Monday, July 14, 2014

Dilbert on a Monday

This one made me laugh. Hoping that it helps you get over your "Case of the Mondays!"

Friday, July 11, 2014

Astron Activities!

In this issue of Astronology we will look into the activities some of the Astron staff will be participating in over the next few months.  We hope to see you at one or several of these events!

ASAE Annual Conference
August 9-12, 2014 Nashville, Tennessee
Join the Astron team at the Music City Center in Nashville, Tennessee as they participate in the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) annual conference! Early registration ends July 9th 2014! 
Astron will be in booth #235, so please be sure to stop by and say hello!

CNY SHRM Survey Debrief
On August 21st, Astron National Director Jennifer Loftus will conduct her annual survey debrief to the Central New York SHRM (CNY SHRM) chapter in Syracuse, NY.  Attendance is limited to survey participants.  If you want to hear about the latest trends in compensation, participate today!  The survey can be found at

Green Mountain Payroll Meeting
On September 10th, Astron team member Michael Maciekowich will be a guest speaker at the Green Mount Payroll Association one day conference in Burlington, VT! Come here him speak on designing an effective total rewards strategy. Sign up soon, there is limited spacing for this event!

CEA Survey Debrief
On September 16th, Jennifer Loftus will conduct her annual salary survey debrief to the Cement Employers Association during their annual gathering.  This year’s event, limited to CEA members, will be held in Savannah, GA.

New York State SHRM Conference
Have you wondered how you can engage your employees in a new and innovative way? One avenue organizations are exploring is Gamification.  Astronology discussed the growing popularity of gamification in a previous article. On September 28-30, 2014 Michael Maciekowich will be a guest speaker in Buffalo, NY at the New York State Society for Human Resource Management’s annual conference. Michael Maciekowich will be speaking on Gamification and the use of it in Human Resources. Register today to hear him speak!

2014 Upstate NY Healthcare HR Conference
From October 8 – 10, The American Society for Healthcare Human Resources Association (ASHHRA) Upstate New York Healthcare Human Resource chapter will be hosting its annual conference. The Astron team will be in attendance and look forward to seeing many of our friends in the Healthcare industry! The conference will be located at the Woodcliff Resort & Spa in Fairport, NY.

Wisconsin State SHRM Conference
Looking for a way to gain more knowledge on HR topics and policies? The Wisconsin State Society of Human Resource Management will be holding its conference at the Monona Terrace Convention Center in Madison, Wisconsin. The conference will be held October 15-17, 2014. In addition to exhibiting, Michael Maciekowich will present “Gamification in Human Resource Management: An Introduction.” He looks forward to seeing you!

As you can see Astron will be on the road several times throughout the summer and into the beginning of fall. Will you be near any of these locations? Consider stopping by and saying hello to the Astron team! For future updates on Astron’s travels, check out our Astron Roadshow page!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Six Months on Capitol Hill – Five Potential Laws You Need to Know

In the last issue of Astronology, we explored three pieces of legislation with the potential to impact Human Resources: the Achieving Less Excess in Regulation and Requiring Transparency Act (ALERRT), the Family and Medical Leave Inclusion Act, and the Department of Commerce and the Workforce Consolidation Act.  Continuing our review of Human Resources impacting legislation being considered and written on Capitol Hill, Astronology highlights five more bills circulating in Washington, D.C.

4. Equal Employment for All Act of 2013
Introduced in the Senate on December 17, 2013, this bill would amend the Fair Credit and Reporting Act (FCRA) to prohibit employers from requiring credit history of potential employees as part of the job application process. Under the law, employers cannot use consumer credit reports of prospective and current employees for hiring purposes or for taking negative action. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass), states “A bad credit rating is far more often the result of unexpected medical costs, unemployment, economic downturns, or other bad breaks than it is reflection on an individual’s character or abilities; families have not fully recovered from the 2008 financial crisis, and too many Americans are still searching for jobs. This is about basic fairness --- let people compete on their merits, not on whether they already have enough money to pay all their bills.” She adds, “It makes no sense to make it harder for people to get jobs because of a system of credit reporting that has no correlation with job performance and that can be riddled with inaccuracies.”

