Rachel Bolsu

Rachel Bolsu

Rachel Bolsu is a Content Marketing Specialist at Namely, the HR, payroll, and benefits platform built for today's employees. Connect with Rachel and the Namely team on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Recent Articles


Should HR Use Social Media in Hiring and Firing Decisions?

The digital world has led to widespread uncertainty about what information is considered private or public. From Facebook’s use of personal information, to the woman who was fired for flipping off the presidential motorcade, what was once considered off-limits information is now having its moment in the public eye.

In the workplace, almost everyone has at some point searched for an interviewee’s Facebook profile or scrolled through a coworker’s Twitter feed, but does this behavior cross the line? If you see something you don’t like, are you allowed to act on it?

What do you think? Should social media influence hiring and firing decisions?



We spoke with our network of HR professionals about how to avoid the risks of snooping, while still leveraging the advantages of online information. Here are six HR tips for navigating the murky waters of social media:


1. Beware of Unintentional Bias

One of the most important considerations in employment decisions is compliance. Whether influenced by information gathered online or in person, it’s crucial to be alert to any bias or discrimination against a protected class. Though searching for a candidate’s social media profiles may seem harmless, it’s easy to unintentionally gain knowledge beyond what you were looking for. “There is a lot of personal information on social media,” cautions Tyler Cartwright, HR Coordinator at Apcera. “If you’re not careful, that information can lead to implicit bias.”

Even if you have good intentions, you might consider waiting to look at someone’s social media until you screen and interview the candidate in person. Vice President of Artemis Partners, Mike Kalajian advises, “When hiring employees, meet them first—then you can look at their online presence. It’s important to get an unbiased first impression, and then if anything comes to your attention down the line, you can always follow up.”


2. Set Manager Guidelines

Even if HR isn’t looking, how can you be sure that the hiring manager or other interviewers won’t take a peek at a candidate’s social media before making a decision? Sara Hetyonk, Manager of Talent Acquisition & Development at ONTRAPORT, advises HR to “Discourage hiring managers from looking up candidates online. Find other ways to evaluate social engagement, such as through an onsite team exercise. That way the decision won’t be influenced by one thing from their social profile.”

You may be well aware of what you can and can’t ask in an interview, but many employees who will be leading interviews might not be. According to Hetyonk, “Training hiring managers is so essential. Especially new managers who don’t know not to ask something, like if the candidate has any children.” With the right training, employees will be more alert to the risks of encountering protected class information on a candidate’s social profile.

In many cases, managers may be friends with their direct reports on a social network. Hetyonk cautions, “If managers and direct reports do become friends, make sure they understand that they may see some things they don’t want to, but unless it directly violates our harassment or privacy policy, they shouldn’t let this influence their opinion or treatment of the employee.”


3. Recognize Social vs. Professional Networks

The term “social media” is far more broad-reaching than just Facebook and Twitter. While these platforms tend to be more private, there are a variety of sites that encourage public personal branding. “I think it’s fair to Google someone’s name,” says Kalajian. “LinkedIn, for example is meant to be your public face forward. Social media can be a really positive tool—there are a lot of people who share projects online, which gives you a good idea of their body of work.”

In the hiring process, you can glean a lot of contextualizing information from a candidate’s online presence. “Typically I’ll search final candidates on relevant platforms like LinkedIn and Github,” says Hetyonk. “How active an individual is can tell you a lot about their qualifications. I always look for engineer’s side passion projects or, if a candidate is applying for a role in IT security, I expect to find little to no online presence.”

The internet can be a great way to store and showcase valuable work, portfolios, and more, so be careful not to discount social media entirely. Just proceed with caution.


4. Separate Personal Interests from Ability to Do the Job

Beyond the legal risks of forming opinions about a candidate based on protected class information, it’s important to facilitate a supportive and accepting culture. “In today’s day and age, people put a lot of stuff out there,” says Kalajian. “Looking at someone’s private accounts is like asking to walk through a candidate’s house to look around. Private is private, public is public, and it ultimately comes down to whether or not they can do the job.”

Using social media to assess cultural fit can also be murky territory, as it invites bias into the decision process. “Social media accounts are personal,” cautions Hetyonk. “We have a close-knit team, but when you friend someone, you become privy to their personal views. We provide bullying and harassment training, and we emphasize the importance of respecting other views, including those shared on social media.”


5. Consider a Formal Policy

Social media gets particularly sticky when it comes to existing employees. As HR, an employee may report a colleague’s online behavior. How much can you do with this information? This is where it is useful to have a policy in place to refer to. “We have a social media policy, which basically tells employees not to engage in conduct that adversely affects coworkers, or act as a spokesperson for the company,” says Cartwright. 

So what should you do if one employee reports another’s activity on social media? Kalajian shares, “If something is brought to my attention that violates a company policy, I’d talk to the employee directly, get a sense of what he or she is feeling, and explain clearly why it goes against our company values.”

Similarly, Hetyonk recommends, “If someone feels they’re being threatened, HR should step in and talk with them. We respect employees’ personal views, but we do ask that employees be mindful of how they could make someone else feel. We want to make sure people feel secure when they come to work.”


Meet Namely: Rachel Giberson

At Namely, our coworkers are one of the top reasons we love what we do. The Meet Namely series spotlights real Namely employees across the company. Read on to learn how our employees are helping us build better workplaces.

Rachel Giberson started her career in the business development field at a recruiting company. It wasn’t long before she realized that she wanted to make a move to the software industry and began pursuing opportunities to progress in her career. In 2016, Rachel joined the Namely team as an Account Executive.

We caught up with Rachel to see how her work in NYC ultimately led her to join the latest branch of Namely in our new Atlanta office.

How did you end up in your role at Namely?

I was looking for new industries to break into, and I came across Namely on LinkedIn. I had heard of other payroll and software companies, but from what I could tell, Namely was all about disrupting the industry, which I had never heard from the other companies. I instantly believed in Namely’s mission and could tell this company was going to be the next big thing.

When I started in NYC in 2016, we had just reached the 300-employee threshold and were growing like crazy. When I found out that we were opening an office in Atlanta, I volunteered immediately to move out there. I had always wanted to move south, and I was thrilled to move out here when the office opened a few months later.

Everyone in the city and on the Atlanta team have been so nice and welcoming. My coworkers who are from the area are always offering to take me to lunch, make recommendations, and really incorporate me into the culture. Even though it’s different from the NYC office, it captures the Namely culture to a T.

What’s your favorite thing about your role?

I love helping HR people make their job easier. Oftentimes the prospects I speak with are frazzled, strapped for time, and working off of a confusing spreadsheet. When they see Namely, they get so excited—it’s life-changing for some of the people I talk to, and it’s amazing to be a part of that experience.

What makes the Atlanta office unique?

Even when I was based in NYC, my sales territory has always been in the southern region of the U.S. I saw immediately that the culture in the south is totally different. People don’t want to just conduct business over the phone—they really want a personal experience. Now that I have a local presence in Atlanta, it’s so much easier to go onsite and meet with potential clients. Everyone is so nice, and they really value that personal touch.

Is there something that would surprise people about your job?

A lot of times potential clients don’t realize how much time it takes to go through a full evaluation. Sometimes the people we talk to are so excited to implement Namely that they’re ready to pull the trigger on their old system right away. However, it takes time to learn about these people and their companies. We want to help them reach their goals for the future, which takes planning and precision.

If you weren’t in this role, what would you be doing?

Realistically, if I weren’t in sales, I would definitely be working in client success—I just love talking to people.

Had I pursued a more outlandish career path, I would have been a news reporter or an actress. I always wanted to be an actress, which is actually how I ended up in sales!

What’s your favorite thing about working at Namely?

The amazing company culture. Namely is so flexible and really respects work-life balance. As long as you’re getting your work done managers are flexible about scheduling and working from home. We also do a lot of team events that strengthen our culture. Celebrating reaching 1,000 clients was such a fun and memorable way to come together as a company.

What’s your favorite office snack?

Definitely the chewy fruities! They’re essentially organic fruit-flavored Starbursts.

What's something your coworkers don't know about you?

I love puzzles of all kinds! I can actually solve a Rubik's Cube in about 2 and a half minutes.

Do you have any advice for someone who wants to do your job?

Don’t give up. I wanted to work in software sales for a long time, and I just kept looking until I found the right company. It takes persistence to be a good salesperson. Even if you’re selling an apple, make sure you believe in it.

What do you like to do outside of work?

I like to craft as a hobby. I made all my own decorations for my wedding, and my latest project has been decorating my new apartment. I’ve done some vinyl wall decorations and am working on a reverse canvas project—painting the frame rather than what goes inside of it.

What was your best day at work?

When I was visiting Atlanta for the very first time, I closed three deals in one day. It was the first time I set foot in that office, and it felt like it was meant to be. It was the end of the year and the pressure was on to close deals, so this was a huge accomplishment that I got to celebrate with my new team!

Who has inspired you to get to this point in your career?

It’s a combination of people. My first boss in my first sales job instilled that “never give up” spirit in me. My mom also taught me to try my hardest. She didn’t go to college and that was always her dream for me and my sister. She inspired me to go after my dreams, and I ended up being the first person in my family to graduate from college.


6 Reasons Nonprofits are a Great Place to Work

Despite the hurdles that come with working in the nonprofit sector, the industry has never failed to attract an energetic and passionate workforce. While resources may be spread thin compared to larger corporations, nonprofit employees are known to put heart and soul into their work.

However, it’s no secret that nonprofits often struggle with hiring and retention. In fact, 81% of nonprofits don’t have any employee retention plan in place. Nonprofit employees are some of the most passionate workers, but there’s still an opportunity for HR to step in and help optimize the nonprofit employee experience.

What better way to support employees than to learn what motivates them? We spoke with six non-profit employees to learn exactly what makes their work so meaningful. Here’s what they had to say:


1. “There’s a ripple effect to the work that we do.”

“GlamourGals organizes and inspires teen volunteers to provide ongoing companionship to women living in senior homes by providing seniors with personal attention and care. Even on my worst day, when I'm flooded with emails and phone calls to return and deadlines to meet, it's so easy to stay motivated when I know that I'm working to empower women. All the hard work truly pays off when I read volunteer journals about the connections they are making with seniors in their community, or learn that they are pursuing careers in medicine, gerontology, or even technology to help slow Alzheimer's symptoms. There's a ripple effect to the work that we do, as a generation of young people become inspired to help make the world a better place.

Working on a small team also gives me a chance to be creative, execute on my big ideas, and be part of our major projects from start to finish, instead of being relegated to one department. This is such a great experience when you're really passionate about your mission and have ideas for all parts of a process.”

- Jessica Wallin, Program Manager, GlamourGals Foundation, Inc.


2. “The entire staff is mission driven.”

“I left my corporate job to work as the Executive Director of Caregiver Volunteers of Central Jersey. We are a nonprofit that assists the elderly, veterans, and people with dementia.

Although the salary and perks I receive have been greatly reduced, the satisfaction I get from knowing that an older person can remain in their own home and be connected with loving volunteers and therapy dogs more than makes up for it. The thing that makes our agency a great place to work is that the entire staff is mission driven. Everyone on the team is doing their best to make this world a kinder place for vulnerable people who are often forgotten.”

- Lynette Whiteman, Executive Director, Caregiver Volunteers of Central Jersey


3. “That someday was today.”

I started fostering nearly 12 year ago, while also pursuing a career as a fashion designer, which always seemed to be slightly out of reach. I began to question if i would ever get there. But then I looked down at the furry face of my little foster dog, and it hit me: today I achieved a goal; I saved a life! That “someday” I always said I'd volunteer (when I had time and money) was today.

The mission to save lives every day inspired me to found Motley Zoo Animal Rescue and for more than seven years I did the work (unpaid). This decision changed the entire course of my life. Since then, the org has grown so much, and I am so proud of what we have achieved. There is nothing like knowing your day really matters, and everything you do makes a difference. That’s what keeps you going when life is hard.

I wish everyone discovers what would make them feel this way too. the answer is often volunteering, but people are so busy doing everything, they often don't make time for what really matters...and doing so could make their lives more fulfilling.

- Jamie Thomas, Executive Director, Motley Zoo Animal Rescue


4. “I am in a position to actually do something.”

I am the senior editor for a nonprofit called Vision Hope, which works among disenfranchised people in war zones and severely deprived areas. The work takes a huge emotional toll; just thinking about the plight of orphans in Yemen who watched their family members die in the war, or Syrian children in trauma-burdened families that fled to Jordan, can be devastating sometimes. But I love that I am in a position to actually do something about these crises. I don't have to just look at news stories and wonder, “Well, what can I do?” I can actually use my skills and experience to help people in these dire situations, and I also help mobilize other people who want to help.

- Jesse Allen, Senior Editor, Vision Hope


5. “Seeing my impact is much more satisfying.”

I left a managerial IT position at a major insurance company, in which I ran a team of 100+ people and commanded company-wide respect, in favor of a position where I work twice as hard, have no clout, and make almost $30,000 less per year.

Taking a $30,000 salary cut to work for a nonprofit? Worth it! I wear many hats in our organization––I do the work of an executive assistant, I've had some accounting work thrown my way, I file government paperwork, and somehow gardening was recently added to my list of duties. Mainly, though, I work out of and manage the Equality House. I like to say that my job description is to enable our founder to follow his heart.

I really debated taking the position because I was afraid of making so much less money and losing all the authority I'd gained, but I don't miss it at all! It's worth it because I'm now helping others (and myself) see the good in the world instead of just the bad. On top of that, I get to provide a way for the best people in the world to create an exceptional future. I work myself ragged every day, and it feels amazing.

Actually seeing my impact on my organization––and, therefore, my impact on the world––is much more satisfying than having to take my supervisor's word for it in a large corporate environment.

- Cat Jones, Program Coordinator, Planting Peace


6. “We give them a voice.”

I used to work in media as a journalist, but I wanted to do more for society. For months, I applied only to nonprofits until I found my current job. Every day, I know I work for an organization who has been fighting for a better and more inclusive world for kids and young adults with disabilities for the last 35 years. Sometimes I am tired, but I still want to go to work every morning. I am constantly thinking about how we can better help families who don't know they have the right to special education and disability services. We give them a voice in a world where many don't listen, and that feeling is amazing.

- Pia Fouilloux, Communications and Outreach Coordinator, INCLUDEnyc


How to Design Better Workplace Posters

In a world consumed by communication, it can be challenging to get a message out that sticks. Emails get lost in inboxes, lengthy descriptions are skimmed, and anything on paper is destined to be damaged or lost altogether. Workplace posters are a tried and true—and often mandatory—means of communicating important information to your workforce, so it’s important that they are eye-catching.

