A Simple Solution to Your Complex IT Problems

by Evil HR Lady on December 10, 2014

You have a project that needs doing, but it’s not simple and no one on your staff has the skills. It’s only one project, though, so you don’t want to hire someone full time, have them leave their current job and then be jobless after six or twelve months. It’s unfair to them. (And if you mislead them about the nature of the job, you could violate the law.)

Temps as a solution. John Mahony, COO of Kavaliro, says that temps can be a tremendous help to your company. These aren’t the temps of yesterday that you hired to type some things or get you caught up on your filing. These are high level IT (and other) professionals, who can come in and do a serious level of technical work for your company.

To keep reading, click here: A Simple Solution to Your Complex IT Problems


What’s the best way to lower pay?

by Evil HR Lady on December 9, 2014

My employer has asked me to create an incentive program that includes pay decreases for failure to meet the standard and bonuses for exceeding it. I need some supporting information because the Salaried employees will not be happy with a salary decrease. Where should I look?

I have no clue and your Googe skills are as good as mine. But, let’s chat a bit about what’s going on. Is your boss openly hostile towards employees on a regular basis or is he currently really ticked off at someone?

I ask because beating your employees with salary reducing sticks isn’t the way you increase performance. It’s the way you get people who are bitter and angry and even if they are performing at a high level, they start looking for new jobs. And, to be clear, the people who leave first will be the highest performers, even though you’ve given them a bonus. Why on earth would you want to stick around in a place where your base salary could be cut?

Now, I’m not some big softy. I’m not opposed to firing poor performers. But, I am opposed to pay cuts. I realize that seems a bit contradictory, as losing your  job is a heck of a lot worse than taking a 5 percent pay cut. After all, 95 percent of a salary is better than 0 percent. But, people don’t generally fire for a bad quarter, or  one messed up project. They tend to save firing for egregious cases and only after working carefully with the employee to attempt to bring that person up to speed. (To be clear, almost all jobs in the United States are “at-will,” which means you can fire someone for any random reason other than those prohibited by law, but most people don’t.) Most companies use 60 or 90 day performance improvement plans.

I suspect that performance in this case isn’t severe enough for firing, which is why the desire to lower salary. It sounds a bit noble, but it’s not. People will take it very hard. They will not like it. So, here’s what you do instead:

  • Set your base pay for what you’re willing to pay the low performers
  • Give bonuses based on performance. Higher performance equals a higher bonus. Lower performance equals a lower bonus.
  • Current employees  maintain their current salary.
  • Decide what level of performance should result in termination

Clear? The criteria need to be straight forward, easily measurable, and religiously tracked. Giving an employee a chance to do better is far more likely to result in higher performance than punishing the employee for doing poorly.If you want the business to succeed, you need employees that are willing to work hard. Ones that are unsure of what their salary will be tomorrow will not work.

If you do go with this plan, make sure the lowered salary is listed in the offer letter, so that new hires understand from the beginning that their bosses aren’t interested in fostering success.


Office Holiday Parties Your Employees Want to Attend

by Evil HR Lady on December 9, 2014

Some holiday office parties are awesome, and others are nightmares. Last year weasked about gifts, and this year we went out and asked real people to share whatholiday parties they still rave about. Keep in mind that these answers come from real humans and not from companies that are trying to market their products, so it might not be what you’ve read in the past. Additionally, some may seem contradictory because every office is different. Know your own office and Happy Holidays!

Additionally, some may seem contradictory because every office is different. Budgets and rules also vary, so there are definitely some things that won’t work for your office below, but also some that will. Know your own office and Happy Holidays!

At one of my husband’s parties, there was a chance to pose, a la prom, for a professional picture, and then receive a free print. A great idea for us, because we don’t go out in our finest very often, and have portraits done almost never.

To read about the great parties (some from you!), click here: Office Holiday Parties Your Employes Want to Attend


Cyber Monday has come and gone, but the shopping from the office continues, and you want your biggest offenders to stop wasting time and get back to work. As asmall-business owner or manager, time is critical and resources are scarce. You could start monitoring everyone’s computer usage or have a daily report sent to you, noting which websites were visited, or you could do this one simple thing to catch and stop your worst time wasters. Ready?

Log out of Amazon and get back to work. Then go tell your senior leadership team to stay away from Etsy. Yep. The person in your office who is most likely spending the most time cybershopping is the boss, along with other senior team members. ACareerBuilder survey found that senior-level employees are more than 7 percent more likely to do internet shopping at work, compared to entry and professional level employees. Some 53 percent of senior employees say they’ll shop at work, compared to only 46 percent of lower-level employees.

To keep reading, click here: Why Bosses Who Internet Shop Shouldn’t Throw Stones

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Is a dumb joke sexual harassment?

by Evil HR Lady on December 8, 2014

I have been a contractor at a bio pharmacy company for six years. Due to a reorganization, I am no longer qualified to do the job that I have performed since 2008.

I want to know how to address two inappropriate sexual comments made.

My director, a male, shared a joke during an offsite holiday lunch. The joke was…what did the Pirate say when the wheel fell in his pants? “You are driving me NUTS.” It is appropriate for the director (male) to make reference to testicles as ‘Nuts’ during our lunch? There were four ladies from the department, including my immediate supervisor, a woman, who is a Sr. Manager. The Sr. Manager (a woman) laughed and said, “Niccee!” I think this is completely inappropriate.

Also, the Executive Director fixed the copy machine that had caused a co-worker some anxiety. When she went to the copy machine again, the Executive Director had fixed the printer and asked the female co-worker, “Who is your Daddy?” That comment is out of place and creepy. Is this a question of dominance or sexuality?

What should I do with these inappropriate comments? Should I report them to the employment agency, which is my employer? What will be the consequences to telling those sexual comments to the agency? Am I kissing my past six years of references good-bye? Will I be ‘blackballed’ and cannot find employment?

What’s your goal in telling the agency? If it’s to get your job back, it won’t happen. You were a contractor in the first place and in the second, you’re not qualified to do the job anymore. If it is to get your former manager in trouble, that’s not likely to happen either. The contract the agency has with the company is more valuable to them then your relationship is, so they aren’t going to hand slap (they don’t have the power) or refuse to do business with this guy again. So, what do you hope to accomplish?

While you’re thinking about that, let’s talk about sexual harassment. In order for someone to be considered sexually harassing you, or for a workplace to be considered “hostile” it has to be pervasive and you have to be offended. I’m pretty prudish and easily offended and I snorted at the pirate joke and told it to my husband. His verdict? That’s a stupid joke. It is. It’s a stupid joke. The “who’s your daddy?” comment is just dumb. If it was part of a constant stream of questionable sayings, it would be problematic, but in isolation and even with the “you’re driving me nuts!” joke, it hardly rises to harassment or a hostile workplace.

So, let it go. I suspect that if you hadn’t been terminated, you probably wouldn’t be thinking much about these incidents. But since you were terminated, you’re annoyed and jobless and you have time to dwell on these topics. And you are annoyed because the joke really isn’t appropriate for an office, and maybe the guy is a jerk after all and, well, somebody should get in trouble!

With sexual harassment claims, you have to give the company an opportunity to fix the issue, which means you really can’t raise it after you’re gone.

Let’s talk about how to handle this in the future. When someone tells an inappropriate joke, speak up in the moment, “That’s a little off color, don’t you think?” or if it’s a touchy political situation, say something privately as soon as possible. “Bill, I would really appreciate it if you don’t make jokes like the one you made today. I found it offensive. Thanks!” This gives the person the opportunity to change their behavior. If the behavior persists, then bring it up with HR. Although, I wouldn’t advise bringing either of these situations to HR unless they are part of a larger context of discrimination or harassment. They both can be supportive evidence of bad behavior, but in isolation neither is bad on its own.

The biggest thing for you to do, though, is throw your efforts into looking for a new job. That is what will make this all better. And, you certainly don’t want to have anyone have negative feelings about you for complaining about this.

Now, if this hadn’t been a joke but a “If you sleep with me, I won’t lay you off,” from the executive director, I’d tell you to report that, ASAP, and let the reference consequences be darned But, not worth the risk over a joke or two.


Sick of Sitting Around?

by Evil HR Lady on December 5, 2014

I know sitting all day is bad for me, even if I’m getting exercise, so I’d like to try a standing desk. Some of my coworkers would, too. How do I approach my boss about potentially making a change to the way his employees do their work? I have the same question for getting new chairs. I know they’re expensive, but many of us are uncomfortable. How can I convince him that it’s a good idea to spend the money?

To read the answer, click here: Sick of Sitting Around


More than half of employees don’t feel respected

by Evil HR Lady on December 5, 2014

When your boss “informs” you on Friday that he expects you to come in on Saturday to do a project he just assigned you five minutes ago, you feel like he doesn’t respect you. When you work hard on a presentation, and then your boss announces that she’ll present it to senior management — with her name on it — you feel like she doesn’t respect you. When you hear all year about how valued you are, and how great you are and then get a one percent raise and a “meets expectations” performance review, you feel that your boss doesn’t respect you. It’s an extremely common thread in the workplace.

And, in fact, a recent Harvard Business Review survey found that 54 percent reported that their bosses don’t respect them. The survey looked at people across a wide range of industries and at a variety of levels, which means this problem isn’t unique to one industry.

To keep reading, click here: More than half of employees don’t feel respected


When HR is Incompetent

by Evil HR Lady on December 4, 2014

Dear Evil HR Lady, 

I want to preface this by saying how much I love my job and [most of] my coworkers. However, our HR woman is heinously incompetent. She doesn’t know the answer to any of our questions and spends hours doing things manually that computers can do in minutes. She scoffs at any advice and scolds people who do tasks for her in ways that are not approved by her (even if more efficient).

Talking to her is so awkward, she usually just stares at you until you walk away because she can’t provide a clear answer. She’s also not ethical or trustworthy. One employee asked about including her partner (both female) on the insurance; the HR lady said no and compared it to putting her son on the insurance. She’s just a “sweet old lady” who’s horribly outdated and refuses to learn.

However, she’s worked here for something like 20 years and the bosses adore her and have no idea anyone feels this way. No one has ever come forward about it and I’ve only worked here for a couple of months so don’t feel it’s appropriate to go to the principal (design firm) or make waves about this but she needs to go.

PS: I also really want to find out if our insurance covers emotional support, but am not comfortable asking her (plus she probably wouldn’t know). Do you know ways around this?

Fortunately, your last question is the easiest to answer. Call the insurance company and ask them. HR isn’t actually expected to know everything insurance covers off the top of their heads. I mean, no one can know all the ins and outs. So, call the customer service number on your health insurance card and ask them. They’ll know.

Now that that is taken care of, all problems are solved! Ha,  ha, ha! Okay, she’s still a sweet old lady that the bosses love and refuses to learn. A couple questions:

1. How do you know the bosses love her? I mean, they haven’t fired her, but not firing her is not the same as loving her. And even if they do love her, loving her as a person is far different from loving her work. They may be merely tolerating her.

2. Your coworker who inquired about health coverage for her partner, what did she do next? Now, I don’t have any idea if your company covers health insurance for domestic partners, but it’s possible that they don’t, and the HR lady just wasn’t very good at explaining why it wasn’t covered. Even if it wasn’t done with the greatest of tact, if the correct information was conveyed (“domestic partners are not covered, just as my 35 year old son is not covered, even though he lives with me”) then it’s of  no consequence. Contrary to popular opinion, HR doesn’t actually determine who will be covered by the company’s health insurance. They work on the negotiation with the insurance company, but final decisions for something like that are made at the highest level, and in a small company that means the CEO. Additionally, state and local laws vary, and all insurance plans must comply with the local as well as federal laws. You should have just gone through open enrollment and there would have been the option to add a partner if that was allowable.

3. Does it matter how she does things? I mean, it’s totally annoying. But, every job I’ve ever had began with me coming in and automating tasks. Whoever had the jobs I had before, never did them in the most efficient manner, ever. This is not uncommon. We think, “Oh, it will take so long to automate that, I better just do the task like I’ve always done it.” And some people are scared of technology. I remember a “discussion” I had with a senior HR person. She wanted a report emailed to her every week so that she could always have up to date info. Well, we’d just implemented a system that allowed people to run their own reports. I tried to explain this to her, and she just kept repeating, “But I always get this report in my email!” I offered to set it up for her so that there was an icon on her desktop and she could click it at any time and it would give her the latest, greatest, information. But, no. “I always get this report in my email!” Like the world would end if she had to click on a button instead of open an email.

But, in the end, we just kept emailing her the report because that level of dumb is hard to fight. And it wasn’t a huge pain for my team to do so, just stupid. So, is her refusal to get up to date with technology really important? Does it affect your daily life, or is it a mere annoyance? If it’s affecting your daily life and you’ve volunteered to fix it and she hasn’t accepted, then it’s a problem. Otherwise, let it go.

4. Why  has no one said anything to senior management? You haven’t, your co-worker hasn’t. Why not? Why not mention it–if it’s an actual real problem. “Hey, Jane, I have a question for you. Heidi in HR is insisting that we do calculations in Word and add them up with a handheld calculator rather than doing spreadsheets in Excel. Is it possible to talk to her?” or “Hey, Jane, Heidi in HR is insisting that same-sex partners aren’t covered. But the open enrollment form referenced domestic partners. Can you clarify for me?” (Note, you shouldn’t ask this, your co-worker who wants this should ask.) You said you don’t feel comfortable asking these things. Is it possible that it’s because you know the things you’re complaining about aren’t big deals? Is it possible that she actually does a good job at 90 percent of the stuff she’s supposed to do? How do you know she’s not ethical or trustworthy? If you have some serious examples, then you are ethically obligated to bring them to the boss’s attention. If you don’t then you’re right to keep your mouth shut.

Generally, you should only complain about things that directly affect your ability to do your job. It doesn’t sound like this is the case here. Plus, you’re new. Unless there are some serious ethical or legal violations (in which case you should speak up yesterday), wait and see how things pan out. If you  have a job where you like all your co-workers except for one, that’s a huge win. Most people don’t need daily interaction with HR, so this may not be as big of a deal as you think it is.


Businesses often collect donations at this time of year for the less fortunate. But what if the less fortunate you are asking your employees to support are other employees? “Making Change at Walmart” — a coalition of workers, faith-based organizations and other groups linked with the United Food and Commercial Workers — says some Walmart stores are asking employees to donate to needy co-workers. They state on their Facebook page:

Despite a massive backlash last year when news broke that Walmart was holding an in-store canned food drive asking workers to donate to one another to keep from going hungry, Walmart hasn’t changed its ways. An Oklahoma Walmart is running another food drive this year!

Rather than agree to pay a decent wage or provide full-time hours, Walmart and its owners (the Waltons) continue to earn massive profits while too many of the workers who make the company a success go hungry.

To keep reading, click here: Should companies ask workers to donate to their fellow employees?


Was I passively rejected?

by Evil HR Lady on December 3, 2014

I recently had a first phone interview and I thought things went well providing honest and through answers to questions asked but it was the end of the phone conversation that has me puzzled. The interviewer wanted me to “dwell on the conversation we had” and if I wanted to continue the process for me to email her to schedule a time to come in and sit with the team to see what they do and for me to show what I can do. Now, I started to think about it and a thought sunk in, was this a passive rejection of my interview?

For me, if there was excitement/interest in my candidacy, normally I would think that they would immediately like to schedule me to come in for a test or 2nd review but with this approach, I was not sure if it was a passive way to weed me out of the running.

I would like to know your perspective as your insight is a refreshing view.

The “dwell on the conversation we had” line makes me think that someone went to some sort of self-actualization for recruiters training. “Now, take a deep breath and ponder upon the things the candidate said. How did his responses bond with your soul?” I imagine soft lights and yoga pants.

But, besides the cheesy nature of it, I actually think it’s a pretty good thing. Remember, recruiting isn’t just about them finding a warm body to fill the position. It’s about finding someone who wants to be in that role. Asking you to think about it, is saying, “We want this to be a good fit for all of us, so if you think this won’t work for you, drop out now. Otherwise, we’re impressed enough to continue.”

I love that they want you to come in and sit with the team and show a bit of what you can do. Now, if this morphs into a “give us work for free” then they stink. But if it really is “come and see what we do and let us see what you can do” I think it’s a great idea.

So, no, I don’t think you’ve been rejected. I think the recruiter might be a bit nutty, but I think you should go in and see.

Good luck!

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