‘New year, new you’…

Posted by on Jan 18, 2022 in Best Practices, Blog, Compliance, HR Consulting, Human Resources consulting | Comments Off on ‘New year, new you’…

‘New year, new you’…

For the past several years we’ve provided a list of things you can do each year to enhance your HR function.  These tips can help with your planning and ensure that by the end of the year you’ve made some meaningful enhancements to your HR processes and continue to build and refine your overall people strategy.

First, make sure your required postings are updated.  There are certain federal and state postings that must be displayed so that your employees can see them. They cover minimum wage, Family and Medical Leave Act, Equal Employment Opportunity, and others. Your state may also have separate required postings…in Ohio we have to post coverage with workers’ compensation and the state minimum wage.  Your municipality may have additional postings as well. If your employees are remote, you can place these in a share drive or append them to your employee handbook.

Second, review and update your employee handbook. We’ve talked about this before…a current employee handbook helps your managers manage and helps your employees know what’s expected of them.  We know it seems like a chore to do this, but it can be one of the most useful tools for managing.  You don’t have to agonize over perfect wording…you can always revise it as needed. If something doesn’t work…change it…but make sure you let employees know so that they aren’t caught off guard.

Third, audit your HR processes. You may not get to this in Q1 because of all of your other priorities, but make sure you get it into the queue for this year.  Are there better ways of doing things?  What gaps do you have?  Performing an audit of your HR department can help you spot ways to improve efficiency and effectiveness, and free up time to provide your customers with new or better services.  It can help you get in front of compliance issues as well.

Fourth, update your job descriptions.  JDs may seem like a minor part of your overall HR strategy, but they are in fact an important foundation for many of your HR activities. Current job descriptions help with:

  • Recruiting. Current JDs can be modified into job postings that tell candidates what the job duties are, and what qualifications are needed. Don’t just copy and paste the JD into the posting; most JDs have too much job-level detail for a job posting and not enough about your organization and the value proposition you have for candidates.
  • Compensation benchmarking. Accurate job descriptions are necessary for compensation benchmarking. The job title itself isn’t sufficient…clearly stating all of the job duties, qualifications, and experience necessary are required to make determinations about appropriate pay.
  • Overtime exemption testing. The nature of most jobs is such that employees performing this work are eligible for overtime which means that if an employee works more than 40 hours in a workweek, they are eligible to receive overtime at a rate of one and one-half times their normal hourly rate [this varies by state and sometimes locally…check your state or local regulations]. To determine of the job is exempt from overtime, you need up-to-date job descriptions to ascertain if a job meets the requirements of the various exemptions tests. Remember, it is not a management prerogative to simply decide a job is exempt for the sake of convenience or cost…the job must meet the requirements of the tests. Job title alone is not sufficient either.
  • Developing appropriate training and development activities. The most efficient way to train and develop employees is to find ways to leverage your resources to get the biggest return-on-investment. Training for jobs with similar duties or requirements can be developed that allows many employees to learn with the investment in time you make. It also ensures that you are providing to your supervisors the specific training they need to be effective leaders since supervisory responsibilities are so distinct from staff roles.

Having led HR departments in the past, we know how busy the beginning of the year is with winding down annual enrollment, managing performance appraisals, and getting ready for merit increases.  Spending some time on these other matters in the first quarter will help you prepare for a good year managing your HR function.

Do you need assistance with your workforce strategy or other Human Resources consulting needs? Contact us and check out our updates for more helpful resources.

Salary budget increases approaching 5.0% for 2022

Posted by on Jan 11, 2022 in Best Practices, Blog, Compensation Consulting, HR Consulting, Human Resources consulting | Comments Off on Salary budget increases approaching 5.0% for 2022

Salary budget increases approaching 5.0% for 2022

Back in September 2021 we shared that HR/Compensation professionals were expecting a 3.30% increase to salary budgets for 2022. This information was based on the WorldatWork.org salary increase survey published in August 2021.