How can you make effective posters that grab the attention of passersby? We chatted with Heather McGinnis, Namely’s Senior Marketing Design Manager to learn best practices for workplace communications. Here are her nine top tips:


1. Identify the Poster’s Purpose

Before you even start designing your poster, you should have a clear understanding of what you want to communicate. You can’t squeeze too much detail onto a poster, so you should be able to summarize its core objective concisely. Once you have a clear purpose defined, it’s time to start crafting your message and design.


2. Create a Focal Point

Whether it’s a headline or a compelling image, your focal point is the first thing your audience will see. Using focal points will help draw people in from afar. Even if it’s a simple headline, you can use elements of design to make your poster stand out from a distance.


3. Design for Importance

Use “hierarchy of type,” or a visual arrangement of information in order of importance, to convey your key points. The most important points should clearly stand out from the rest of the text. Ask yourself, what is the number one piece of information we want people to take away? Is it simply an announcement, a date to remember, or a clear action item? Use the pre-established purpose of the poster to guide you in prioritizing your messaging.


4. Stay on Brand

If your company has provided brand guidelines, use these to shape your poster design. Are you using the right typeface? Are you using the right colors? Aligning the design with the overall company brand also validates it as a legitimate and noteworthy workplace communication.


5. Use Color Intentionally

Color is a great way to direct the viewer’s eye to a certain location on the page. However, be careful not to overuse colors. Try to limit your palette to three colors or less—including the background color of the poster! Make sure there is enough of a contrast between the background color and the color of the text so that the information is easily legible.


6. Only Include Essentials

Realistically, no one will stop to read a bulletin for more than a few seconds. Posters are meant to be snippets of information, so keep it simple. Don’t try to squeeze all of the necessary information into a single page. Highlight the important messages, and follow up with details in a different medium (see tip #8).


7. Placement is Key

Where you hang your poster is an important factor to consider. Identify high traffic areas where employees tend to congregate. On the refrigerator, near the break room, or next to the elevators are all potentially great spots. Alternatively, if you have a bulletin board or poster wall, be aware of how you can set yours apart from the rest.


8. Supplement Digitally

Posters are rarely the best way to communicate all necessary information. While they’re great for grabbing attention, follow up with additional details via email, your website, a company presentation, or another channel that employees can refer to later on (like a resources folder on your HRIS). Make sure the design of the contextualizing information matches that of the poster.


9. Scale It Down

The final test to see if your poster is ready for hanging is to try scaling it down to a mini version (maybe business card or index card sized). This will help you understand if your text is large enough, ensure you have a focal point, and give you a feel for how people will experience it from far away.


Work-(Real)Life Balance

In this HR for Humans story, Chris Bohannon, Director of Presales at Namely, shares how he has achieved real work-life balance. For more stories at the intersection of work and life, follow @namely_hr. You can also submit your stories here.

 This is how a good day starts for me. I wake up at 5 AM, check my email, and wish my team a good morning on Slack. I then work my way downstairs to have a Bulletproof coffee sitting at my kitchen counter, check more email, and scan the headlines from my phone. I head out to the gym (which is always a battle to just go sit in the sauna), complete my workout, and am sitting at my desk by 7 AM.

 I tackle my day by calendar blocks, and whenever I have a free spot I work on a personal objective to add to the culture or the bottom line at Namely. I thank everyone for the great day, spend the evening with my family, and walk my dogs to some relaxing music to wind down. This version of my day happens as much as it can, unless my son Grayson has other plans.

Grayson is on the spectrum, and sometimes his days don’t go as cleanly. He will wake up in the middle of the night with night terrors. Screaming. Either his mother or I will have to crawl back into bed with him, rub his back, and sing him songs until he calms down and goes to sleep. My wife is up at 6 AM to get ready to drive Grayson an hour down the road so he can participate in therapy starting at 7. Grayson waking up is typically easy, considering he’s usually ready to party around 6 AM or so. She gets him downstairs and makes him toast and some Honey Nut Cheerios. We then battle to put shoes on because of sensory issues. From there we have to use some form of jiu jitsu or bribery to get him into the car seat.

Grayson then goes to therapy, kicks absolute butt, and then gets back in the car. He eats his lunch in the car, and is then taken to preschool so that he has the opportunity to be around standard developing kids. Jessica (my wife) then comes home, cleans what she can, and does random chores. She picks him up at 3 o’clock. He then gets to sit with a book or a plant (his favorite!) until dinner time where it’s a small miracle if we get to cook one meal.

Raising kids in general is a wonderful experience, but requires patience because it can be incredibly time consuming. Every parent experiences a lot of the items I outlined, so I wouldn’t want to take anything away from that. In my own examples, there is an extra level of difficulty because Grayson isn’t speaking full sentences yet. We really have to troubleshoot and figure out his basic wants because of his limited communication. Often times we don’t even know if he is sick until he has visible symptoms. We love our child with every ounce of our being so we commit to his success, but as you can imagine it can be overwhelming at times.