5. Family and Medical Leave Enhancement Act of 2014
This bill, presented in February 2014 by Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), would amend the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to cover employers with 25 or more employees, lowering the current 50 employee threshold. “No one should have to fear that they’ll lose their job if they need to take medical leave or care for a family member; the landmark Family and Medical Leave Act sought to end that insecurity by guaranteeing 12 weeks of unpaid leave. Unfortunately, nearly 40% of workers are not covered by that law because they work in businesses with fewer than 50 employees…Every American deserves the rights afforded by the Family and Medical Leave Act and this legislation would help us reach that goal.” The amendment also seeks to add reasons for which FMLA leave can be taken, including:
  •  participating in a child or grandchild’s community program or school activity,
  •  meeting routine medical needs for one’s self, child, spouse, or grandchild, and
  •  attending to the needs of the employee’s elderly relatives, including nursing / group home visits.
6. Paycheck Fairness Act
A bill that continues to make its appearance in Congress is the Paycheck Fairness Act. With its reintroduction, the bill was intended to shrink the pay gap between men and women. The sponsors (Senator Barbara Mikulski, D-Md.; Representative Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn.) believe that because women earn 77 cents for every dollar earned by a man for equal work, there must be corrective action taken to fix the disparity that can cost women over the cost of their careers approximately $434,000 on average. In April 2014, the bill was once again outvoted for further discussion from the Republicans and one Independent present.  According to the Washington Post, Republicans support equal pay for equal work.  However, the bill would increase civil lawsuits.  To the Republicans, the bill is unnecessary because discrimination based on gender is already illegal.

7. The Social Networking Online Protection Act (SNOPA)
A reintroduced bill on February 6, 2013, SNOPA is designed to protect employees from divulging their personal information on their social network profiles. It would prohibit institutions such as places of employment and educational institutions from requiring users to relinquish their log-in information (user name and / or password, etc.).  The law would also protect employees from being punished for refusing any such request.  Although the federal government has been slow in this area, states have already begun motioning on creating such laws.  Maryland, for instance, is the first state to prohibit employers from requesting / accessing social media passwords or gaining access to the social media accounts of prospective and current employees. We have yet to hear anything else on this law; sometime in 2014 it could reappear given the activity at the state level.

8. Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA)
The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) is a bill that would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of protected classes for employment discrimination prohibitions. Previously introduced, the ENDA would make it illegal for an employer with 15 or more employees to:

1. Refuse to hire or fire any individual due to their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. It would also make it illegal for an employer to discriminate with respect to their compensation and terms of employment.

2. To classify, limit or segregate applicants or employee in any manner that would deny an individual employment because of a person’s actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.

The ENDA was passed in the Senate and awaits a vote by the House. As of current, 21 states have passed laws that prohibit employment discrimination based on sexual orientation, while 19 states also prohibit gender identity.  We shall see, perhaps in 2014, the House’s response to the ENDA.

What other potential laws have you on your toes?  Write to Astronology! We’d like to hear your input on current Human Resource laws and possible future legislation.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Tips from a Job Interview Pro

The Wall Street Journal had a very interesting Q&A last week with Sofia Faruqi who went on over 100 job interviews. I found her answers really interesting for not just job seekers but interviewers as well. You want to make sure that the job seeker feels comfortable with the questions you are asking but that you actually challenge them to answer important questions. Here are a few parts of the Q&A that I thought would be helpful for Human Resources and all who are interviewing to take notice of:
WSJ: Over the course of 100 interviews, you’ve been asked a lot of questions. Which ones caught you by surprise?
Faruqi: The ones that caught me by surprise were the ones that were either really good or really bad. Some of the best that I’ve been asked were: “What values did you grow up with? What makes you proud of who you are?” Also, “What’s the most exaggerated point on your résumé?”
WSJ: That last one is bold.
Faruqi It’s a good question, because all résumés have some level of exaggeration. It’s really good to just ask that outright. In terms of the worst questions, one was “Your resume says you speak French. So, let’s do this interview in French.” Another horrible one was, “Will you go out with me?” That only happened once, so it’s a very rare thing to happen, but not great. You always have to keep your composure, no matter what happens....
WSJ: The rest of your interviews would have been by phone or video. What are the challenges of those mediums?
Faruqi: In a phone interview it helps to remove distractions and put yourself in a position where you are focused. Right now, my office door is closed, so there are going to be no interruptions, my computer screen is blank, so there are no pop-ups or e-mails or other distractions. This way, I can focus on our conversation. 
That is some good advice there for both interviewers and their interviewees. For those who do a lot of interviews, do you have questions you try to use to surprise the candidate or do you try to keep the questions very basic? When you conduct a phone interview, do you make sure to eliminate all distractions as well or do you think that's only a requirement for the job seeker? Just a few things to think about the next time you have a job seeker at the other end of the table or the phone call.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Apex Award Winners Once Again

