The internet is full of stories about Amazon’s work environment. You have, of course,The New York Times claiming it’s the worst place ever. Then you have Jeff Bezos coming out and saying, “The article doesn’t describe the Amazon I know or the caring Amazonians I work with every day.”

Employees (and former employees) have come out on both sides. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle. Some people thrive in the environment. Others wilt. Many startups would love to grow the way Amazon has. The question is, just how hard can you push your employees?

If the worst of the worst stories about Amazon are true, that’s not the way to do it. When you need ambulances parked outside, you’re doing it wrong. Constant pressure, competition, and stress are unsustainable in the long run. Amazon’s turnover rates are super-high, and this is undoubtedly why. You need success in the long run. You can’t afford a high turnover rate–turnover is expensive. Here’s how to push your employees to the limit in a sustainable manner.

To keep reading, click here: How Far You Can Push Employees Without Resorting to ‘the Amazon Way’

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First and foremost, I love burritos and I love Chipotle. So, when I hear that Chipotle is planning to hire 4,000 workers in one day, my heart simultaneously jumps (more burritos!) and sinks (stunt hiring is not productive). Here’s why hiring like this is bound to backfire.

Publicity is good, but…

Yes, this stunt will cause people who weren’t otherwise thinking of applying to Chipotle to show up and apply. This is a good thing–recruiting is often difficult and attracting people can be hard. However, just who is going to show up?

Well, that remains to be seen, of course, but a one-day hiring spree means that people who are already working will be less likely to apply. Why? Because instead of saying, “Chipotle plans to expand its workforce by 4,000 over the next three months,” they are promoting this as a one and done event, even though it’s unlikely to actually be like that. The result is, the publicity will make people who are currently employed less likely to apply if they are working on September 9. While I always advocate hiring the unemployed, it is true that employed people are great hires as well.

To keep reading, click here: How Chipotle’s Plan to Hire 4,000 Workers in One Day Is Sure to Backfire

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What Happens When I’m Forced to Go Non-Exempt?

by Evil HR Lady on August 24, 2015

I have been an exempt supervisor for the past ten years. With all this talk of the changes to exempt federal minimum wage, I have some questions. I’ve already heard rumors in my company that their intentions are to make the exempt employees who are making less than the proposed new minimum wage into nonexempt employees and schedule us for 36 hours per week.

My question is, will they be able to lower my pay below what I’m making now? In other words, say I am paid salary, and if it was to be broken down hourly it would be $16/hour, can they decide they want to give me $14/hour? The other question is if they change me to nonexempt without changing my job duties will I be able to sue for two years of back overtime?

Thanks for you help.
To read the answer, click here: What Happens When I’m Forced to Go Non-Exempt?

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How to Limit the Damage When You Fire an Employee

by Evil HR Lady on August 21, 2015

Someone I had to let go recently is making his departure very difficult for everyone. He was fired, not because he was a horrible person, but because he was not getting the job done. He just is not a fit for the environment – and over the years could not improve his performance.

We provided him with two options. Stay and undergo continued evaluation after re-evaluation until he improved, or leave and get a settlement.

He chose the former at first, then opted for the latter and is now saying he was coerced into resigning.

I work for an organization that is very public and visible and the last thing I want to do is get us on the front page of the local paper! Any advice or suggestions that you could share?

To read the answer, click here: How to Limit the Damage When You Fire an Employee

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Working at Amazon is Hell. So What?

by Evil HR Lady on August 20, 2015

The New York Times just published an expose of how difficult life is at Amazon. I suppose their goal was to make us feel bad for their poor employees. Now, to be clear, I’m happy to criticize Amazon when they deserve to be criticized–I completely disagree with their decision to not pay their employees during security checks–even though the supreme court agreed with them. I just don’t have a problem with a company that demands a lot from their employees.

Amazon corporate employees work long hours, don’t get fancy benefits and free lunches, and are expected to dedicate their souls to the company. It’s so awful that Amazon kidnaps people off the street and forces them to work for them. I mean, why haven’t police or FBI or broken down Amazon’s doors and freed these poor people?

To keep reading, click here: Working at Amazon is Hell. So What?

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10 Types of Employees That HR Secretly Hates

by Evil HR Lady on August 19, 2015

People generally go into Human Resources because they like people. After a few years of dealing with these humans, HR people can become cynical. You would too if you had to deal with these types below. If you see yourself in one, stop it.

1. Special snowflakes.

These employees feel like they aren’t subject to any of the rules. Showing up on time? Forget it. Always on his phone? You bet. The worst thing about special snowflakes isn’t the snowflakes themselves, but that their bosses allow the bad behavior to continue. HR can’t fire people directly (generally), they can only recommend it. It’s up to the manager to make the final decision. And managers who fall into this special snowflake category? You’re the reason we have so many lawsuits.

To keep reading, click here: 10 Types of Employees That HR Secretly Hates

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Why I’m Glad I Worked Fast Food

by Evil HR Lady on August 19, 2015

This post brought to you by National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation. The content and opinions expressed below are that of Evil HR Lady.

What do Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and I have in common? We both got our start in fast food–he started at McDonalds and I worked at Burger King. Do I wish I could have skipped the grease and crabby customers and gone straight into an office job? Well, 17-year-old me would have said yes, but 42-year-old me is happy for the experience I had there. Nothing teaches you about humans and what makes them tick than working in a restaurant.

Jeff and I (we’re on a first-name basis because I order so much of his stuff) aren’t the only ones who learned about business and people through asking “would you like fries with that?” According to the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF), one in three Americans get their start in a restaurant. That’s a ton of people. And it’s not just about earning some money, it’s about learning how to work.