A recent poll conducted by WorldatWork.org between December 14, 2021 and January 3, 2022 confirms that organizations have evaluated the environment and are increasing their previously planned salary budgets to address the competitive labor market and inflation. But this increased spending is still falling short of what the majority of responding compensation professionals say they feel is needed to stay competitive in the talent wars.

The poll, which had more than 200 compensation professional respondents, reported an average salary budget increase of 4.0% average and 5.0% median. Still, that’s about 1 percentage point shy of increases [5.0% average and 6.0% median] they say is necessary to maintain/attract needed talent.

Clearly the cost of labor is increasing. Retaining top talent needs to be a priority in 2022. Your employees have options, and many are willing to leave one career for another if it means more competitive pay. If you haven’t checked to see what the competition is paying, including competition from industries outside of your normal peer group such as retail, manufacturing, or logistics you may want to start with an objective market analysis of compensation.

Compensation studies are one of our specialties. We have deep experience with base compensation benchmarking, incentive program development, and total rewards. Check out our updates on workforce strategy and compensation or contact us for other helpful resources.

Required employment postings – State of Ohio Minimum Wage change for 2022

Posted by on Jan 5, 2022 in Best Practices, Blog, Compensation Consulting, Compliance, HR Consulting, Human Resources consulting | Comments Off on Required employment postings – State of Ohio Minimum Wage change for 2022

Required employment postings – State of Ohio Minimum Wage change for 2022

The State of Ohio has released its new Minimum Wage poster for 2022.  Ohio employers are required to post this in a conspicuous place where the employees can see the poster easily. Visit Ohio.gov to print your copy and post as many as needed in your workplace.

Remember, if you have employees in other states you may need to pay a different minimum wage than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour or Ohio’s, which is $9.30 per hour in 2022. Also, some municipalities have different minimum wages than their states’, so be sure to check with your city’s wage commission to make sure you are in compliance.

PRO TIP: If you have employees working from home or remotely, attach the required posters to the back of your employee handbook.  This will allow you to provide this information to employees who are not physically onsite. If you have an internal communication tool like Slack, you can store them there as well.

Watch for new updates on workforce strategy or contact us for other helpful resources.

Case study – performance management process for Library Director and Fiscal Officer

Posted by on Nov 16, 2021 in Best Practices, Blog, Case Study, Coaching, Communication, Government and Public Sector, HR Consulting, Human Resources consulting, Performance Management, Public Libraries, Success Stories | Comments Off on Case study – performance management process for Library Director and Fiscal Officer

Case study – performance management process for Library Director and Fiscal Officer

Our case study for this month highlights work we did for a public library client of ours. We are passionate about helping our public library clients learn and use best practices when it comes to Human Resources strategies. In this project we worked with a library’s Board of Trustees to develop a performance management process for the library’s senior leadership team.

We were contacted by the Board President who was seeking a partner to help develop a performance management process and provide compensation data, including best practices on pay increases, incentives, and other aspects of rewards, for their Library Director and Fiscal Officer.

  • Our process started with collaborating with the Board, the Library Director, and the Fiscal Officer to understand expectations regarding job duties, and just as importantly, what traits and behaviors, also known as competencies, are important to be successful in those roles at their library. This is a critical part of the process to make decisions about expectation around what needs to be done and how it gets done.
  • Using what we learned we were able to refine the job descriptions which is the primary tool for setting expectations. We ensured all of the critical elements of the job were included so that the Library Director and Fiscal Officer would have a clear idea of what is expected of them both in terms of job duties and behaviors.
  • With the refined job descriptions and the competencies defined for each role we then developed a performance management tool that easily allowed the Trustees to provide constructive feedback during the annual review process. A suite of materials was provided including review forms, instructions, and goal-setting tools anchored in the job descriptions and strategic plan.
  • Finally, we provided cash compensation benchmarking using general survey tools as well as library-specific compensation data. Information on best practices regarding pay-for-performance approaches, compensation philosophy, and compensation program administration was also provided. The compensation recommendations were linked to the performance management processes to create an integrated system to performance management and rewards.