Some good news to share on this Friday: Astron Solutions has won four 2014 Apex Awards for Publication Excellence!  This blog, our website (, and Skylines by Astron each won one award! Congrats to everyone at Astron and all the Apex Award Winners for 2014!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Six Months on Capitol Hill – Three Potential Laws You Need to Know

The first half of 2014 is almost in the books!  In this two part series, Astronology will examine eight current hot topics from our federal government that directly affect Human Resources.  In part 1, we will cover three federal bills and regulations currently being considered.

As in 2013, we’ve noticed a political impasse due to a predominately Republican U.S. House of Representatives and a predominately Democratic U.S. Senate.   However, that political division does not mean a complete lack of legislative activity.  Of what laws and bills should Human Resources practitioners be aware?

1. Achieving Less Excess in Regulation and Requiring Transparency Act (ALERRT)
The House passed this collection of four previous bills in March 2014. The compilation includes the following:

The All Economic Regulations are Transparent Act (ALERT)
This bill promotes transparency by requiring the Office of Information Affairs to publish details about pending rules & regulations and related cost benefit information online.  According to the bill’s introducer, George Holding, “When faced with new regulations, small business owners must consider how it will affect every aspect of their business, such as workers’ wages and hours, hours of operation, and daily costs and processes. In order for our economy to grow and businesses to prosper, we should take steps to ensure that they are given sufficient notices of regulation, and have time to adjust their business practices in anticipation of regulatory changes. This bill increases government transparency by requiring the administration to fully detail the effects of regulations and make things easier on small business owners.”

The Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act
This bill enhances the Regulatory Flexibility Act by eliminating possible loopholes that agencies have used to avoid compliancy, requiring initial and final regulatory analyses to consider the costs new rules would impose on business indirectly.

The Regulatory Accountability Act
This bill promotes transparency with early engagement by stakeholders in the rulemaking process, including businesses and nonprofits.  This will result in increasing public input.

The Sunshine for Regulatory Decrees and Settlements Act
This bill would prevent secret settlement deals by making it law for an agency seeking to enter a consent decree or settlement agreement to publish it in the Federal Register and online 60 days after it is filed in court. Details in the publishing would have to include the basis for the decree or settlement agreement, description of the terms, and whether it includes attorney fees.

2. Family and Medical Leave Inclusion Act
A bill that failed to pass in the last session of Congress, the Family and Medical Leave Inclusion Act would extend to employees unpaid leave to care for a(n): 

  •   Same sex spouse or partner
  •   Parent in law
  •   Adult child        
  •   Sibling
  •   Grandchild
  •   Grandparent
As of July 8, 2013, this bill had been referred to the Subcommittee on Workforce Protections. At some point in 2014, we may hear more.  Stay tuned, as passage of this law could have great impacts on your organization.

3. Department of Commerce and the Workforce Consolidation Act
Introduced in December 2013, we look forward to hearing more on this bill designed to combine the Department of Labor, the Department of Commerce, and the Small Business Administration. The hybrid departments would be named the Department of Commerce and Workforce. Proposed by Richard Burr (R-North Carolina), and co-sponsored by Senator Daniel Coats (R-Indiana), the Department of Commerce and Workforce would still have its independent functions of the departments but also effectively combine their administrative offices. Burr says, “Duplicative programs cost the federal government staggering amounts of money every year; The president has proposed merging and consolidating federal agencies several times over his two terms, and this bill advances that proposal. Combining offices with similar functions within these two agencies is a common-sense approach that reduces wasteful spending and would streamline our approach to comprehensive economic policy."