Why do I look back fondly on my time at Burger King? Well, for one I love fast food–and restaurant food in general–but it’s more than that. I learned a ton during my time. Turns out there’s even a  Food and Beverage Service Competency Model that describes what most of us learn from our time in a restaurant. I didn’t stay in the restaurant business, but the first 3 tiers of their model apply directly to me.

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Tier 1–Personal Effectiveness Competencies. 

I learned quickly that if I wanted the good shifts and to move from the back line to the front line, I should work quickly and carefully. By being dependable and always showing up on time, my boss trusted me with the coveted morning shift. Why would a bunch of teenagers on summer vacation want a morning shift? Because then our evenings were free! (Yes, I napped in the afternoon.)

When I moved onto other jobs, I had a solid foundation. I knew how to work. I knew how to interact with a manager. I knew to double check my own work in order to prevent errors. I knew how to handle customers. I gained great career skills in those early years in a restaurant. I took the opportunity to learn how to work, and that has paid off well in other jobs.

Tier 2–Academic Competencies. 

The way the drive thru was set up, the cash register wouldn’t calculate change for you. You had to learn to count change. Fortunately, I didn’t have a problem with that, so I got to work drive thru a lot. But, those that didn’t know how to count back change had to quickly learn.

What about communication skills? I had to interact with hundreds of people every day–some of whom were not the most pleasant people. The Burger King I worked at was right off the interstate on the way to Zion’s National Park, which meant busloads of tourists–many of whom did not speak much English. I learned to communicate through gestures, pictures, and smiling even when I was frustrated.

I also learned how to think and plan. In the mornings, it was frequently me and one other person. We had to organize and get all the opening work done while serving customers. It took planning and coordination and the ability to be flexible. These are things that our teachers want us to learn, but that the schools struggle to teach us. Working in a restaurant will teach you those things.

Tier 3–Workplace Competencies. 

People who eat breakfast every day at a fast food restaurant tend to be (in my experience) a difficult crowd. They were mostly retirees who expected us to have their order memorized and ready by the time they got to the counter except (and this important) on they day they changed their mind. I, as a 17-year-old cashier, was supposed to know that *today* was the day that Bill would want a sausage-egg-and cheese croissant instead of his normal bacon-egg-and cheese croissant.

I learned to handle these things with a smile and continued prompt service. In fact, I would apologize for my lack of clairvoyance in a way that kept the customer happy. This skill has served me in innumerable ways as an HR person and a writer. You’re in my office complaining about the fact that your boss is angry at you for (drum roll please) not doing your work? I’m not going to blow up at you and scream that you are an idiot, and you know why? Bill and his daily Burger King habit. These skills gained in a restaurant transferred directly to my career in HR.

Another transfer? OSHA regulations. I learned how to comply with government regulations from my very first job, and that has helped me through the paperwork necessary to keep a company in compliance.

Some of the most basic career skills are taught in the restaurant business–showing up on time, working hard, getting along with coworkers who you wouldn’t chose to be friends with, and many other things. All of which, I got at very young age.

Upward mobility was also part of the restaurant world. True, I quit my restaurant job when I left for college, but I came back the following summer. What did I find there? Well, two of the girls I had trained were the new shift managers. The restaurant manager was now managing two restaurants instead of one and a former shift manager was now working at a competitor as a restaurant manager.

I’m glad I got a chance to start out frying things and 20+ years later, I’m pretty sure I could make a whopper with cheese without any instructions, but that’s not the only skill I took with me. Most importantly, I learned how to work.

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Everybody tells you that your employees need feedback, but what they don’t tell you is that doing it wrong can be worse than not doing it at all. Here are 10 things you should never do when you need to tell an employee how he or she is doing.

1. Yell.

No matter what you are actually saying when you are yelling, all your employee hears is that you are angry. Whatever you scream is categorized in an employee’s brain as irrational. This is not helpful.

2. Give feedback in anger.

Your employee really screwed up at the client meeting. Maybe there were typos on the PowerPoint presentation. Maybe she didn’t know the answers to the client’s questions — and she should have. Maybe she was late and frazzled looking. All of these things should be addressed, but don’t do it when you’re furious. Yes, timely feedback is a great idea. Feedback when you’re ready to blow a gasket isn’t. Go take a walk around the block, take a breath, and then give feedback.

To keep reading, click here: 10 Things You Should Never Do When Giving Employee Feedback

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3 Ways to Make Exit Interviews More Effective

by Evil HR Lady on August 17, 2015

Exit interviews are a double-edged sword: Your company desperately wants information from departing employees about how to improve, but employees have little motivation to provide complete, honest reasons for their departure.

You can promise up one side and down the other that you’ll keep individual answers confidential, but the person is unlikely to believe that his former manager won’t find out if he says, “I’m leaving because my manager is a jerk.” Jerk managers are jerks about lots of things — and they don’t take negative feedback well. Your former employees want to keep their good references, so they’re not likely to speak up.

So, if your employees aren’t likely to be entirely honest, should you hold exit interviews at all? The short answer is yes. The long answer is yes, but only if you ask for constructive criticism, understand how to use the information you’re given and focus on trends. Here’s a deeper look at how to ensure your exit interviews are effective.

To keep reading, click here: 3 Ways to Make Exit Interviews More Effective

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4 Ways to Take Responsibility for Your Career

by Evil HR Lady on August 14, 2015

It’s not my fault. How many times did you say that as a child? The question is, are you still saying that?

One of the important things about your career is taking responsibility for your own career. Here’s how:

Don’t wait for things to happen, make them happen. Often times, people wait for coworkers to come to them, for promotions to land in their laps, and for management to offer up new jobs on a platter.

Employees get frustrated when they see coworkers rewarded before they are, even if they’re harder workers. What gives?

To keep reading, click here: 4 Ways to Take Responsibility for Your Career

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