EEOC Sets Record for Charges Handled in FY 2011.

The EEOC handled 99,947 charges in fiscal 2011 – an all-time record for the agency.

They recovered approximately $365 million dollars for claimants (nearly as much as the EEOC’s fiscal year 2011 budget).

While I appreciate the work the EEOC does, I don’t want any of my clients to experience the agency’s efficiency first hand.

To avoid problems with the EEOC, audit your employment policies and practices to ensure that they are not discriminatory. Even though many employment laws have been around for decades, many employers still don’t understand them (although many believe, erroneously, that they do.

The laws that govern discrimination are relatively straightforward and organizations are required to understand and follow them. Many organizations don’t know that their actions are discriminatory. It is often best to get the objective opinion of an outsider to ensure that your organization truly is compliant. Additionally, an outsider will often be able to suggest ways to save costs, improve compliance in cost effective ways. Get an HR compliance audit to determine where you stand. Fix what needs to be fixed, if anything, and you can stop worrying.

HR audits and the compliance action plans that are developed from them are affordable by all size organizations and many, many times less expensive than disputing a claim with the EEOC.

PGPI has over a decade of experience doing HR Audits and Compliance Action Plans. If you don’t use us, please use someone. Start 2012 off right, call a provider today.

Rick Galbreath


Something for Employers to be Thankful for – Workers Compensation Reform

On September 1, 2011, several changes were made to Illinois workers compensation law. These changes will reduce claim cost and were welcomed by the employer community – even though many didn’t feel they went far enough.

Reduced Medical Costs

Physician fees were reduced by 30%. This is a large decrease and while I appreciate the direction, I am concerned that we have reduced the pay to treating doctors too much.

Carpal Tunnel Payments

Permanency awards for carpal tunnel (which can be very large) injuries have been a source of concern for employers for decades. The payout amount was previously so large that some believed that one case often spawned many others in a workplace – as employees saw what the injured worker got for their claim they “developed” carpal tunnel. In most cases now, the cost will be capped at 15% loss of the hand.

Intoxication Related Injuries

Make sure you have a good post-accident alcohol testing process set up with a local medical organization! Worker’s injured while intoxicated will see their claims denied.

The best way to reduce workers compensation costs is to keep employees healthy. Generally, companies get really serious about safety, when their WC mod and premiums shoots through the roof. Start 2012 off with a commitment to better job design and safety training. The costs involved are often slight. Longer-term you are doing the right thing and reducing your total cost.

2012 Salary Increase Projections – Time For Incentives?

The average salary increase budget for 2012 will, based upon current forecasts, be about 3%.

Increases to base salaries are nice to give but they, by their very nature, are hard to justify financially. Unless the fundamentals of a business (productivity, waste reduction, raw material costs, sales, etc.) change positively, raises hurt the vitality of an organization. In a down market, we need extra money for marketing, for cash reserves and other important things.

In today’s fast-paced, global economy intentionally hurting the bottom line is the surest way to ensure that your product or service becomes a candidate for third world adoption.

Perhaps it is time to have employees at all levels of an organization meaningfully participate in generating the funds necessary to fund the extra money they’d like to get. A well thought out and implemented incentive program can make an incredibly positive impact on both a company’s bottom line and their employee’s commitment to it and morale.

I thought I was a good employee until I some of my annual income became “at risk”. Now, I see the world much differently – and much more clearly. I “invest” every penny, watch for unproductive activity, go way out of my way to provide excellent customer service, etc. We need to help our employees become more involved in the, at least, virtual ownership of our companies.

Do incentives really work? After 30 years of experience with them, I say the answer is a definite “depends”. If well designed and communicated, yes; if not, no. The incentives you come up with quickly, generally start hurting you quickly. One piece of advice, seek help and take the time necessary to do this properly.

Let me give you one example of an incentive that worked. A manufacturing company had high turnover (30 percent a year), low productivity (typically 85% of standard), low quality (90%) and a raft of related problems. The business was in trouble. I went in and spent time with the organization thinking about the multitude of factors that caused these issues and developed and communicated a good plan.

What happened? A year later turnover was at 15%, productivity was at 95% and quality was at 98%. Absenteeism was down, on time shipments were through the roof, new found profit was flooding in, employees were happier. Best yet, the new incentive was much more than self-funding.

Changing to an incentive driven company isn’t for everyone but right now is the time to start thinking about whether it is for your company.

All the best,

Rick Galbreath

NLRB Puts Hold On New Poster – For Now

The NLRB announced last week that they were postponing the new poster requirement, advising employees of their rights under the National Labor Relations Act, until January 31, 2012.

Many business organizations roundly criticized the NLRB for this new requirement.  The new poster was seen by many as one more brick on their already overloaded carts – more work, more cost.  Additionally, many believe that the NLRB’s new poster requirements had more to do with its fairly transparent pro-union orientation than in helping American’s understand their rights.

This isn’t over yet.

Stay tuned for new developments.


Focusing on the Connection, Not the Handoff

In 2008, the US Olympic relay team was heavily favored to win gold.  They didn’t win – they dropped the baton.

Businesses drop batons all the time. Like the US Olympic Relay team, businesses drop batons because they focus on the handoff, not the connection.  Unlike the US Olympic team, however, we often don’t know we’ve dropped the baton and, because of this, we don’t fix the underlying causes of the disconnect.

Let’s look at training for an example of what I mean.

Go to a random employee in your organization and ask them to write down the specific things that they took away from their most recent full-day training
session.  Typically, you will get a short list of very generalized concepts.

Next ask the employee to tell you about the specific things that have changed in their work routines or abilities since the training.  Another short list of generalized concepts.

Unless a meaningful change happens after a training program, the cost of the presenter, the attendance of the participants and the opportunity costs are a write off.

Putting together a good training program and presenting it well isn’t enough. That’s the handoff.  Making sure that people “get it”, that they walk away with new actionable items and that they actually put the training received to use – that’s the connection.  We need to focus on both and not be satisfied until we’ve achieved the connection.

Failing to connect is the number one cause of less than optimal relations, business and personal, and business results.  Luckily, this is an easy problem to fix.  Stay tuned for upcoming blogs on the subject.

By the way, this isn’t just an intellectual construct for me – it is where I lived for
most of my professional life.  I was a great presenter and a caring, forward looking leader. Unfortunately,  I focused on the handoff – I delivered my
thoughts but didn’t truly connect with my audiences.  People didn’t always get full value from my training programs and executive coaching.  My employees didn’t always fully grasp my thought pattern or direction.  In business, you all go
forward together or you fumble around.  Connections reduce fumbling around.
Glad I finally figured that out.

More later ….


DOL Shares Info With States – More Fines Coming

The Department of Labor is in the process of signing agreements with numerous states (Illinois, Missouri are included, more will be as time goes along) to share compliance and enforcement information.

What does this mean? Your company gets fined because it misclassified an employee as an independent contractor by your state. Ok, you’ve paid the fine, you are done, right? Not so fast, the information will now be reported to the Department of Labor. This new step will mean additional fines. Of course, the IRS will also be notified and they will be interested in ensuring your taxes are properly computed and paid, with penalties.

The Federal government, under Labor Secretary Solis, has significantly increased enforcement activities. This isn’t going away in the near future.

It’s easy to avoid liability; just follow the law. It is the right thing to do and, frankly, done correctly it will save you a lot of money and stress over time.

If you don’t know if you are in compliance (and many companies don’t) seek out a consultant to do an independent HR audit of your pay, HR policy and related systems. These are relatively cheap and you will be pleased at the resulting improvements.

The National Labor Relations Board Issues New Poster Requirement- Business Community Aghast

On August 25, 2011, the NLRB finalized a rule requiring all but a few employers in the United States to put up a poster informing their workers about their rights under the National Labor Relations Act.

Many business organizations believe this new poster, which must be 11 by 17 inches in size, is a thinly disguised union sponsorship by the perceived pro-union members of the NLRB. Some question the legality of such a requirement.

The NLRB says that it is just doing its job and that many agencies have published similar posters.

The new poster requirements become effective on November 14, 2011.

Please email me at and I’ll send you a copy of the poster for your review.

Whether you think this is an attempt on the part of the NLRB to help unions organize or that this is a legitimate activity meant to help employees to truly understand their rights under law, the fact of the matter is that nothing on the poster is untrue. Further, unless there is some intervention in the short-term, the requirement will take effect as planned.

Here’s some really good advice that I hope every reader takes to heart: Instead of worrying about the poster, I recommend that you get very, very serious about ensuring your employees don’t feel they need a third party to protect their rights.

A happy, engaged workforce provides better customer service and helps your organization generate more profit. When employees are happier, managers, vendors and customers are also happier.

Start by doing a really good employee survey to find out what your employees are really thinking. See my previous articles on employee surveys or email me ( for more information. Next develop an action plan to ensure the quality of the work experience deliver. Being a good employer does not mean spending the most money. The steps to being an employer of choices are very simple and doable by organizations of all size.