In the next issue of Astronology, we will discuss five legislative hot topics in Human Resources, including the Paycheck Fairness Act, the Social Networking Online Protection Act, and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Part-Time Employees – Keys to Organizational Success

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in August 2013 that, due to economic reasons, 7.6 million people were working part-time.  Unfortunately it’s not very clear why the recent growth in part-time work. It’s theorized that perhaps since the economy still isn’t as strong as it could be, organizations simply don’t need as much labor. Others think that with the passing of the Affordable Care Act, some organizations are trying to avoid providing benefits to employees. Regardless of your organization’s circumstances with respect to part-time workers, the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ discoveries do indicate that all should be keenly aware of this growing staffing option.

Identifying the Part-Time Employee

The first step in learning how to manage part-time employees is knowing what exactly classifies a person as part-time.  For example, a bevy of recent lawsuits have proliferated where interns have sued former places of employment for violating minimum wage laws. A perfect example of employee misclassification includes the Fox Searchlight Pictures lawsuit in June 2013. In this lawsuit, former interns of the film Black Swan claimed their work on the film should have classified them as employees, not unpaid interns. The Cal Chamber, a not-for-profit business advocate and human resources compliance resource, listed in its “Top 10 Things Employers Do to Get Sued” whitepaper as #5, “Let Employees Decide Which Hours and How Many They Want to Work Each Day.” Why? The potential lawsuits include the issue of back pay on overtime and violation of state specific laws.

So what classifies a worker as part-time? The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does not define what constitutes a part-time employee. As an employer, you generally define a part-time worker in your employee handbook. Traditionally speaking, part-time workers are employees who work less than 40 hours a week. Some organizations lower that threshold, to working less than 30 – 36 hours a week.

How Can Employers Support their Part-Time Employees? lists 7 tips on how to manage and support part-time workers:
·         Write a proper job description: “No position should be treated ad hoc.” An employee’s ability to support the organization should not be weighted by how often they work in the office, but what he / she contributes to the organization. Creating a proper job description of the position will help clarify why the employee is present, and will help with negating opinions that the employee is “less than” everyone else because he / she works less hours. It’s also a very easy way to help the employee and the employer to be on the same page when it comes to the commitment the employee should have to the organization.

·         Assign part-timers projects, rather than giving the projects to departments or teams: Look for projects that are straightforward and task oriented.

·         Avoid treating a part-timer like a second class employee: Take steps to ensure that all employees share this attitude in order to avoid division between full and part-time employees.

·         Gather contact information: Emergencies occur during off hours at times.  Having a means to contact a part-time employee to answer the emergency is important. Have ways to keep in contact with staff members either via e-mail or telephone.

·         Schedule regular meetings: Steve Durie, CEO of Secure Search says, “We include our part-time staff in our strategy sessions and our team meetings and they come up with some great ideas.” also suggests scheduling weekly, biweekly, or monthly “check-in meetings with part-time employees” in order to facilitate communication and status updates on projects.

·         Understand relevant employment laws: Use the US Department of Labor’s website to get an understanding of relevant compliance laws for your state. Also make sure you are consistent with hiring practices. Don’t tread into dangerous lawsuit waters by asking applicants about their personal circumstances or personal reasons for wanting part-time employment.

·         Keep in mind that managers can work part-time: At Insight Performance, a Boston based HR consulting firm, a senior director that manages a team of employees works part-time. According to Insight’s CEO, the arrangement is extremely positive, as the part-time work arrangement satisfies not only the company’s needs but also the senior director’s.

Do you have any tips on managing part-time employees?  What approaches have you found successful?  Write to Astronology!  We’d love to share your experiences and tips on part-time employment!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Astronology: Integrated Social Media

IBM’s blog makes clear for us social networking’s overall effects: the world currently spends 110 billion minutes on social networks and blog sites per month…which equates to 22% of all time spent online. We live in a social media age. Social networking, in particular, has been at the forefront of this trend.  Whether you’re using Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, or myriad other social networking sites for personal or business use, you simply can’t escape the dominance of social media and its influence on the masses. Since the rise of social media, organizations in all sectors have been trying to find ways to use it to better themselves.   

