Sunday, January 26, 2014

Diversity in Tea and the Workplace

Diversity in Tea and the Workplace
How does your workforce blend?
Have you ever thought about how diversity in the workplace is a lot like tea?  I have a little tea instruction manual in front of me about how hot to boil the water and how long to immerse the tea bag.  Along with each of those is a type of tea:  Black, White, Green, Herbal, Oolong, etc.  Oh, don’t forget that there’s iced tea.  Some people might make teas from fruits, seeds, or flowers.  You could even make a Long Island Iced Tea if you felt so inclined.  Regardless, a variety of teas can quench your thirst in a variety of ways.  This is the same way that diversity in the workplace will bring you many different ways to solve a problem.

Diversity in Tea and the Workplace

So, let’s get a little more diversity in here with our tea.  You can make a really good tea by using some store bought tea bags.  However, how about if we tear open the tea bags and create our own blend?  You can create a brilliant tea by mixing the right amount of a few different kinds of tea.  It would be individualized and custom.  Now, this tea might not be the perfect drink for everyone, but you can make a blend that is just right for you.  A little of this, a little of that; and voilà, you have something fabulous.

You should consider that in your workforce as well; blending people of different backgrounds.  You may find that employing a wide variety of people will give your business the best chance for economic success.

NOTE:  Of course, you should practice diversity and non-discrimination for legal reasons too.  Unless there is a Bona Fide Occupational Qualification (previously discussed HERE), your company could find itself in trouble if it is discriminating.  

With a diverse workforce, you can look at issues from new perspectives.  How many kinds of diversity are there?  Legally protected classes include:

  •    Race / Color
  •    Creed / Religion
  •    Nationality / Citizenship
  •    Age
  •    Gender
  •    Veteran Status
  •    Disability

There may be other protected classes in your state.  You should consider diversifying beyond these legal classes to include other groups as well.  Classes you may not have thought about:

  •    Unemployment Status
  •    Sexual Preference
  •    Height / Weight
  •    Conservative / Liberal
  •    Tattoos / Piercings

In short, people and tea can both create beautiful blends.  You may want to consider hiring and promoting people of all types.  You never know which employee will have a new way of looking at things; which will allow them to come up with a great new idea to move your business forward.

Be Human... Be a Resource... Be a Resource for Humans.

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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Two Weeks Notice

I remember the first real job I ever quit.  I mean, I had a little newspaper route with "The Levittown Express", but quitting that really doesn't count.  I never had a boss looking over my shoulder, checking the quality of my work.  My output was not someone else’s input.  Also, I was probably 7 years old when I quit that job and I knew less than nothing at that point.

No, the first job I ever quit was my job stocking shelves at Bradlees.

Two Weeks Notice

The year was 1995.  I had joined their team during the summer between 11th and 12th grade.  It was a relatively fun job putting sports gear and action figures up, straightening and fronting the merchandise.  There was even a cute girl that worked the electronics counter that I got to talk to occasionally.  I really liked the job and felt bad when summer was over and I had to quit to go back to school. I probably could've kept working part-time, but I was afraid that it might affect my grades in my Senior Year.  So I quit.

Unfortunately, at this point in my life, nobody had informed me that it was customary to give your employer a two week notice before leaving.  It was a training event for me.  When I spoke to the store manager, I remember how her nostrils flared.  She had assumed that since I didn't give her my notice earlier, that I would be staying on over the fall.  I let her know that it was my last day.  That was when she told me about the two week notice.

The reason I bring this up is as a reminder that sometimes someone is counting on you; others have expectations that they expect you to meet.  If for some reason you cannot do something expected of you, it is usually a good idea to give notice ahead of time.  Do not wait until the last moment, because you might leave someone in a bind.  Try to be respectful and always remember to give an employer two weeks notice so that they can try to find a replacement.

Please feel free to leave a comment.  Tell me about the first job you ever quit.

Be Human... Be a Resource...  Be a Resource for Humans.

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Sunday, January 12, 2014

The Earliest History of Human Resources

It occurs to me that we have never discussed the early history of Human Resources before.  Human
Resources is a resource for humans, but how did it get that way?  Holistically speaking, HR is the person, group, or team within an organization responsible for the management of people at a company.  The HR function has sometimes gone by other names such as Personnel or Industrial Relations.  As the HR function has expanded in larger organizations, it has transformed into departments specializing in areas such as Benefits, Payroll, Sourcing, Recruiting, HRIS Tech, or Public Affairs.  The most basic role filled by someone in HR is usually that of a Generalist.  Let’s talk about where HR came from?

The Earliest History of Human Resources

To see where Human Resources came from, we only need to go back about 100 years.  This is where we will find the seeds of the current HR career practitioner.  There are many great educational resources that you ought to check out to learn all of the details.  However, here’s the short version:

- In the latter part of the 19th century, the Industrial Revolution led to large-scale production with large-scale employment.  As organizations grew, so did abuse of many of the employees under the management styles of the day.  To help battle this, the first trade and labor unions were formed during this period to push for standard working hours and higher pay.  The American Federation of Labor (AFL) was formed during this timeframe under leader Samuel Gompers.  Also, the first major labor regulations were passed by the Government including the Erdman Act which made it illegal to discriminate on employees for union membership.

Early 1900s
- At the dawn of the 20th century, a need for a manager devoted to human resources became clearer.  Urban worker conditions appeared to be declining.  Upton Sinclair’s book “The Jungle” was released in 1906, revealing deleterious worker conditions in the meatpacking industry.  Public awareness was raised.  Some companies took steps to improve relations with their workers.  B.F. Goodrich and National Cash Resister formed the earliest corporate HR departments; tracking records, wages, and grievances for the employees.

- Engineer F.W. Taylor releases his time-motion study “Principles in Scientific Management” in 1911; a historic work about boosting productivity among skilled and unskilled workers.  Henry Ford eventually utilized Taylor’s ideas in using the assembly line to manufacture cars.  In the UK, Seebohm Rowntree releases studies titled “The Land” about increasing productivity in agricultural workforces, and also “How the Labourer Lives” which studied poverty among agricultural workers.  Rowntree also organizes the inaugural meeting of the Welfare Workers Association, the first professional group devoted to Human Resources and employees.  Back in the US, the Department of Labor was formed in 1913 under the Taft administration to “foster, promote and develop the welfare of working people, to improve their working conditions, and to enhance their opportunities for profitable employment.

The changing developments in labor and employment resulting a growing number of companies to devote resources to forming HR departments.  These were professionals that could bridge the gap between management and labor; to help companies work with their employees as valued members of the team.  That is how HR began.

And remember all of you Human Resources professionals:  Be Human... Be a Resource...  Be a Resource for Humans.

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