Category Archives: HR Resolutions

Holidays & PTO: An Employer’s Guide

The holiday season is the most wonderful time of the year – a time to shop, wrap, bake, decorate, and much more. But, what happens when all of your employees want paid time off to perform all of their holiday duties and traditions? We have your answers.

Let’s start at the beginning. Paid time off (PTO) is any time an employee does not work but is still paid for the day. Companies often offer PTO to employees to take vacation days, deal with family issues, or just have some down time. Holidays are often a popular time to ask for PTO so employees can travel and spend time with family and friends. Here’s what you need to know about PTO during the holidays:

  • You can deny PTO requests: Although it can be tough, employers do have the right to deny a request for PTO during the holidays. There are no federal mandates requiring employers to give employees time off on nationally-recognized or other holidays.
  • Know what works for your business: Be flexible, but realistic. If you can afford it, try to accommodate those PTO requests. We recommend that employees be required to work their regularly-scheduled shifts before and after the holiday to qualify for PTO on the holiday itself. (A scheduled PTO day “counts” as having worked their shift.)
  • Be fair in accommodating requests: Create a policy for determining PTO requests and stick to it. Some businesses prefer a “first come, first serve” approach, but that can be difficult if certain staffers request off each holiday far in advance to ensure they have time off. Perhaps you require your employees to work at least one holiday per year and switch the holidays each year. As long as the policy is lawful, it doesn’t matter so much what it is, but rather that you follow it for each employee.
  • Be aware of religious holidays & PTO regulations: Religious discrimination in the workplace is unlawful. If an employee asks for the day off for religious or belief reasons and you deny their request, you must provide a reason unrelated to religion or belief to justify your decision.
  • Understand the rights of hourly and salary employees.
    • Hourly employees: Employers do not have to pay hourly (or non-exempt) employees for holidays unless, of course, they work that holiday. Also, holiday and PTO time do NOT have to count toward the weekly calculation of overtime (check your handbook for the definition of overtime hours.)
    • Salaried employees: There are a few exceptions, but generally, exempt employees should be paid their weekly salary if they work any hours during the week that the holiday falls.

Above all, appreciate your employees. Even if you can’t accommodate everyone’s requests for time off, tell your employees “thank you” for working the holiday season. Consider providing free snacks or hot chocolate in the break room for employees who work on a holiday. Write them handwritten “thank you” notes. Keep it simple, but let your employees know that you appreciate their work. Happy holidays!

With the arrival of the holiday season usually comes inclement weather. Read our tips to a fair and consistent inclement weather policy.

This entry was posted on by HR Resolutions LLC.

Top notch interview tips for your next hire

1.    Start with the job description. All questions you ask must revolve around the candidate’s ability to do the job.

2.    Figure out their “soft skills.” Behavioral Interviewing does just that – by the questions you ask, you can determine an individual’s competencies and strengths. You’ll find some generally recommended questions below.

3.    Be consistent. Ask all candidates for the same job the same/similar questions. (Behavioral Interviewing enables you to clarify and probe specifics of an individual’s answers but you want to keep the basis of the interview the same across the search.) Document your comments, positive and negative, and evaluate the individual candidate against the competencies immediately following the interview. You’ll be surprised how all the candidates will meld together as you do more recruiting!

4.    Use open-ended questions to get the candidate talking.

5.    Use closed questions to clarify and probe their answers if/when necessary. They should do about 80% of the talking.

6.    RELAX. Your candidate is nervous too – there’s no harm in letting them know that YOU are nervous; in fact, that’s a good way to break the ice. You are just having a conversation about your professional likes and dislikes. (They get to do most of the talking so that should help set you at ease.)

The Interview

1.    Ice breakers: Ask one or two questions: How was your trip? Did you have any trouble finding the meeting site? Can I get you something to drink?

2.    Explain the format. We’re going to have a conversation about our needs and your abilities. Please think of it just as a professional discussion among colleagues. After that, you’ll have an opportunity to ask any questions you might have and then we’ll talk about the next steps.

3.    Ask your first prepared question.

Sample Questions

  1. Tell me about your last work assignment. What did you like most/least? Why?

    • Listen for the detail/lack of detail they provide
    • Are they talking in chronological order

  1. What was your favorite/least favorite work assignment? Why?

    • Demonstrates what will/will not motivate them

  1. How would your co-workers describe you?

    • Describes how THEY think others see them

  1. What did your supervisor recommend you improve upon? Did you agree?

    • Can they acknowledge weakness in a positive manner

  1. If you could create the ideal work environment/job/boss…what would it look like…?

    • Is this a match for what you offer

  1. Why did you choose your profession?

    • What thought process went into their decision

  1. What do you believe is the most valuable lesson you have learned at work?

    • Will show what is valuable to them

  1. Tell me about a time when you made a mistake on a project/assignment.

    • Again, can they turn this into a positive…did they use common sense/good judgment in working through the problem

  1. Describe your proudest work accomplishment.

    • Again, what motivates them

  1. You’ve seen the job description (assuming they have). Why are you qualified for this job?

    • Where do they see the fit

Their questions

1.    Be prepared for almost anything including the “I really don’t have any right now.” Please note, this demonstrates a lack of interest in the job/opportunity/company/interviewer – even if they are ultra nervous.

2.    Be honest. If they ask a question that you don’t have an answer to, tell them the truth – we haven’t considered that or I’ll let you know.

3.    Remain open. Offer your business card and open the door for them to contact you in the next day or so if they think of anything else.

4.    Avoid pay and benefit questions by simply stating it’s too soon in the process to discuss that topic, but you will be fair should you make an offer.

Closing the interview

1.    Tell the candidate the next step.

2.    Debrief. Immediately after the candidate leaves, document your thoughts (job related) with supporting information and examples from their responses. For example: the candidate was not well organized – he dropped his resume on the floor and skipped around when discussing his professional experience.

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This entry was posted on by HR Resolutions LLC.

The Biggest Mistake in Hiring


No kidding, hiring is a bit like dating. Everyone is on their best behavior and it’s an exciting time to bring the “newbie” who is going to work wonders in the company. And, sometimes we get lucky and find our perfect person.

But more often than not, we find that there are warts on our Prince and somehow we missed that in the early stages.

Hiring too fast is often the biggest mistake small to mid-size companies make. Sometimes it’s lack of planning, sometimes it’s an urgent need brought on by new business; but whatever the situation hiring in desparation will always end up a disaster.

You’ll be left shaking your head in dispair and another person will have cycled through your business. Having an HR plan can alleviate your biggest hiring mistake. Using an outside firm, like ours, can give you the benefit of objective insight that will guide you through the hiring process so that you aren’t alone in assessing potential employees.

We can help you with testing, interviewing, background checks and training when the “perfect one” comes on board. Give us a call. Let’s talk before you make another hiring mistake.

Karen Young HR Resolutions® LLC

5441 Jonestown Rd. Harrisburg, PA 17112

Phone: 717-652-5187

Fax: 717-652-2187

This entry was posted on by HR Resolutions LLC.

Keys to Effective Hiring

group of business people

In a recent article on hiring, Matthew O’Connell of Select International, Inc. gave these tips that we thought might be helpful for you.

  • Identify what really needs to be evaluated.

Assessing candidates based on 25 competencies might work for some organizations, but that approach isn’t appropriate for all, 10 good ones is enough.

  • Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

Simply put, don’t just give a personality test. Or just conduct an interview. Because performance is multifaceted, a single assessment method just isn’t enough to accurately predict performance.

  • Use assessment tools appropriately.

Don’t use cognitive ability tests to measure personality, and don’t use personality tests to measure how well someone can solve problems. Different tools serve different purposes, and you need to know which to use and when

  • Put the least expensive tools up front.

In addition to identifying the most qualified candidates, an effective selection system also saves your organization money by reducing the time spent on applicants who are not qualified or would be a poor fit.

  • Look at accuracy, time and cost.