With the popularity of social media, many organizations have been curious on whether one aspect, social networking, could be used to better their functionality. Social networking can be confusing with its various forms. To clarify, there are three types of social networks:

-Public social networks: such as Facebook or Twitter, which can be used to make contact with customers and potential customers.

-Social extranets: such as customer communities, which allow for deeper communication and collaboration with customers and even private communication between business partners.  An example of a social extranet includes a message board community designed solely for an organization’s customers.

-Employee networks: an internal organization communication device, such as a company designed instant messaging system / video conferencing community.

It’s been noted that although employee networks have made the least progress in terms of popularity, they offer the greatest potential in business value. Some of IBM’s customers have noted success in self-tailored social collaborative / social network devices for their businesses. For instance, the electronics manufacturer Celestica has noticed a “$40 million savings opportunity.”  VCC, a construction firm, noticed a 40% year over year increase in new business due to its IBM created social device.

What are some tools organizations could use to test the waters of social networking in their businesses? Kurt Kaufer, an associate at e-Boost Consulting, lists the following:
  • Yammer: A social networking service that focuses on businesses. Only employees with the same e-mail domain of an organization can join their specific network.  David Sacks, the founder of Yammer explains, “If Twitter asks, ‘what are you doing?’ Yammer asks, ‘What are you working on?”
  • Digsby: An instant messaging (IM) application. Besides supporting the IM protocols of AIM, MSN, Yahoo, Google Talk, ICQ, Jabber, and Facebook Chat, Digsby also has a feature that alerts the user of e-mail notifications and alerts from MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
  • Skype: A software that allows users to make telephone calls and video calls over the internet. Other useful features include an instant messenger and file transfer. This is extremely helpful for organizations that may not be able to verbally describe changes that need to be made to project documents or other work related items.  If items need to be physically seen, a video call can clear confusion.
Kaufer also listed podcasts and wiki websites as useful social media tools to help with organizational collaborative progress.

Has your organization found ways to use social networking to better itself? Do you see areas where your organization could possibly use some of the tools listed? Share with us your thoughts on social media and its impact on your organization!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Gaining Competitive Edge through Learning

Organizations today are faced with an ever changing global business environment that requires a competitive edge. A major strategy many organizations have adopted is turning their organizations into “learning organizations.” This approach creates a major advantage for organizations that can learn and adopt to change faster than their competitors. Despite much research focused on the return on investment for learning organizations, some organizations are hesitant to adopt this structure. This is partly due to the fact that a strategy focused on learning within organizations changes the dynamics within every part of that organization.  However, this change is one that should be embraced and not feared.

Organizations create a competitive advantage by initiating a learning organization structure.  The benefits of the learning organization structure include the following:
  • Attracting and retaining quality employees with similar values, 
  • Enjoying higher revenue growth and employee performance, 
  • Providing better response to consumer needs, and thus retaining them, and 
  • Having a better chance at becoming or maintaining leader status in the industry.
Famous organizational theorist Peter Senge, who wrote The Fifth Discipline, defined learning organizations as "Organizations where people continually expand their capacity to create the results they truly desire, where new and expansive patterns of thinking are nurtured, where collective aspiration is set free, and where people are continually learning to learn together." Organizations start the journey towards becoming a learning organization by understanding what this structure actually is.  Learning organizations are identified by the following characteristics:
  • A “pancake” organizational structure in which power is evenly distributed based on knowledge in employees,
  • Organizational purpose and goals reflect employee values,
  • Goals allow for voluntary cooperation in participating in organizational learning,
  • Employees share knowledge and make more decisions with minimum management supervision, and
  • A tight knit community of learners who control and conform to the organization because they hold the same views and goals as the organization.
Essentially a learning organization will support a competitive edge because employees:
  • Have the capacity for change,
  • Can work across boundaries with the free flow of information and values,
  • Have the ability to learn rapidly, and
  • Have the ability to engage in “systems thinking.”  Systems thinking includes diagnosis and fundamental culture change as part of the organization’s ongoing management process.
Developing and maintaining a competitive organization requires making changes that generate innovation and constant improvements. Learning is what produces this competitive edge. When an organization develops into a competitive learning organization, employees succeed by solving problems in an efficient, constructive manner. Although there is no set formula, organizations should know that they need to maintain a “forward thinking” perspective in which opportunities and potential vulnerabilities can be foreseen.

