In his program “Happiness is a Serious Problem,” Dennis Prager shares three keys to happiness, including:

  1. Purpose and meaning in our work and our homelife;
  2. Relationships in our work, our community and our home;
  3. Gratitude.

While the first two seem obvious, the third is more intriguing: Gratitude. In this world of entitlements, immediate gratification and greed, how do we develop an appreciation of what others take for granted? Prager counseled, “Lower your expectations!”

There is good sense behind the warning, “You don’t get what you expect. You get what you inspect.” But the more we control and micro-manage, the less pride workers will take for their achievements. By training carefully, coaching supportively and then trusting others’ judgment (or at least their ability to learn), we build responsibility. Not everybody is ready to make big decisions, but when given options, we are no longer victims but instead participants in change.

I feel very grateful for my career opportunities, my trusting boss, my caring co-workers, my close knit family. We don’t need to have it all to be thankful. We need to realize that we are privileged to have a job, to be part of a team, to be able to help the less fortunate.

Tell the gardener she makes your building a nicer place. Tell your mechanic that you know his work counts in keeping you safe. Tell your receptionist how valuable that first impression and each connection is to the success of your company.

What are you grateful for? Enjoy and share the feeling.



The Fix Is In

Recently an HR Manager asked me for advice on how to implement a successful cross-training program for team leads across multiple departments. There was a concern that the team leads would view the change as unfavorable – maybe even punitive. What could she do to secure their buy-in?

I hear very similar questions all the time. How can you rollout a change initiative and ensure that people respond positively? Unfortunately, usually the answer is you can’t. If you want employees to invest in change, it is imperative to involve them in the design and implementation process. This doesn’t mean employees have to drive the process or make all the judgment calls, but they do need to have a voice along the way.

For example, the HR Manager postponed designing the cross-training program until she had the opportunity to debrief those affected. This way she would accomplish two objectives. First, she would be proactive in crafting the message as to why cross-training was a good idea and why it was an opportunity rather than a punishment. In addition, she could solicit their advice on how to make a program successful since they were in the best position to know what would work, what wouldn’t and what obstacles would get in the way.

The result is that she and the leadership team have better data and the team leaders have a voice in the process. If transparency and lines of communication remain open throughout the process, then buy-in will not have to be sought when the initiative launches.

Buy-in will already be there.




I have recently been getting questions from organizations that have already established wage ranges, asking how the new exemption rules may affect their exempt level employees. The issue concerns situations when the range minimum doesn’t meet the new threshold, and there is a blend of employees who are classified as exempt and nonexempt included in these ranges.

So, first and foremost, if the employee is classified as exempt (and they pass the duties test), if they are paid at or above the new threshold of $47,476 they are good to go! However, if you have a policy in place where new hires start at the minimum, then you may have an issue that needs to be addressed.

In the following example, the current salaries meet the new threshold for all but one job, the Accountant. In order to maintain the exemption for the Accountant, the current salary would need to be increased to $47,476 by December 1, 2016, or the job should be reclassified to nonexempt. Pretty simple fix!

However, the range minimum for all the jobs listed are below the threshold. What if your Office Administrator is terminated and you look to rehire? Your internal processes have the new person starting at the minimum which is below the new threshold. Now what?

Job Title FLSA
Midpoint Range
Human Resources Generalist Exempt $48,500 $38,400 $48,000 $57,600
Office Administrator Exempt $51,200 $42,800 $53,500 $64,200
Payroll Supervisor Exempt $52,500 $44,000 $55,000 $66,000
Accountant Exempt $47,200 $39,100 $48,900 $58,700
Production Supervisor Exempt $47,500 $33,600 $42,000 $50,400

Here are a few options you could consider:

  • Reclassify the job as nonexempt.
  • Revise processes and job descriptions for exempt employees that may reflect a higher level job and greater responsibilities, which will help justify paying the employee higher in the range in order to meet or exceed the new threshold.
  • Develop different ranges for exempt and non-exempt employees, ensuring that the minimum never falls below the new threshold for exempt employees.

As always, it is imperative to ensure that employees who are classified as exempt are meeting both the duties test as well as the salary test.

Just a friendly reminder: As we anticipate the December deadline for compliance, make sure you are prepared; however we do recommend that you don’t make any changes until December 1.



sleeping worker

With the impending Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) changes effective December 1, I regularly get the question “what are other employers doing?” Survey results from a recent study on the Implementation of New FLSA Rules conducted by WorldatWork of 948 U.S. employers nationwide are consistent with the conversations that I have been having locally.

Maintain Exemption or Reclassify

The percentage of exempt employees represented at responding organizations is actually quite low at only 10% of their total workforce. While responses vary by job, approximately 15% of respondents will raise employee salaries to the new threshold (maintaining exemption), 9% will reclassify employees to non-exempt, and 4% of respondents are still unsure of how to navigate the changes.

The remaining responses indicate that organizations will be doing a combination of raising to the new threshold to maintain the exemption status as well as reclassifying other employees.


Flexibility has been a growing concern with the FLSA changes both locally as well as nationwide. Survey results seem rather ambiguous, however, when focusing on the two options alone, yet seem to vary based on company size and industry. 50% of respondents report that flexibility options will remain the same for reclassified employees, and 49% report flexibility options will decrease for reclassified nonexempt employees.

Flexibility in the workplace has become a crucial benefit used to attract and retain top talent. If organizations are forced to reevaluate as well as decrease flex options, they may experience higher turnover as well as encounter greater difficulty recruiting for talent.

Cost Containment

Cost containment is a leading concern that organizations are faced with based on the new rules. The WorldatWork Survey results indicate that 69% of respondents have or will see an increase in net costs. 13% of respondents report that net costs will remain the same, 7% are taking cost containment measures to maintain net costs, and 11% are still unsure what the outcome will be. 55% of respondents will see no reduction of planned pay budget increases for the next fiscal year with 16% reporting that the changes will cause a reduction for a portion or for all of their workforce. This leaves 29% who are still unsure.

While some employers have taken action and have defined a direction to go, for a large percentage of employers, what action to take is clearly, unclear. The clock is ticking and December 1st will be here before we know it. If you are one of the lucky few who has a plan in place, kudos to you! However, for those of you who are uncertain, time is of the essence.

Cascade’s FLSA Resource Guide may be just what you have been waiting for, jam packed full of useful information to help you navigate this challenging issue. Let’s not forget the Frequently Asked Questions which are also included!

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