If you are struggling with developing a system to set expectations, provide feedback, and tie rewards to outcomes, contact us. We understand the challenges Trustees face and are glad to share our experience helping them perform this critical part of their roles.

Library Director and Fiscal Officer performance management

Posted by on Nov 16, 2021 in Best Practices, Blog, Coaching, Communication, Government and Public Sector, HR Consulting, Human Resources consulting, Performance Management, Public Libraries | Comments Off on Library Director and Fiscal Officer performance management

Library Director and Fiscal Officer performance management

By Cari Dubiel

Developing and executing the evaluation of an Executive Director or Fiscal Officer is often a challenge for public library trustees and employees alike. As community members, trustees aren’t always able to be on-site at the library. Administrative staff are tasked with operating the library, so the trustees don’t have to, and there is an expectation of trust between the two.

Yet an evaluation is a key component of the trustees’ responsibility. Like any other staff member, a Director or Fiscal Officer should receive feedback and embrace opportunities to grow. At the same time, these important staff members must help to guide the evaluation process so the Board can understand what they do. Here are a few tips for those on both sides of the evaluation.

For Boards

  • Commit to evaluating your administrative staff formally once a year and on an ongoing basis throughout.
  • Document throughout the year when you notice opportunities and strengths. Use specific examples.
  • Ask staff who report to the Director and Fiscal Officer to give feedback. Consider a 360 degree review process, where the administrative staff have the opportunity to review their own performance, their employees can give feedback, and all Board members (not just the personnel committee) can provide input. If you have a Friends of the Library or Foundation organization, solicit input from them as well.
  • Review the questions you use at least every two to three years to make sure they are still relevant to the library’s strategic goals and the work of the administrative staff.
  • United for Libraries, a division of ALA, has great resources for Boards looking to improve their evaluation processes.
  • The Ohio Library Council Core Competencies can get you on the path to what traits and behaviors are important at your library.

 For Library Directors and Fiscal Officers

  • You should have an active role in helping to create and revise the questions for your evaluation.
  • Do a self-evaluation every year and share your findings with your Board. This will also help you to set goals both short- and long-term. Document your own successes, too – since the Board is not always around to see those, it will help them to have that information and statistics to back up your work.
  • Speaking of statistics, you can use vendor tools and/or Excel to create easy-to-read charts showing your progress and growth. Baker and Taylor’s Collection HQ, for example, has a customizable dashboard you can have e-mailed to yourself each month. Other vendors, such as Midwest Tape and Overdrive, can create personalized reviews of how your users are consuming the products you buy from them.
  • Even if your Board does not have a 360 degree review process, you should solicit feedback from your staff. If your organization is not very flat, you may have to create a survey or other form with clear boundaries so that you do not invite non-constructive criticism. If you’re in a smaller library, you can hold focus groups and/or one-on-one conversations with staff.
  • When creating goals and action items for yourself, use your strategic plan as a guide.

Providing feedback to your leadership team is critical. Following these steps will make it more effective when you provide it.

Cari Dubiel is a public library expert with 20-plus years of experience. Having worked from the ground up as a Shelver to her current management position with the Twinsburg Public Library, Cari understands the operational aspects of public libraries from both a staff and administrative perspective. Cari has managed projects such as technical services workflow development, software evaluation and implementation, collection development analysis, employee onboarding and training, and website usability. She holds a bachelors’ degree from Hiram College and a Master’s in Library and Information Science from Kent State University. She is also an adjunct faculty member at KSU in the iSchool program. She presents frequently for PCI Webinars and has also presented for NEO-RLS, OLC, and public library staff development days. A former Library Liaison to the National board of Sisters in Crime, Cari is very active in the publishing industry. She is represented by Lynnette Novak of the Seymour Agency and is the lead editor for Writing Bloc Books.