I am a career-minded person who wants to grow at Namely. I am also a loving father and husband who is extremely committed to his home life. My family are my favorite people in the world, and I would never want them to feel abandoned because of my career aspirations. Luckily, it’s my own stupidity that gives me any of those fears.

I started to broach the subject of committing time to my son at our company sales kick-off in Las Vegas. We had Carl Eschenbach (who is a Partner at Sequioa Capital) speak and he immediately inspired me. Carl told stories of being inspired by his dad who used to sell Christmas trees and come home with pine needles stuck in his skin. He was above and beyond my favorite guest speaker I have ever heard at an event. He’s an extremely hard working lunch pail guy that totally resonates with me. I always followed the philosophy of asking for advice from someone who has something you want, so I raised my hand during the Q&A.

If you don’t know me you might not know that I don’t need a microphone. I am pretty loud and pretty blunt. Today, my amplified voice was helpful because it was extremely nerve wracking to peel back the layers and ask a question in a public setting.

The question was simple. “How do you balance work and home life?” The response will stick with me forever. He told me, “If you’re a hard worker you can go to leadership, confide in them about the balance you need, and they’ll make it work 100% of the time.” Later in the evening, he came up to me and reiterated, “I promise it’s true. You reach out to your leadership and they will give you balance.”

I report to the VP of Sales, Judson Griffin, on the West Coast. He’s a very focused individual who knows human capital software like the back of his hand. Just in case you ever report to Judson, I can give you some pointers. First, schedule your meetings at the beginning of the month. We’re in sales, so month-end is crunch time, and this is a universal truth for all sales leaders. He will give you both ears and a smile, hear what you’re asking, and help you execute. Second, if you get into the morning routine of calling Judson on his ride into work the call will drop once. Always. At this point the dead zone is no different than a speed bump in a parking lot. It’s going to happen. He did not just hang up on you. Lastly, Judson will absolutely take care of you. He cares about the present and future of all the people that report to him, and will help you maximize your satisfaction not just at Namely but in life.

It’s easy to write that in hindsight. Leading up to the call I was extremely anxious about his reaction as I felt a level of guilt. I wasn’t even asking for specific days off, I was just asking for an afternoon off here and there to share some of the load with my wife. She does amazing work with Grayson but she needs breaks. I gave him a call and explained that I need to assist with appointments and occasional trips down the highway to therapy. Before I could even finish he interrupted me.

“Of course.”

He went on to make sure I knew I was an important part of the team and that he’d make it his priority to make sure I can do what I need to at home.

That was it. Months of build up. I just asked and it was over and it was positive outcome. I get to take Grayson to therapy and work from a Starbucks from time to time. I get to be there at the doctor appointments with my wife. I get to be there. I get to be in the moment. The guy who checks work emails within 30 seconds upon my alarm going off. My wife knows I am being present and my son gets to know me as his Dad. I couldn’t be happier.

It’s pretty simple really. I get to do both because Namely set up a culture that made this possible. I come to work as a contributing member of the team, and they go the extra mile to take care of me. They put as much value on my desire to be a good dad and husband as I do by allowing me the work-life balance to be home when I need to be. I think that’s special and Namely’s emphasis on their values is something I will not take for granted.


HRreads April Book Pick: 'Radical Candor'

If you’re already a member of HRreads or eager to join in, it’s time to dig into our April book pick: Radical Candor by Kim Scott. Former manager at Google and Facebook, Scott is now CEO of Candor, Inc. She has a laundry list of career achievements and cringe-worthy learning moments, both of which she shares openly in her New York Times bestseller. Whether you’re an HR professional, people manager, or CEO, Radical Candor has the recipe to help you be a successful boss.

Scott breaks her book into two parts. “Part I is designed to set your mind at ease,” she writes in her introduction. “Being a good boss is hard for everyone no matter how successful they appear on the outside.” Unafraid to share her mistakes and learnings, Scott makes her tips as achievable as her experiences are relatable. “Part II,” she continues, “is the how-to handbook: a step-by-step approach for building Radically Candid relationships with your direct reports.”

*Spoiler alert* The opening pages of Radical Candor recount a story about an employee she hired who had all the makings of a top performer. However, she quickly realized the quality of work he was producing was very poor. Not wanting to hurt his feelings, she gave him false praise and re-did the work herself. As you can probably predict, his work never improved. When she ultimately had to fire him, his biggest disappointment—and her greatest learning—was that no one had told him, and thus he was deprived of the opportunity to improve in his role.

Starting from this ultimate low point, Scott found that the only way to go was up, and set off on a journey of discovery in pursuit of (you guessed it): Radical Candor. So what is this concept all about? In Scott’s words, “Radical Candor builds trust and opens the door for the kind of communication that helps you achieve the results you’re aiming for.” Or as the cover of the book says, “Be a kick-ass boss without losing your humanity.”


Don’t worry, we haven’t spoiled anything past page 9! We hope this piques your interest enough to convince you to grab a copy and join our HRreads community as we share insights and discuss Radical Candor.


5 HR Learnings from 'The Power of Moments'

March marked the first month of our HRreads book club, and together we read The Power of Moments by coauthors (and brothers) Dan and Chip Heath. Our HRreaders gleaned several valuable takeaways from the book about how to create “defining moments” for employees. We wanted to share the learnings that made the biggest impact—no spoilers, we promise!

Without further ado, here are five things we learned from The Power of Moments:


1. First Impressions Matter

Early on, the Heath brothers described an employee’s first day on the job. The picture was dismal, resulting in the new hire feeling neglected and uncomfortable. "The lack of attention paid to an employee's first day is mind-boggling,” they say. “What a wasted opportunity to not make a new team member feel included and appreciated."

Nearly all of our readers mentioned that this piece of the book really hit home. “Your first day at a new job can be nerve-racking, but also a powerful moment that sets up your attitude for the rest of your time there,” says Michael Chung, Human Resources Manager. “Those are moments we in HR have the ability to influence positively.”

After this realization, Vicki Yang, Senior HR Business Partner, decided to rethink her company’s onboarding process, “I realized how often we forget about people's first days and what a defining moment it can be. We're looking at our onboarding process to make sure new hires feel special on day one. We're thinking of hanging a balloon at the person’s desk with their name, a fun fact, and maybe something like a spirit animal.”


Our onboarding toolkit has all the critical docs you’ll need, so you can focus on making it a great first day for new employees.


2. Defining Moments Stand Apart

The driving message of the book was that peak moments are lasting, and while many happen naturally, there are ways to strategically facilitate defining moments for yourself and those around you. “One of the things that stuck with me was how we can summarize our core life events by the peaks of whatever experience we have, rather than the other neutral moments that may surround it,” says Christian Acosta, HRIS Analyst.

You won’t remember every moment of your life, but it’s important to remember that you don’t have to leave these defining moments to chance. In HR, this comes into play when building out the employee experience. “It was a refreshing reminder that sometimes we need to pause and take time to create moments,” recalls Tiffany Bennett, Director of Operations. “We often get so caught up in the day-to-day, and though we all know that moments can be powerful, we have to set aside time to make these things happen.”

What is it that makes some moments stick out so much more than others? According to Tyler Cartwright, HR Coordinator, “One of the biggest things that surprised me was how much clothing can set apart a moment. When the Heath brothers explained moments like the Trial of Human Nature, or brought up memories of graduation or weddings, they mentioned that these all involved different clothing than everyday attire. This made me realize how simple it is to elevate a moment. Making it feel ‘different’ than any other moment really comes down to presentation.”


3. Peak Moments Transcend Time

Because peak moments stand apart from everyday routine, they don’t lose their impact after they occur. Peaks are the memories you carry with you throughout your life. After reading The Power of Moments, Acosta shares, “I find myself thinking a lot more positively and optimistically about what I can go to bed with at night. I focus on remembering the highlight of my day, rather than drowning in the ideas and functions that took up most of my time.” Creating peak moments can shape your own sense of purpose and facilitate that sense for those you encounter.


4. Purpose Outweighs Passion

The Heath brothers share a surprising finding: “People who were passionate about their jobs—who expressed high levels of excitement about their work—were still poor performers if they lacked a sense of purpose.” This reveals that employees need not only be excited by their work, but also understand its value.

This poses an important question for HR professionals, leaders, and managers around performance management. “I was surprised to learn that an employee can be passionate but if they don’t feel like they’re doing purposeful work, they could perform lowly,” says Chung. “The challenge is HOW to create moments in one’s career that will increase that feeling of purpose.”


5. Readers Want More In-Depth Material

The Power of Moments underscores the importance of creating better experiences and offered tips for getting started. While many readers found the tips in the book inspiring for their own practice, some readers felt that the book could have gone deeper.

According to one reader, “Some parts really resonated with me, but there were pieces that felt a little too fluffy, and it also seemed like the book could have been shorter and gotten the same points across.”

Another reader agreed, “I was kind of let down by this book. I found it to be a watered down version of a Psychology 101 course. On the other hand, had I not gone to school for this subject, I think this book would be great. It's palatable and written in a way that is easy to follow and provides real world examples for the concepts and practices it teaches.”

On the flipside, some readers have already adopted the strategies from the book into their own practices, such as Cartwright. “One engineering team just released a platform that they had been working on for months. To make the moment stand out, we used ideas from the book. In addition to public recognition, the team took a sailboat ride around the San Francisco Bay to highlight their achievement. These aspects of pride, elevation, and connection made this a moment these engineers will never forget.”

We hope you enjoyed the first month of HRreads! This April we dive in to our next book: Radical Candor by Kim Scott. Grab your copy of the book and join us to participate in discussions and share insights.


How the Olive Garden Started My Career in HR

In this HR for Humans story, Chief People Officer, Nick Sanchez reflects on a defining moment in his career. For more stories at the intersection of work and life, follow @namely_hr. You can also submit your stories here.

My first job was at an Italian restaurant down the street from my parents house. I was 15 years old, and on my phone interview, the hiring manager asked, “Can you be here in 30 minutes?” Nobody told me exactly what I’d be doing, but when I arrived it looked like no one had washed any dishes in weeks. I spent six months as dishwasher, then busboy, and eventually host. This was my first taste of career advancement in the hospitality industry.

While attending UCLA, I took a job as a server at the local Olive Garden. I was an econ student and the job provided me income while at school. Unexpectedly, some of my biggest lessons during my undergrad education were in the restaurant. I saw that a dishwasher could be promoted to a cook, and eventually to a kitchen manager making a strong salary each year—plus benefits. This mobility had the potential to change the trajectory of a person’s life, whether through the ability to support their children’s education, or simply to boost their own quality of life.

Working at the Olive Garden while studying helped me realize that an organization and its leaders had an impact on an individual’s growth. When every position is valued in an organization, employees are more equipped to recognize their role of in the success of the company. Inspired by this realization, I shifted my studies to focus in occupational psychology and pursued an internship in HR. When there is rigor around employee development, employees see the opportunity to grow, so providing opportunity for advancement is crucial.

After graduating, I joined the The Cheesecake Factory. My mentors at The Cheesecake Factory helped me to get experience in opening new restaurants, recruiting, onboarding, and operations. The hospitality space is known for its intense working conditions, as a very high-volume and physical job.  New restaurant openings required the hiring and training of 300-400 people in short time frames. Even when hiring in such high volumes, my mentors showed me that these were their experiences, their career, and to treat them as such.

Later in my career, when I was working on the HR team at Host International, I had the opportunity to put those learnings to use. My team went down to Peru to hire over 100 people for seasonal airport work abroad. We quickly filled the positions, speaking with hundreds of candidates all in one day. However, once the positions were filled and evening had arrived, 100 candidates remained who hadn’t been interviewed yet. They asked us for the opportunity to practice interviewing, even though there were no more open roles. With the candidate experience in mind, our team stayed. The applicants had so much fun—and so did we. As a result of these bonus interviews, we opened up another 30 positions. Whether it’s an executive candidate or an entry level job seeker, the candidate experience should always be delightful.

My favorite part of HR is seeing people grow and break through challenges they once thought of as a barrier. For those early in their HR career, I recommend finding great mentors. My mentors were critical contributors in my career. In every organization—from the Olive Garden to the Cheesecake Factory—each and every mentor made a lasting impact on me by simply caring about my career growth. They were courageous leaders who were never afraid to offer me new opportunities, even when I wasn’t sure I could handle them. Thanks to them, I’ve been able to apply these learnings throughout my own practice.

conference tips

10 Expert Tips to Make the Most of HR Conferences

With key Q1 tasks out of the way, from distributing W-2s to celebrating Employee Appreciation Day, what better way to jump into spring than by attending one of the many industry conferences coming up over the next several months? With HR West and HR Redefined 2019 just around the corner, the time is now to start planning your schedule and starring your must-see sessions.

Going to conferences can be costly—between travel, lodging, and the conference ticket itself—so you’ll have to prove the value to get manager buy-in. We think the best way to prove a conference’s worth is to return to the office equipped with new insights, connections, and initiatives.

As you prepare to hit the road, consider these 10 tips from HR professionals on how to get the most out of industry conferences.


1. Make a Plan—but Stay Flexible

“Have a plan of attack for the top sessions you want to attend or things you want to do, but be ready to flex your plans. You might find you need a quick break or that you over-scheduled yourself. If you are in a city you haven't traveled to before, try to hit something outside of the conference (preferably with a new buddy) to see the sights.”

- Jennifer Adams, Director of People Development at Forrest Technical Coatings


2. Do Your Research

“Besides reading the session description, I like to do some research on the speaker. It helps me get more out of the session.”

- Darlene Ono-O'Brien, People Operations Manager at KEMP Technologies


3. Connect with the Organizers

“At HR Redefined last year, getting familiar with the Namely team early was great, as they chatted with you whenever there was a free second, which made me feel more comfortable asking questions about the sessions or things to do in the city.”

- Christian Acosta, HRIS Analyst at FocusVision


4. Set Networking Goals

"Make an effort to meet new people, and find an accountability partner. [That means choosing] someone to share three items you plan to do after the conference. Then, connect 2 or 3 months after the conference for a phone call to talk about the results on those three items."

- Santiago Carrillo, Chief Development Officer at Edu1st


5. Divide and Conquer

"Bring your team! Divide and conquer is the only way to go to avoid FOMO and regrets—you won’t want to miss a great session."

- Colleen Clark, Head of Optimistic People at Life Is Good

6. Be Present

“Map out what you want to accomplish and use your time wisely. Be engaged and present, and make sure that you ask questions. Face-to-face interactions are so important.

