New Training Video – Crash Course on Workplace Sexual Harassment

I just uploaded a new 15-minute crash course training video on Workplace Sexual Harassment. This training session will teach you the legal definition of sexual harassment, help you identify when it is happening at work, and give you the tools to help stop and prevent it.

This is a condensed version of an in-person training session that can be customized for 30, 60, or 90 minutes. If you are interested in receiving this training (tailored to your organization’s policies), or if you need help reviewing and/or creating sexual harassment prevention and reporting policies, please contact me about possible consultations.

Breakdown of the Tax Bracket changes from the GOP House Tax Cuts and Jobs Act

[EDIT FROM MIKE 2/20/2018: This article was an analysis of the initial proposal for a tax reform plan that passed in late 2017. Some or all of this information may be outdated at the time of reading, but remains here for historical purposes.]

Quick version: the tax reform plan that purports to cut taxes for the middle class may actually cause many middle class taxpayers to see an increase in taxable income and possibly even up to a 10% tax rate jump.


This morning the House GOP announced its long-awaited tax reform plan – the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. It includes major tax code changes, including a complete overhaul of the tax brackets. The plan would create four tax ranges, down from the current seven brackets.

In addition, the TCJA would double the standard deduction, removing about $6,000 of taxable income from individuals and about $11,500 from married couples filing jointly.

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Thank you for a great #ATDALC session! (get the Handout and Power Point files here)

Thank you everyone who attended my session at the ATD Chapter Leaders Conference. The participants were awesome and contributed lots of great thinking points as we made our action plans to improve our ATD chapters’ sustainability. Here is the Power Point deck that I used for the presentation.

Here is the handout that gives you several tips to take away from the training.

Please contact me if you would like to talk more about any of the issues we discussed in the session. Thanks again for an awesome weekend of networking and learning!


New Birth Control Mandate Rules Open Door to Corporate Morality Rights

Today the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) issued two new final rules related to the the Affordable Care Act’s birth control mandate.

The ACA requires that birth control be 100% covered as a preventive service under every employer-offered health insurance plan. However, a recent Supreme Court case (Burwell v. Hobby Lobby) allowed closely-held companies (ex. family-run businesses) and non-profits to opt out of that mandate if they had religious objections to contraception. The first of the two new regulations simply promulgates that high court decision.

Opening the Floodgates

The second rule is rather interesting because it potentially opens the court door to an argument that publicly-traded, large corporations have moral beliefs. In this second rule, the DHHS allows entities to object and opt out of the mandate on the “basis of moral conviction which it not based in any particular religious belief. ” (DHHS news release 10-6-17)

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Gamification in the Classroom – Making Employee Benefits Fun

I recently completed my Level 1 Gamification Apprentice certification from Sententia, a world-renown consulting agency for training program gamification.

What is Gamification?

Think about all the fun we have playing board or card games with family and friends. Now think about those occasional training sessions where we struggled to keep our participants energized throughout the course. Imagine if we could combine our training tactics with entertaining game components to create a fun, engaging learning experience. That’s gamification!

Gamification takes the psychological and behavioral sciences surrounding game design (video, card, board games, etc.) and implements those ideas in training programs to enhance active learning. The main idea here is that we want to make learning more fun and engaging in the same way that rolling dice, drawing cards, or jumping over Donkey Kong’s barrels enthralls gamers.

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Feedback: Keys to the Manager’s Mind

I recently had a conversation with a young manager who was focused on improving his team’s work quality.

He was frustrated that some of his employees weren’t performing as well as he expected. I asked him what he was doing to help those employees perform better, and he responded that he just expected them to get better with more time and experience. He had assumed his team members knew that they were doing sub-standard work, but really it was him who failed to give them feedback.

This is a common scenario, especially with newer managers. “Why aren’t my employees performing well?” Because you haven’t told them that they’re not. Learning, even at its most basic level, requires feedback.

Many of us are afraid to say negative things to others, especially about work quality. Others may simply not know how to give constructive feedback. Regardless of which category applies, here are five tips that can help everyone provide good feedback.

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The FMLA and “Friends” – What Rachel Can Teach Us About Leave Transitions

You can learn a lot about human resources from binge-watching shows on Netflix (especially if you do it at work, since it’ll get you some one-on-one time with your HR department!). The Office is full of employment law violations, Scrubs and Grey’s Anatomy discuss modern problems in health insurance, and 30 Rock showcases the challenges of team leadership.

During a recent marathon of the late 90’s show Friends, I came across an episode that teaches us about the managerial pitfalls of parental leave benefits.

“Friends” screenshot from Netflix, 2017

In the real world, paid parental leave is one of the fastest-rising employee benefits. Organizations are fighting harder than ever to recruit and retain good employees who are growing families. For the rest of the working world, at least in the U.S., the Family and Medical Leave Act remains a strong, but complicated policy mandating a form of unpaid parental leave (see my crash course video on the FMLA).

While the law may appear simple, management must jump through many hoops in order to provide a fair and effective process (if they want to avoid litigation and prevent huge morale losses, that is). Policies must be established and relationships must be strengthened, in order to ensure a peaceful transition and continued productivity when the employee on leave returns to work. Friends teaches us the consequences when the process isn’t done correctly.

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A Concern about the Proposed American Health Care Act (Editorial)

Earlier this week in a rally in Nashville, President Trump reiterated a plea he has made throughout his push for the new health care law: “Insurers are fleeing, and nobody will have insurance.” I am concerned that this stance is dangerously overstated as a good reason to dismantle our current health insurance system.

The “fleeing” refers only to some insurance companies no longer offering specialized insurance plans on the state-run Exchanges (the ones that come with subsidies for lower-income folks). If a person earns too much to receive a tax subsidy, which is the majority of Americans, he or she can go directly to an insurance carrier and buy a plan during open enrollment. Outside of the Exchanges, there are many plan and carrier options everywhere.

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