There will be times that an industry will be faced with changing goals such as creating more cost effective processes during a slow period, or increasing up customer service during busy times. In these cases, organizations must have a plan in place to change learning strategies to direct employees.  Employees must develop skills to make them well-rounded workers with the ability to understand and solve potential problems that exist in a world of change.  “Technology, equipment, and supplies can be duplicated,” comments Astron’s National Director Jennifer Loftus.  “People are the one organizational aspect that can’t be copied.  Structures and systems that allow organizations to tap into and enhance the power of those people are the keys to growth and success in the future.  HR is strategically poised with the requisite skills and expertise to bring learning structures into their organizations to make positive change for all.”

Monday, April 21, 2014

Guest Post: 5 Biggest Employee Complaints

According to many experts, workplace dissatisfaction is at an all time high, and that should be a concern for employers – and human resources professionals – everywhere.

Although the worst of the Great Recession is over, many are still feeling its effects, and though the economy is improving, its recovery is far from complete. With the job market still shaky in many sectors, many employees feel that they’re “stuck” at their current jobs, and many aren’t happy. This should be a matter of concern for employers, even if they feel they have a captive labor pool. It should definitely be a concern for employers in industries where the job market is improving, as those disgruntled workers will be more likely to jump ship.

What makes employees unhappy? Over the years there have been many workplace surveys and studies about this very subject. Here are five of the biggest complaints that emerge in survey after survey.

1.   Super stress. Toiling for one’s daily bread has always been stressful to some extent, but during the past few years, on-the-job stress has gone through the roof. In a trend that actually began years before the latest economic meltdown, increasing numbers of employees have been asked to do more; especially in industries racked with layoffs. Whether or not the extra duties include a raise in salary (and often they don’t), being asked to do the job of two people is a significant stressor for the average worker. In addition, many employees have family obligations, such as childcare or eldercare challenges, which are exacerbated if there’s no workplace support (e.g., company policies to accommodate caregivers, or at least an understanding boss). Office politics are also a frequent cause of unnecessary stress among employees.
2.   Sluggish salaries. Lack of timely raises and salary inequities (real or perceived) are major causes of employee dissatisfaction. Gender wage disparity still exists, and many companies are beset by budget crunches that preclude regular salary increases. Over time this can have a devastating effect on morale.
3.   Shrinking benefits. Due to market forces largely beyond their control, the trend over the past decade or so has been for employers to increasingly offer fewer benefits for staffers. Health insurance (or lack thereof) has been a big area of concern. In the US, the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, has attempted to address some of these problems, but it remains to be seen how this will work out. Many workers have also seen reductions in other benefits like stock or bonus programs and retirement plans. Not surprisingly, this has been a significant cause of employee dissatisfaction.
4.   Bad bosses.  Some of the top employee grievances concern bosses who are arrogant, incompetent, or – much worse – both.  Workers can't relate to bosses who don’t communicate to employees about what is expected of them, or treat employees disrespectfully (humiliating or bullying them, not sticking up for them, or disregarding the fact that they have private lives).  And morale suffers among employees working for bosses who over-manage good employees, as well as bosses who under-manage problem situation on the job.
5.   Jittery job security. Perhaps the worse stress for workers is knowing that their jobs might not be there tomorrow. Though the situation has stabilized in some workplaces, others are still in a state of flux, with many employees worried that they will be the next one to get the dreaded pink slip. And with good jobs in short supply, it’s a pretty scary situation for some.

While employers don’t have the power to control global forces or local factors that cause such turmoil in the job market, and while they may not always have the authority to shape or change policies that create employee frustration in the workplace; they are far from powerless. Bosses still have the power to influence the corporate culture and make it more pleasant and productive for staffers at all levels. HR departments can help to ensure that an efficient, confidential, and equitable system is in place to handle grievances. Bosses can set the tone for open communication and fairness, and they can work to minimize the negative influence of office politics. And sometimes, little things like a sympathetic ear and a little bit of respect can work wonders.

Author Byline:
This guest post is contributed by Rebecca Gray, who writes for She welcomes your comments at her email: