The Week in HR: Baton Rouge Edition

bootsSo what’s happening? What have y’all been talking about in HR & Recruiting over the past week? I’m sure I missed a blog post or two about “When Candidates Act Like Ryan Lochte.” There were, no doubt, numerous posts I didn’t read about the Randstad/Monster deal. I bet there was countless content churned out about employer branding, employee engagement, personal branding, and analytics that never made it to my radar screen. Oh…and for the serious side of HR I’m sure there was loads of stuff about the looming FLSA deadline and chatter about ACA and open enrollment season that I’ll just have to catch up on some other time.

You’ll have to forgive me and the other HR professionals, talent leaders and recruiters of the greater Baton Rouge area; we’ve been just a bit pre-occupied for the last 11 days.

We’ve not had much time for talk because we’ve been caught up doing HR – in all its difficult, messy, imperfect, unloved, “make fun of it all you want” glory.

My peers (and I know this because many of us have been messaging and calling each other throughout the week) have been:

  • Making decisions with executive teams and owners about when to close/re-open
  • Reaching out to tens of thousands of missing or displaced employees
  • Determining how to provide pay and immediate access to funds for employees
  • Connecting employees and their family members to EAPs, insurance carriers, FEMA and Disaster food stamp programs
  • Setting up disaster relief funds
  • Mobilizing 401(k) providers for an influx of hardship distribution requests
  • Organizing food, clothing and cleaning supply distributions
  • Arranging temporary housing for employees
  • Buying gas, clothes, toiletries and food for employees
  • Coordinating carpools and transportation shuttles for employees who lost their vehicles
  • Volunteering at shelters, meal distribution centers, and animal rescue sites
  • Gutting and cleaning houses – for self, friends, family, neighbors and complete strangers
  • Crying
  • Holding hands
  • Hugging

Do we have issues? You bet. But I’ve never been prouder to live in Louisiana. I see the strength and resilience of the human spirit as everyone, from all walks of life, is playing a part in recovery. Together and united.

We got this.

#unBRoken #LouisianaStrong

Anecdotes, Stereotypes, and Hiring Cojones

cojonesLast week I had the pleasure of participating as a “mock interviewer” (Lord….how many times have I done this in my HR career?) for a batch of fresh-faced interns in the Baton Rouge Area Chamber’s InternBR program.

The goals of the program are, through a series of workshops and training sessions, to enable participants to (1) develop professional communication and leadership skills, and (2) engage in the Baton Rouge community through service and social events.

Let me tell you…this was week seven of the eight week program and these kids (yup…they’re kids to me) were first-rate!

During the course of several hours (we had lunch! and social time!) each intern went through a very brief “mock” interview with a local business or HR leader. We, the interviewers, received resumes earlier in the week and had the chance to run the process however we saw fit for the 3 interns we were assigned. They were expected to give feedback to each other as well so all four of us (my 3 interns and me) sat in a room together and dove into the artificial chaos and madness of the job interview,

In my room I ran a panel –peppering each of the interns with questions in turn. (I thought it was fantastic of course – I was like the host of my very own HR game show!). While I switched up some queries, one question I asked of all three candidates was “Describe your ideal job?” I like that question; in my estimation it helps me understand motivational factors and provides a jump off stage that leads to a conversation about organizational expectations and culture.

All three of them – a Mass Communication/PR student, an Accountant (B.S. in Accounting and an MBA), and a Computer Science student (software developer) – said pretty much the same thing (and I’m paraphrasing here):

“My ideal job is flexible so I can spend time with my family. I want a job that provides me the opportunity to work from home. I want to work for an organization where I am respected and valued.” 


Anything wrong with that answer? I didn’t think so. I quite liked it.

But, as I told the group, while “I” like it (and explained to them why I ask it – as pointed out above) not every hiring manager or recruiter they meet with will view their response positively.

Total crap of course…but also the reality.

An answer such as theirs is what keeps middle-aged folks clutching their pearls and bemoaning the state of the current workforce. It’s this sort of answer that causes endless debate amongst the dinosaurs on the HR Talk Bulletin Boards and at my local SHRM meetings as they kvetch and moan – “these kid’s today don’t understand about paying their dues” and “it’s not all about them.”

As sick as we are talking about generational differences (KMN) it never seems to end; we had a heated discussion about this at #truNOLA the other week. (REALLY HEATED!) And just yesterday I attended an event discussing talent and recruiting in the Baton Rouge community and a roomful of recruiters and talent leaders tossed about clichés and generalizations about you-know-which-generation left, right and center.

So yeah…this is an anecdotal tale based on my sitting down with three individuals. Nary a statistic in sight. But anecdotes lead to stereotypes, don’t they?

Guess what though? Once upon a time when I was a single mother with a young daughter I wanted the same thing as these graduates in 2016. I, quite frankly, needed the same thing. I had to find a job that allowed me to leave by 5:15 PM so I could get to the day care center before it closed at 6 PM. I needed a job that provided flexibility on snow days. I needed the opportunity to work from home when my daughter was sick because I had no other resources or options. Also note – we worked from home in those pre-PC days; I took stacks and stacks of paper home to compile reports or sort through resumes and call candidates, via my landline-home-phone, in order to conduct phone screens or schedule interviews.

I wanted meaning and a higher purpose as I grew my HR career; I chose to work for a non-profit agency (with incredibly low pay) because not only did I believe in the mission but it also provided a warm and nurturing work environment.

I’m far from being a fresh-faced grad but I’ve searched for all of those things… and I bet you have too.

We just didn’t have the courage to ask for them.

The #HROlympics

synchro swimWhile the Olympic athletes are deciding whether or not to stay in the Olympic Village or head on out and book a room at the local Hilton, the rest of us are just sitting here waiting for the opening ceremonies to kick off next week.

Those of us in HR though, in between having super-important-strategic meetings where we literally sit at the table and/or are running around prepping for open enrollment (sweet baby Moses…. already? didn’t we just do this?), still need a bit of fun. I mean, something other than the monthly SHRM chapter luncheon meetings at The Central City Convention Center (oh my god Tara! They’re serving the hot buttered rolls! And the special Green Goddess dressing!!) Am I right? Yeah; you know I am.

So, because I desired a bit of levity, I posed a query on Facebook the other day and asked folks to “name some featured sports in the ‪#‎HROlympics.”

I went first and offered up what I thought was a sure fire winner —- “Forced Hoop Jumping.”

But then we got more ideas; way better than mine. Let me present to you the following #HROlympics sports for your consideration:

  • Passing the buck
  • Running a 401(k)
  • Lying (** ouch**)
  • Discussing Psychometric Assessments
  • 4 judges with numbered cards for annual appraisals
  • The hamster wheel
  • Bending over (** double ouch**) (also – not in that way. Get your minds outta the gutter.) 
  • Lawyer wrangling (this from an employment attorney) 
  • Back peddling
  • Excuse wrestling
  • Synchronized employer branding
  • Extreme cat herding
  • Ass kissing – closest to the center ring wins (wait…isn’t that the #MarketingOlympics?) 
  • Disgruntled employee steeplechase
  • The OFCCP luge
  • OneUpsManship
  • SHRM swag powerlifting (with reference to Coach bags and Michael Kors)
  • The Marathon – (just another day in the life of HR)
  • Biathalon: Failed teambuilding exercise and synchronized bitching
  • The outside counsel waffle
  • Insurance decathlon
  • Picking low hanging fruit
  • Stamina & endurance test: proving you have at least one more f*ck to give

My goodness. We’re a cynical bunch.

Or…perhaps…incredibly self aware.




thanks to: Matthew Stollack, Christine Assaf, Stephen O’Donnell, Julie Sholar, Heather Kinzie, Kate Bischoff, Franny Oxford, John Jorgenson, Damona Barnes, Mike Haberman, Martin Burns, Mary Faulkner, Lois Melbourne, Tim Baker, Mary McClure Wright, Brad Galin, Kelly Blokdijk, Christy Chess, Paul Miller (and more….) 

p.s. since, as we know, NO idea in HR blogging is original, let me point out that back in 2012 my friend Tim Sackett wrote a post about the “The HR Olympics”. I, however, think our 2016 list is better…..