is typically compensated at, both internal and external to the company. In both cases, the average is about XXXXX more than my pay. * I would like to discuss with you steps that can potentially be taken to remedy this. I'm open to finding a creative solution that works for both of us. * I've set time on our calendars on (fill in day here) for us to follow up. The second to last bullet point is an important one. Companies can be quite flexible when it comes to pay. Some may offer you a raise on the spot. Others might offer to revisit your salary after 3-6 months on the job. If that is the case, I would be very clear on what their expectations are of you so you can kill it. Some get super creative - how about a 4 day / 36 hour work week instead? Bottom line, the more flexible you are, the more likely you are to ultimately get what you want from this company in the long term. They can also say no. Or, they can say they will revisit it in a timeline that is not in line with yours. If that is the case, you could resume your job search on the side. It's not ideal, but at the same time, you have expressed what you need to be happy and your employer has decided to not to work with you to reach that happy place. I wouldn't advertise it, and I suggest being very thoughtful and picky now that you have a source of steady income. The end goal should be to find an employer who values you and your skills fairly.

What do you think about someone being sexually harassed by a Casino Host. As a guest, it was very upsetting and basically nothing was done when I made a formal complaint to the upper management (HR). Want to take legal action against Casino!!!

Asked by JDVegas over 5 years ago

Lame - very lame. And, what's even worse, people typically don't act in a vacuum. If the host was awful to you, s/he likely was to other people as well.

Suing the company is where it gets a bit complicated. First, it depends on where you were that this happened. State laws tend to be a bit different when it comes to harassment law, with California being the strictest and easiest to pursue. It will also depend on the facts of the case. Was the host in a management position? How extreme was the incident? And, do you know for sure the company did nothing? Or, did they discipline the employee, but not make that known publicly - that is actually the typical response, due to privacy policies and laws.

If it were me, I'd actually look for resolution in a different manner - I would escalate the problem with the casino chain of management. I'd find the most senior executive I could, and reach out to them. Customer service organizations fear nothing more than an unhappy customer publicly denouncing services - and ruining their reputation in the process. It's like watching the news and the local customer protection reporter take on the case (in Seattle, we have "get Jesse") It's pretty amazing how quickly those situations seem to be resolved as soon as the story starts to go public. Much faster than a lawsuit, and cheaper than hiring a lawyer to be honest.




What would you say was your biggest HR blunder ever?

Asked by Aya! over 6 years ago

Ah, so many to choose from... and yet it always comes by to my dating life. It was quite embarrassing to tell my boss that the guy she needed me to fire was the same person I had broken up with two weeks before. And that was far more pleasant than the conversation with the guy. It went something along the lines of, "Remember how I told you it wasn't you, it was me? Well, I wasn't being completely honest. It really is you. And now (the company) is breaking up with you too."

If there's an African-American employee who's doing a poor job and needs to get canned, do you take extra precautions than if it were a white employee? And if he or she plays the race card, what do you do?

Asked by Aya! over 6 years ago

The short answers is no, I don't take extra precautions. Every employee in that situation should be treated fairly, regardless of any personal characteristics. Truth is, with the passage of many federal, state and local laws, just about any characteristic can be considered a 'protected category' - race, religion, national origin, age, gender, religion, military status, sexual orientation. If almost everyone falls into one or more protected categories, then is anyone really special? Hence my assertion that all employees who are going to be fired need to be treated fairly, consistently and with respect. Plus, it's the right thing to do. If someone raises a concern that they are not being treated fairly because of one of the above categories, then the company has an obligation to look into the concerns. Either HR, Legal or an outside investigator should talk with the employee, understand the issues, gather any additional information relevant to the situation, and make a determination if there is any discrimination occurring and, if so, if it is related to the employee's performance. What is found during that process guides next steps. If there is discrimination, then there are bigger issues than a non-performing employee. If not, then the issue of discrimination has been resolved and the performance process can continue forward.

Does Human Resources actually verify the education of job candidates?

Asked by Lucky777 almost 6 years ago

They do - as part of the background check process, many companies verify degrees as well as former employers. It is actually typically an outsourced process - there are companies that all they do is pull background information on people for purposes of employment verification.

I've learned through the termination process of several employees that an executive manager in the company has referred to me as incompetent. My question is, how do I deal with this? This particular exec has said this about a large number of people.