Focus your attention first and foremost on accuracy, followed by tim involved for both your organization and the applicant, and lastly cost, the cheapest isn’t necessarily the best.

  • Measure the results.

Are we doing a better job than we were a year ago?

What changes can we implement to make sure we’re doing even better a year from now?

How accurate have we been in making good hires?

How many bad hires have there been?

What do the bad hires tend to have in common with each other?

Here at HR Resolutions we work with clients to help them through the hiring process so that they are surrounded by the best people possible. Developing a good team starts with hiring right. Let us know if we can help.

This entry was posted on by HR Resolutions LLC.

Can the Swine Flu infect your business?

With the Swine Flu all over the news and other illnesses such as the Bird Flu looming over our shoulders, does the thought ever pop into your head…

“What happens if no one comes to work?”

Sickness bringing your business to a halt?
If so, you are moving in the correct direction. If no thought or planning has gone into this issue and another pandemic comes around, a business owner or manager could be left stuck with no workers and no plan to implement.

It’s estimated that, during a pandemic, 40% of your workforce will be either sick, caring for a sick loved one, or too afraid to come to work due to fear of getting sick. What will you do when 40% of your employees do not show up to work on Monday morning?

It’s best if every company implements a Business Continuity Plan, such as major companies like Sprint, Microsoft, and IBM. Sprint has an Emergency Incident Management team as part of their Business Continuity Plan and many companies have restricted travel when alert levels rise to a specific number. Another option that IBM started in 2006 is to do an assessment of how many employees can work from home and what skills can be covered by other employees if someone were to get sick.

Whatever the Business Continuity Plan includes, it is a necessary tool for each company, large and small. If you need assistance creating a Business Continuity Plan you can get help from the PA Department of Health or call us to help you devise your plan so you are prepared for any pandemic that may hit.

This entry was posted on by HR Resolutions LLC.

Karen Young Re-certified as Senior HR Professional

Harrisburg, PA –Karen Young, President of HR Resolutions recently earned re-certification as a Senior Profession in Human Resources (PHR).

The certification, awarded by the HR Certification Institute, signifies that Karen Young possesses the theoretical knowledge and practical experience in human resource management necessary to pass a rigorous examination demonstrating a mastery of the body of knowledge in the field.

“Certification as a human resource professional clearly demonstrates a commitment to personal excellence and to the human resource profession,” said Mary Power, CAE, Executive Director of the HR Certification Institute.

To become certified, an applicant must pass a comprehensive examination and demonstrate a strong background of professional human resource experience.

The HR Certification Institute is the credentialing body for human resource professionals and is affiliated with the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), the world’s largest organization dedicated exclusively to the human resource profession.  The Institute’s purpose is to promote the establishment of professional standards and to recognize professionals who meet those standards.

This entry was posted on by HR Resolutions LLC.

Employee Free Choice Act Introduced

Federal Legislative Action Alert! (3.10.09)

Today, the Employee Free Choice Act was introduced in Congress!  The bill was sponsored by Representative George Miller (D-CA), the House Education and Labor Committee Chair, and Senator Tom Harkin (D-MA).

The legislation would amend the National Labor Relations Act to allow unions to use the “card check” process – and bypass the secure, private election format – each time they attempt to organize workers.


The National Labor Relations Act currently provides two opportunities for employees to decide whether or not to form or join a union:

  1. Private ballot election – When a union receives a majority of votes through a secret ballot election administered by the National Labor Relations Board, the union is certified as the sole bargaining agent on behalf of the employees, or  
  2. “Card check” recognition – When a union receives at least 30 percent of signed authorization cards, the employer can request that a private ballot election be held.  (When a union receives at least 50 percent of signed cards, the employer can either recognize the union immediately or request an election.)


The EFCA would dramatically change federal labor law.  The legislation would allow a union to bypass the election process after collecting authorization cards from a majority of employees.  Thus, employers would lose the right to request that an election be held.