Client success story – Sangfroid Strategy

Posted by on Nov 15, 2021 in Best Practices, Blog, Compensation Consulting, HR Consulting, Human Resources consulting, Performance Management, Success Stories | Comments Off on Client success story – Sangfroid Strategy

Client success story – Sangfroid Strategy

As a professional services firm ourselves, we know the challenges they face as they start to grow. Our latest success story provides insight into the needs of a growing firm and how a Human Resources consulting partner can help.

Sangfroid Strategy is a full-service consulting firm that specializes in helping organizations whose work falls at the intersection of innovation, education, and community, build and implement innovative programming, plan for their future, and figure out how to get there. Their work is highly customized, and always based on evidence-based practice and engagement of populations who are most proximate to the problems their customers are trying to solve.

At their core, Sangfroid Strategy believes that people are the drivers of great communities [and organizations], and when you fully engage the human element of organizations and the people they serve, you amplify the impact of planning and growth.

Founder and CEO Heather Lenz was our partner on the project. She said:

We have experienced phenomenal growth over the past few years and our people processes have not kept up. We contacted OA because our growth meant we needed to upgrade our ways of communicating important things to our employees, especially around expectations regarding both job duties and behaviors.


OA helped us develop the tools to set expectations effectively, provide feedback, and clarify what is important to us and our clients. Additionally they helped us navigate the myriad of employment rules companies have to follow so that we would be compliant and do the right thing for our employees.


They provided tools such as an employee handbook, policies and procedures, performance management tools, and compensation data. They coached us with performance management, hiring, and other activities. They help us understand how incentives can be used effectively to drive business outcomes and reward high performance. They put us on a path to start strong in 2022 and build on our recent successes.

Smaller companies can have limited resources…especially time…but the need to build and maintain good HR processes is still required. We can help with tools to make this a bit easier. Want to know more? Contact us and check out other success stories to learn more.

Leadership and supervisor training

Posted by on Oct 21, 2021 in Best Practices, Blog, Coaching, HR Consulting, Human Resources consulting, Leadership, Training and Development, Training and Development Consulting | Comments Off on Leadership and supervisor training

Leadership and supervisor training

Our clients contact us asking for guidance when they wish to implement leadership development programs.  There are usually two needs they have identified:

  1. Helping senior management become more effective at leading the organization and becoming more strategic, and
  2. Helping front-line supervisors become more adept at managing their teams and learning basic management skills to become more effective.

Regardless of what the need is, we want to learn some information from the client to help guide them to select the best topics and also ensure there is a system in place to reinforce the learning and integrate it into the culture.

Some of the things we ask the client are:

  • What are your goals?  More concretely, what do you envision the results to look like?  You should have some idea of what you want to achieve.  We recommend you take the time to write your goals down and what they will look like.
  • How do you know what training gaps there are? How have they manifested themselves in how people manage or lead? What has the effect been on employees? Identifying the difference between long-standing issues and recent critical events will ensure you are addressing root causes and not merely symptoms.
  • How open is the team to learning?  Are they willing to change their approach, even if it is difficult?  Work may be needed to ensure people are primed to learn.
  • Do the actions of the leadership team model the behaviors you want to see in the supervisors? Do they walk the walk? Without alignment between what leadership says and how they behave the program will fail.
  • What systems are in place to hold people accountable and make changes? Is there a robust performance management and coaching system in place?  Training is used to set expectations.  There has to be a system in place to measure and communicate results.

Training and development programs can be expensive to implement. Determining your goals and defining the outcomes before you embark on working with a partner or sending people to training is critical to ensure you get the best return on investment.  Making sure the means to measure behavior change is also needed to determine success or failure.

Also remember that training should not be seen as ‘punishment’. Remedying poor performance may involve additional training, but it should not be seen as a means to enforce discipline or only used if there is something wrong. Training and development is based on taking good people and making them even better.

Do you need assistance with your leadership development and supervisor training programs? Contact us and check out our Updates for more helpful resources.


How should we respond to the ‘Great Resignation’?

Posted by on Oct 21, 2021 in Best Practices, Blog, Communication, HR Consulting, Human Resources consulting, Leadership | Comments Off on How should we respond to the ‘Great Resignation’?

How should we respond to the ‘Great Resignation’?

How should we respond to the ‘Great Resignation’?

By Ryan Sheehan

Like many of you, I have recently read a number of articles about the mass-exodus of workers from the US labor market [i.e., the ‘Great Resignation’] since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, and have been reflecting upon its consequences, causes, and how we leaders should respond. Here is some data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

  • A record 42.1 million Americans quit a job in 2019.
  • Every month from April to August 2021, at least 2.5% of the American workforce quit their jobs.
  • In August alone, more than 4.3 million people handed in their two weeks’ notice, according to federal statistics.
  • So far, 2021 quit levels are about 10% to 15% higher than they were in record-setting 2019.

This trend is a clearly a significant and steep one. In our daily lives, we are seeing the firsthand consequences of staffing shortages that hamstring many businesses’ operations and the slowing down supply chains.

The driving factors beyond this phenomenon are numerous and varied [and in some cases debatable…e.g., the impact of federal supplemental unemployment insurance] but the most common and credible reasons given for the ‘Great Resignation’ appear to be:

  • Low wages and stagnant wage growth outpacing increased cost of goods/living.
  • Increasing childcare costs [that simply making work unaffordable for some parents].
  • Declining working conditions, exacerbated by COVID-19 [i.e., healthcare, service, and retail industry jobs particularly, but also any employees who have been saddled with additional work responsibilities and hours due to increased pandemic-related staffing shortages].
  • Jobs lacking opportunities for career growth.
  • Jobs lacking in providing personal fulfillment, meaning, or purpose.
  • Long term pandemic fatigue.
  • Garden variety job burnout.

On the surface, this challenge seems new, overwhelming, and with no end in sight – but is this actually the case? A once-in-a-lifetime pandemic hanging in the air that is creating societal-wide uncertainty is a novel dynamic, but all these other casual factors are workplace problems we have faced before in one form or another. As always, there are no one-size-fits-all solutions, but several areas [beyond wage increases and other financial incentives] which businesses can focus on improvement are:

  • Creating more manageable [and rebalancing] workloads and performance goals.
  • Implementing flexible work schedules [and/or updating and the policies, procedures, and expectations around them].
  • Giving employees true autonomy and control over their work duties [to the extent possible].
  • Meaningful rewarding and acknowledging of good work and extra contributions during these last several, very challenging years.
  • Fostering a genuine, supportive workplace community and positive work culture [that is calibrated for hybrid and/or fully remote environments].
  • Helping workers find mission, meaning, and value in their work.
  • Asking employees directly what their organizations can do to make their work experience better [in the context their new work/life balance struggles but within the business’ limitations].

Most importantly, we business leaders need not only to think differently, but to act more boldly than we might have in the past. We should avoid always seeing fatigue and burnout as the worker’s problem and go beyond offering things like yoga and mindfulness training to help them ‘fix their own issues’. An extra week off for a Zoom or burnout break [as a few tech companies have recently offered] is a nice gesture but not a real commitment to change. And, as always, the true keys to success in applying the right remedies is in their specificity, correct application, and compatibility with your organization’s and workforce’s particular dynamics.

Ryan Sheehan is a colleague and friend of OA and has led a number of successful talent acquisition projects for non-profit and public-sector organizations with us. He is an accomplished Human Resources and talent management professional with a solid track record of aligning people and business strategies. Across his 18 years of career experience, he has developed, implemented, and improved Human Resources programs, processes, and tools/technologies. Also, Ryan is adept at directly matching top talent with esteemed employers and creating strong talent acquisition strategies, trainings, and teams.