Asked by Ed Hughes about 6 years ago

Well that's sucky. I'm sorry, dude - it sounds like you work with a real jerk. Without knowing the full context, it's a bit hard to give you specific advice. But here's the general gist of what I would do. First, can you talk to your boss or another senior trusted advisor about the situation? It would help to get some context and understanding. For example, are there specific situations from your past performance that is causing this person to say this? Or, is he just a jerk? And, do they have advice for you to address any true shortfalls? You want the lay of the land before doing what I recommend next. And that would be... decide if you want to address the executive manager directly. Many times, bullies are all for disparaging people in situations when they aren't going to be confronted. But when directly and calmly addressed by someone, they realize that they can't bully someone - and they respect boundaries. Think back to the bully stealing a kid's lunch money. He never picks on the kid that's going to push back. You can ask him what his legitimate concerns are with you and what you can do to address them. You can also ask him to direct any concerns with your performance either directly to you or your boss. Telling others, but not you, doesn't allow you the opportunity to fix any concerns. It just makes him a badmouthing ass. (Adjust language as appropriate to the situation.) Finally, if this executive manager behaves as an equal opportunity jerk, and the company decides to not address it, you might be in a situation where you need to decide if you can live with the situation as it is. If he does this to everyone, most people might just write him off as a jerk and ignore him. It does, however, demonstrate a lack of care and concern on behalf of your company. That would worry me more in the long run - it is worth it to work somewhere that people are allowed to behave that way? Maybe. It depends on what you get in return.

Have you ever hired someone that you regretted bringing on almost immediately?

Asked by BKrad000 over 5 years ago

Yup - I knew, in my gut, when we interviewed two candidates that the first one would be a better fit for my team. But we had feedback from our client groups that they preferred candidate number two because he seemed to have more expertise in the area (he was a tech recruiter). In an effort to be a better service provider to them, we went with the person they preferred... and I wish we hadn't.

It was pretty clear within the first two weeks that the person we ended up hiring was NOT a good fit - poor communication skills, wasn't able to carry a full workload compared to his peers and all around a square peg in a round hole. The client groups weren't happy either - while they appreciated the one thing this person could do (find candidates online), it was frustrated trying to get any other deliverables from the person. And, in the end, we had to let him go after only a few weeks.

I should have listened to myself the first time!

Why don't more lawyers go into HR? Given how touchy, nuanced, and intertwined HR and employment law matters are, wouldn't that make a lot of sense?

Asked by Bento Boxer 74 almost 6 years ago

The short answer has to be money - HR people have a seriously low bill rate compared with lawyers. All joking aside, there are some HR people who have a background in employment law before getting into an HR role. But legal / compliance work is only a small part of what good HR people do. Hopefully they are spending more of their time on the fun stuff - creating innovative development programs, communicating with employees or designing compensation plans that achieve business results while rewarding people. Knowing the legal stuff is just the beginning and, if all the person knows, not enough to be a great HR professional.

why are there so many more women than men in HR?

Asked by hellian221 almost 6 years ago

Excellent question... The flip side of the question is "why are there so many more men in science and technology?" I think there is something in our culture that generally tends to discourage girls from participating in math and science, while guiding them to more social areas of play and study. The opposite can be said about boys - talking about feelings and playing collaborative, non-competitive games seems to be discouraged. These are HUGE generalizations here, and this is not to say that this isn't changing. But I don't think it is reasonable to look at the % of HR people who are female and the % of engineers who are male and say there isn't something going on when we are kids. I hope we figure it out, and provide more opportunities for people of either gender to express any part of themselves they choose. Because the truth is, the qualities that make someone good in a role really aren't based in gender. The ability to negotiate compromise and facilitate communication come in all formats. And the wicked smarts needed to write simple, elegant code that solves complex problems exists in male and female brains in equal measure. And, really guys, it is cool to be an HR person. I swear.

When companies ask an applicant for REFERENCES, how useful is that in actuality, when of course they're only going to name people who will have good things to say about them, right?

Asked by Cind15 over 5 years ago

That is one of the hardest parts about hiring. It's important to get references, as there is only so much you can determine from interviewing a candidate. It's like deciding to marry someone after one or two dates, you have to make a decision with limited information. References do help in that you can ask questions about lingering points from the interview process and, usually, people do try to answer truthfully. But it is typical for most people who act as references to provide a positive picture of the candidate. This is what good friends and colleagues do, and really, thank goodness. Work would suck if not.


Have you ever been forced to fire someone when you didn't think it was fair?

Asked by joey almost 6 years ago

Yes, and it led me to leave my job shortly thereafter. The person wasn't great in the job she had recently moved into, but as a long term employee (15+ years), steps should have been taken to help her find something else in the company that she could be successful at. The particular executive involved didn't care, and asked me to fire her while he was on vacation. His exact words were "I want her gone by the time I am back." It was awful and I regret it to this day - it was a valuable lesson that I've never forgotten. Now, when I interview for positions, I always ask questions about the values and ethics of the people I am going to work with. For me, it's just not worth it to ever again be in a position where I am asked to implement decisions that I can't support ethically.

Is the "fire people on a Friday" thing a myth?

Asked by anon almost 6 years ago

Nope. It is not a standard rule, and in fact, there are people divided on whether it is a good thing or a bad thing. There seems to be two rules of thumb: - Fire on a Friday and give them time to process over the weekend. - Fire them on a Tuesday so it doesn't ruin their weekend and we have all week to clean up the collateral damage. My personal preference is to give someone as much notice as possible, to think about how they would like for things to play out. I like Fridays. You get a head's up that your job is ending, think about how you want to characterize it to the external world, and figure out all the questions you have about what is going on. Then, meet on Monday to get all those answers. Just make sure the employee isn't taking off on a really fun weekend to get away - that would suck.

How come pets aren't allowed in offices? What's HR got against dogs?

Asked by Julien almost 6 years ago

Nothing - I love animals in the office! I just took a moment to give our office dog, Squid, a belly rub. In fact, a study came out last month that showed that animals in the office are good for employee morale, stress levels and even productivity. This one, unfortunately, has to be blamed on the facilities people and crabby landlords.

Do I have to reveal to my HR I'm running for office? I've been elected before and running again for the last time. I just obtained a PT job and don't want to lose it. It won't cause any conflicts at the moment, but could as media attention ramps up.

Asked by Paz over 5 years ago

The answer somewhat depends. First, I would look at the employee handbook - sometimes, there are specific policies that govern activities outside work relating to conflicts of interest or moonlighting (second paid job). I would check the handbook and see if it raises your particular situation. If not, then it is likely up to you. As an employer, I would appreciate the head's up. But if there's nothing in the policies, then it's your call.

I know it's illegal to discriminate based on nationality, BUT hiring a foreigner often involves visa application costs. Can a company claim that it's the COSTS they can't afford, even though it's essentially the same as refusing based on nationality?

Asked by intl over 5 years ago

Actually - it's more than costs that would prevent a company from hiring someone who needs government approval to work in the US. As part of the process of applying for a visa, the company needs to demonstrate that they are not able to hire a US citizen to do the work. The standards do vary based on what type of visa the employee needs; for example, Green Card standards are higher than for an H1-B. Overall, the company basically tells the government that they need to hire a foreign worker because they are unable to find a US citizen who can perform the work.

If you or someone you know has been turned down for work because a visa is required, it likely is that the company didn't feel they could meet the legal standard of demonstrating that there are no US citizens available for the job.

I just started a part time job. Do I need to disclose the fact I'm running for office? I've been elected before and running again. I live in a semi small town and don't want to lose my job. I don't intend to stay in politics after this term.

Asked by Karen over 5 years ago

The answer somewhat depends. First, I would look at the employee handbook - sometimes, there are specific policies that govern activities outside work relating to conflicts of interest or moonlighting (second paid job). I would check the handbook and see if it raises your particular situation. If not, then it is likely up to you. As an employer, I would appreciate the head's up. But if there's nothing in the policies, then it's your call.

Hi there! Is HRs first priority to protect the company, or the executive leaders when employees retaliate? Two members of my newly expanded team have filed complaints, investigations are underway. When should I consider retaining my own atty?

Asked by Chris almost 5 years ago

HR is tasked with upholding the values, rules and policies of a company - regardless of who is in violation of them. So, if an executive has engaged in harassment, HR will hold them accountable Similarly, if an employee knowingly makes false accusations that are of a harassing nature towards a senior employee, in violation of company policy or local law, HR should hold them accountable as well. One VERY IMPORTANT call out - the key in that statement lies in being able to discern intent and true violation of company policy. It's important that all employees feel they are able to raise concerns to HR without threat. If they fear reprisal for raising issues that may not be in violation with company policy, that can have chilling effect which is very destructive. That's why conducting thorough, impartial investigations are a necessary part of dispute resolution. 

In terms of retaining an attorney, I don't have enough information about the situation to answer you well. As a general response, I would let HR conduct the investigation. If they are good at what they do, they will seek to understand what happened, determine if any violation of company policy exists and, if so, take appropriate steps to address it. That can be everything from issuing a written warning up to termination of employment.  If you don't feel the process is fair, by all means either escalate or seek outside assistance. 

An employee overhears a Manager say " where can I find a hitman " and the employee reports it and is told it was a " joke " but the Manager starts harassing the employee who reported it, what is the solution ?