If enacted into law, EFCA would:

  • Eliminate employees’ opportunity to vote in a federally-administered, private ballot election;
  • Require binding arbitration within 120 days after a union is certified through a signed card collection process, if the employer and the union are unable to reach an agreement;
  • Restrict an employer’s communications to employees about the workplace issues involved in the union organizing drive; and
  • Create new fines against employers for an expanded list of unfair labor practices

SHRM supports the basic rights of all employees to decide freely whether or not to join a union.  However, we strongly believe that a federally-supervised, private ballot election is the best way for employees to make this decision.

In addition, SHRM believes the mandatory binding arbitration called for under EFCA could impose unwanted employment conditions on both employees and employers.  So in sum, employees could simultaneously lose their rights to vote on union representation and to approve workplace contracts.

 Action Needed

Already this year, SHRM members have sent more than 20,000 letters to Members of Congress expressing opposition to EFCA.  You may still write your elected officials using SHRM’s HR Voice program by clicking HERE.

This entry was posted on by HR Resolutions LLC.

Citizens to Protect PA Jobs

Citizens to Protect PA Jobs is a broad-based coalition of businesses and concerned Pennsylvanians dedicated to advancing smart policies that promote job creation and economic growth.

The goals of the initiative are to educate the general public about the issues that impact job creation (when businesses add jobs, people and communities prosper) and to provide an effective way for them to take action.

Visitors to will be able to sign up for issue alerts and contact their elected officials to take action as needed. The first phase of the initiative — development of the website — is now complete. 

Card Check is the first content issue that this coalition is addressing. The issues featured on the website and calls to action will be periodically updated as activity at the state and federal level requires. Additional content and enhancements will be coming in the future.

Check out the website, and be sure to tell your friends and family! 

For those who have not heard, the bills were filed in both the US House and Senate on Tuesday, March 10. H.R. 1409 and S. 560

This entry was posted on by HR Resolutions LLC.

Join Me in Washington?


To view this email as a web page, go here.







The Virtual March on Washington








Dear Karen,

Thank you for being one the first people to join the Virtual March to Save the Secret Ballot . You are one of over 12,500 people now marching to oppose the so-called “Employee Free Choice Act” (EFCA).

To see who’s marching with you and encourage your friends to join, visit

The bill has not yet been introduced in the House or Senate. Many believe this is because of people like you who have spoken out against this legislation. In fact, The Hill ran an article discussing this point on Tuesday.

To keep momentum going, we’ve created a “cause” on Facebook to further spotlight this issue. Connect with us on Facebook.

We need strength in numbers to defeat this bill. Forward this email to a friend and say NO to EFCA.

Bill Miller

P.S. For more information on EFCA, visit




U.S. Chamber of Commerce U.S. Chamber of Commerce | 1615 H Street, NW | Washington, DC 20062-2000 |



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Take Action Now on the Card Check Bill

Card Check Bill – Not Just a Big Company Issue

Many Small Business Owners think that the Card Check Bill is not something that will effect them and that unionization is a Big Company Issue.  But, it’s not.  If the Card Check Bill is passed, your small business can become unionized almost overnight and you can’t do anything about it. 

But, you can do something now.  The only way we can get this bill to fail is for you to contact your legislators – particularly Senator Spector, who is on the fence on this issue – and make your voice be heard.  We need to make the voice of Small Business Owners ring loud and create an impact.  Here’s what you can do…

The Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA):  Obama co-sponsored the EFCA which would change the union certification process by eliminating secret ballot elections and would only require a majority of workers to sign authorization cards designating a union as their bargaining representative.  Many employers worry that this would take away their chance to argue against unionization, which they currently have the right to do during the campaign period leading up to the secret ballot.  

Employers everywhere are very concerned about the passage of this bill and, like you, want to get involved in the “virtual march” on Washington.  We recommend you click on the link below and make your voice be heard.  Send a letter to your senators and representatives.  You can get more information by going to: 

Join the rest of your colleagues in keeping this bill from being passed.  It’s the future of America that’s at stake here…let’s all be heard!   

This entry was posted on by HR Resolutions LLC.