Employees were literally lining up outside her door!
Heather Didn’t Merely Have HR Problems –
Dear HR Professional:
Recently, my sister-in-law Heather Wheat dressed up for a costume party as a 70s-era disco diva. The paisley dress, the platform shoes – every detail was perfect. Before we left for the party, I sidled up to her with a mock pickup line of, “Hey, baby, what’s your sign?”
“My sign?” she laughed. “You know it. It’s a plus sign!”
We both laughed. But it was true. Heather always said she was at her ideal weight – “plus 15 pounds.” Her husband, Phil, worked as the manager of the PLUS department store (“Priced Low – U Save!”). And when every one else had babies, Heather, of course, had twins.
But of all the places where a plus sign applied to Heather, perhaps nowhere was it more applicable than at work. Heather runs the HR department for a custom furniture manufacturer that employs about 100 people in three states. The company had grown dramatically in the past few years – but Heather’s staff hadn’t.
We traded e-mails recently (she didn’t have time for lunch, or even coffee). “Just checking in,” mine said. "How’s everything going?” Her response was succinct: “AAAAAAAAARRRGH!”
I immediately picked up the phone, and got her voice mail. I sent a text to her cell at the end of the day and got no reply. She finally called me when she was on her way home – at 8:30 p.m.
“Tough day?” I asked.
“They’re all tough!” she practically shouted. “I’ve got FMLA paperwork up the wazoo … reporting requirements from the new states we’re in … workers’ comp garbage to deal with … leave requests to get approved … and now the boss’s former secretary is threatening to sue him for sexual harassment!”
“Wow,” I gasped. “Can you hire someone to help you out?”
“We don’t have the budget for that," she said. "I can’t even talk to a lawyer about this lawsuit without getting nailed for a four-figure retainer. And I’d love to bring in a consultant to make sure I’m filing the I-9s properly, and that our documentation is in order for that guy the boss wants to fire.
“Even if I had the money to bring someone in, I don’t have the time to take out of my day. I’m doing a million things, and I don’t even know if I’m doing them right. Tanya, people are literally lining up outside my door!”
“Man, Heather,” I commiserated. “Sounds like you’ve got problems.”
“Are you kidding me? I’ve got problems plus!”
I thought for a moment. “You know what? When you said 'problems plus,' you just reminded me of something. I do some freelance work for a company that has a web site called HR Specialist: Premium Plus, that has all sorts of tools for busy HR pros like you.
“They just added a whole new bunch of really cool features. You can even sign up for a free trial. I’ll forward the URL to you tomorrow – it just might help.”
“That sounds great,” Heather said. "But could you do me a favor and send it tonight?”
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I got another 8:30 call from Heather last night. “Please don’t tell me you’re still at the office,” I groaned.
“Nope – I’m on my way home from the boys’ baseball game,” she chirped. “That web site you told me about was a godsend. I downloaded a sample policy on social networking … looked up employment laws in two states where we’re thinking of expanding … reviewed our current policies in an online self-audit … listened to a podcast on unions … and read up on FMLA intermittent leave – a huge pain for us!
“I even e-mailed a question to their Ask the Attorney thing – and got a response two days later. This service is amazing – and when my free trial ends, I’ll definitely be staying with it.”
“Holy moly, Heather,” I said. "It sounds like Premium Plus Online has been a tremendous help to you.”
“Are you kidding me?" she said. "It’s been a tremendous help plus!”
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