Asked by Donald Webber over 4 years ago

I'd go back to HR! Employees shouldn't be penalized for reporting concerns in the workplace. And the manager should know better - which it doesn't sound like he does. I'd go back to HR (or the manager's boss) and ask for their assistance in ensuring that the employee's right to raise concerns without fear of retaliation are respected.

I recently found that some of my fellow employees in the same position with less time in seat are making 15-20 thousand more dollars a year...I feel cheated because my education and certifications put me ahead of the game but I am grossly underpaid.

Asked by How to Handle Correctly? about 4 years ago

That's a bummer! I'm sorry to hear that, it really stinks to feel so undervalued.

I recommend that you discuss this with your manager. However, you should do some homework first. Determining pay is a little bit science, and a little bit art. Education and certifications are two factors that count when determining someone's 'going price'. Other items that factor in, sometimes more heavily, include prior experience, time in the field, and previous accomplishments. If you look at or, you can get a good idea of salary ranges in general for your field. They typically provide some data that can help you to see what the pay range is and often have data that indicates time in role, scope of job, etc.

I'd do some homework, and then meet with your boss. Be fairly straight forward in letting her know that you were prompted to do some research because of what you learned, and upon further investigation, found that the going rate for your skills is higher than your current pay. Based on that information, ask for a pay review. The worst they can say is no, in which case, I'd ask for an explanation. That alone would give you insight into what it would take to get a pay change in your current role, and you can then decide if you are interested in pursuing that path.

Is your current role a Generalist or Specialist role and Who do you have to report to?

Asked by Renee about 4 years ago

I am a HR Business Partner, and I report into the head of HR for the company.

what do you like and dislike about your position?

Asked by Renee about 4 years ago

I really enjoy helping people achieve their full potential. This can mean finding the right role for them, ensuring they have the the support they need to do their job, or perhaps providing some coaching on a particular issue they are struggling with. When they do succeed, it's incredibly fulfilling.

The hardest part of my job is dealing with human situations that are part of life - illness, loss, grief. Being in HR means supporting people in all sorts of situations, and the hardest ones are those that we have no control over. In those situations, I'm humbled to support people anyway I can and hope that it provides a bit of help in a difficult time.

what education, qualifications and experience do you bring to your position and how did you obtain your role in the company?

Asked by Renee about 4 years ago

I have a bachelor's degree in Environmental Studies, of all things. Earning a degree was important for me - it gave me confidence in my abilities, and taught me how to research information and write effectively. I also started at the very bottom of HR, as an HR coordinator, and worked my way up. I've been in the field for over 22 years and call on that experience every day. I

Is human resources effective in your organization and why or why not ?

Thank you.

Asked by Renee about 4 years ago

We are - we have done a good job of understanding our business, and providing the right support, resources and people solutions needed to reach our goals. That's not to say we are perfect, or that we don't have items we could do better. But I am proud of the partnership we have with our business leaders, the respect we have from our people, and the items we have been able to accomplish. And it all starts with truly knowing our business, our goals and our people, and working to support all of them.

What's the hardest situation you've had to deal with over the course of your career in HR?

Asked by BeYou almost 4 years ago

Ah, this is a hard one. 

There are many difficult things I've experienced - firing employees, layoffs, business failure, personal failure. But, in 2013, I experienced the hardest situation I've ever dealt with. One of my employees passed away, very unexpectedly. It was the first time I felt completely powerless. I couldn't change the situation. I couldn't influence it to ensure a soft landing. And I really didn't get a chance to say goodbye, and thank him for being a good friend. 

I still miss him, and the lesson stays with me - appreciate what you have and make the most of this day. Nothing else we are dealing with is actually that hard. We may fail at something. We may not get the promotion we wanted. But we get another chance tomorrow. Enjoy every up and down, because life is now.

Hi, I'm doing a project for school and had a few questions. the first is how did you get into Human Resources? what career path did you follow?

Asked by Renee about 4 years ago


Is HR career including daily contact with people? (if yes, in what percentage? e.g. 20%). Also what percentage is entirely paperwork approx.? During your career did you had the opportunity to meet new people, regardless the industry you were in?

Asked by Maxnagelo about 3 years ago


I see kids today sharing EVERYTHING on their social media profiles. Do you think that's going to result in a rethinking of traditional HR standards when they start to enter the workforce?

Asked by R.E.M. almost 4 years ago


I am B.Sc + DOEACC 'B' Level(MCA equivalent) ,Working as Software Professional for last 10 Years.
I have done BCA (regular mode) while on job.I have got written permisstion from
employer that i can do regular degree while on job .
My question is , while joining next company , can i show BCA as qualification ?
Will it be added aditional advantage ?
If any company asking for BCA qualification, can i apply ?

Asked by Ayan BAnerjee almost 3 years ago