- LeShawn Johnson Vega, U.S. Human Resources Manager at IKEA Industry Danville


7. Identify Role Models

“I usually find a few people who have the kind of expertise, knowledge, or chutzpah I find admirable and ensure I keep connected. You never know when you’ll need to lean on someone for advice! This is especially helpful for tricky legal or management questions. It's great to get advice from someone who also had to navigate those waters and made it out on the other side.”

- Asha Mungara, Director of People Operations at b8ta


8. Follow Up with Speakers

“Try to find 1-3 presenters to connect with during the conference so that you can continue to share valuable insights even after the event. Being an audience member is an easy way to start a conversation and grow a relationship.”

- Mai Ton, VP of People at HelloSign


9. Commit to One Initiative

“Pick one thing you learned that you're going to do after you get back to the office and DO IT!!! You're going to want to implement 50 things, but pick the one that's going to give you the most lift.”

- Ken Gardner, Recruiter / HR Generalist at Greater Texas Credit Union


10. Have Your Team Hold You Accountable

"Let's face it: Post-conference enthusiasm gets crushed by returning to day-to-day activities very quickly. Something that has been very effective for me has been to host debrief sessions after I return to the office. I then challenge the team to find ways that we can start rolling out improvements and new initiatives. In short: I try to infect my team with the post-conference enthusiasm bug ASAP!"

- Jovanny Chonillo, People Manager at LabelMaster

growing comp

8 Things HR Needs to Know in a Growing Company

High growth impacts a business on many fronts. For HR, a growing workforce means new considerations pop up every day, from compliance to company culture. Last week, as part of our local event series, Namely compliance gurus Andy Przystanski and Manuel Martinez-Herrera joined forces with Senior HR Manager at Outdoor Voices, Laxmi Shetty for a candid conversation in Austin, Texas.

They shared the most important considerations for HR leaders of fast-growing companies. Here are their eight top tips:


1. Compliance is Cumulative

As you grow, compliance has a sort of snowball effect. With each additional employee, you’re likely subject to a new set of regulations. Compliance also has three distinct (and often contradictory) layers to be aware of—federal, state, and local. In addition to the overarching federal laws, different cities and localities likely have their own unique set of compliance requirements to take into account. Work closely with a local lawyer and follow online newsletters to stay alert to the latest compliance updates.


2. Discrimination Laws Take Effect Earlier Than You May Think

15 is the magic number for discrimination. When you hire your 15th employee, Title VII kicks in, which protects employees from discrimination based on sex, race, national origin, religion, disability, and even genetic information. In other words, once you have 15 employees, an organization cannot retaliate against an individual who files a discrimination complaint. In some jurisdictions, this law comes into effect at less than 15 employees, so be sure to check your local requirements.


3. Get Ready for Benefits

At 50 employees, it’s time to offer insurance to employees. In the wake of many legal obstacles, the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate was ultimately repealed, but the employer mandate remains in effect. This means that once you hire your 50th full time employee, you’ll need to offer a benefits package. Keep in mind that under the ACA, “full time” is defined as working at least 30 hours a week, or 130 a month. You’ll be required to report proof of employee coverage to the IRS.

At 50 employees, you’re also required to offer 12 weeks of unpaid job-protected leave in accordance with the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).This legislation protects employees in the event of a family medical event, such as a birth, adoption, or medical emergency.


4. Don’t Miss Reporting Deadlines

Every milestone comes with its own paperwork, and once you hit 100 employees, it’s time to report on company demographics. This requires private companies to fill out an Employer Information Report (EEO-1) each year. This report is due on March 31, so don’t let it sneak up on you as you scale.


5. Spend Time Building Processes

Laxmi helped grow her company from 80 employees to 153 in one year. Even though Outdoor Voices almost doubled in size, she remains a one-person HR team, handling the full scope of responsibilities. Within her first month on the job, it was already time for ACA reporting. The process of finding, organizing, and submitting the information was nothing short of a challenge. After working closely with her vendors, she established a process that turned this annual reporting cycle into the easiest process possible. Go the extra mile to do a thorough job the first time, because it will make it a whole lot easier the next time around.


6. Empower Managers

Working closely with managers can help ease the burden on HR as your workforce grows. “I lead a lot of feedback trainings,” says Laxmi, “and also provide tools like a 30/60/90 deck for managers to try and fill out on their own. After they take the first stab, we go over it together.” Equipping managers to do much of the onboarding and coaching work themselves helps them become true partners to HR and stronger leaders.


7. Lean on Your Network

Small and one-person HR teams need a network of peers to bounce ideas off of and gut check your initiatives. “Maximize networks, and don’t be afraid to ask questions,” recommends Laxmi. “There is always someone who is thinking about or has dealt with the same thing as you.”


8. Scale Your Culture

Beyond compliance, maintaining your company culture is important to employee engagement and retention. As an activewear brand, Outdoor Voices’ culture is all about going out and doing things. “As we expanded to seven retail locations across four states and a corporate office, we aspire to practice what we preach throughout our entire organization,” says Laxmi. These values ensure that their growing company stays unified around a central culture.

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