Navigating Election Season in the Workplace

We are in the final chapter of one of the most polarizing political campaigns in US history. Talk in the workplace is likely to include politics and may provoke strong opinions and heated discussion. Workplace conversations regarding candidates, propositions and the prominent political issues can be engaging, but can also negatively impact morale and productivity, as well as create potential liability for employers.

According to survey conducted this summer by the Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM), 26% of responding human resources professionals reported an increase in employee political concern and expression this election season.

Employers must be aware of potential legal implications of mishandling of politics in the office. In general, employers should remain neutral.  Managers and supervisors are considered representatives of the company, and as such, should not share their own political leanings or try to influence employees.  Moreover, managers should watch for signs that employees may be uncomfortable with political discussions.  Because campaigns involve topics such as race, religion, gender, and personal rights, employers must be ready to intervene, if necessary, to reduce the risk of perceived discrimination or harassment.

Further, even if employees are involved in campaigns, demonstrations or other political events outside of work, these activities could be protected under Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act. Section 7 protects multiple activities related to labor, employment and working conditions.  With the economy, jobs, and immigration reform as topics of many campaigns, it would not be difficult to make a connection between an election and its potential impact on the workplace and employees.

On election days, employers have specific requirements that vary by state. With polls generally opening early and closing late, as well as an increasing number of people voting by mail, voting leave is not commonly requested. On the other hand, employers must be aware of and comply with time off to vote laws.  Voting leave laws vary by state and the majority of states protect employees’ right to take time off from work to vote if they are unable to do so based on their work schedule. For example, California law provides an employee two hours of paid leave at the start or end of a shift if the employee does not have sufficient time outside of working hours to vote.


While employees should generally free to express their views, some people have a visceral response to issues and candidates in the current election. Employers must strike a balance between employees expressing a point of view and offending others. Businesses must be aware of potential risks and requirements and take steps to ensure a professional workplace that supports a variety of views and opinions.  If you experience challenges in the area, please contact our office.

Amy Kelemen, SPHR – Director of Professional Services, Senior HR Consultant

Disclaimer: Some information contained herein has been abridged from numerous sources and may be protected by various copyright laws. Such information should not be construed as consulting or legal advice. Please contact our office for specific advice and/or referrals.

Bay Area Human Resources Services

6 Ways to Ensure A Chaotic Payroll

Payroll is thankless job in most organizations. Employees simply expect accurate and timely payroll. Like any other process, it takes good technology and coordinated efforts to consistently deliver on this expectation. The Payroll team hates to receive the dreaded phone call on payday from irate employees demanding answers as to why their pay is not correct, or worse, why they did not get paid at all.

Frequently, we find that organizations devote too little time and resources to the payroll function. Do you know if your company’s payroll department is running smoothly? More importantly is it running efficiently? Does your payroll system suffer from any of these symptoms?

  1. Antiquated TimekeepingPaper Time Cards/Tracking in Excel—In 2016 there is no good reason to have your employees use paper timecards or excel spreadsheets. Electronic timekeeping saves time and ensures more accurate records and reports. Electronic timekeeping will be your best defense in the event of a wage and hour claim. An electronic time keeping system will automatically calculate overtime, double time, and meal break regulations. Match good time and attendance technology with a solid HRIS, benefits and payroll system and top quality payroll can be consistently delivered.
  2. Direct Supervisors who don’t take responsibility for reporting/approving employees’ time—if you assign supervisors to approve time for their employees, make sure they do it, and if they don’t, hold them accountable. Management and administration are a team sport. Supervisors who aren’t held accountable will continue to abuse the system. Make sure you provide and set guidelines for them to follow, and put submission due dates in writing. Processing additional payrolls for late submissions is timely and costly.
  3. “Too Many hands in the pot”—don’t provide too many supervisors, managers and employees access to the payroll system. If you have multiple people entering information, it often leads to chaos and confusion. Payroll needs to be accurate and confidential. Payroll is also a system which needs appropriate financial controls – including a clear audit trail for changes. These factors demand limited and controlled access to payroll.
  4. No back-up for your payroll person—Life happens! If your main payroll person can rely on someone else, this can reduce stress and provide a proper work/life balance. Having only one payroll person is setting your company up for a disaster—if the worst should happen, who would run payroll? Lack of back up would raise concern for any auditor.
  5. Unclear procedures for processing payroll—make sure the back-up, or other people in the department know the RIGHT procedures for running payroll. Documenting passwords, work flows processes and procedures is key so all involved can have a guide to follow. The absence of this documentation leads to confusion, errors and risk.
  6. Underutilizing your payroll system’s capabilities—Payroll vendors showcase all the flashy capabilities of a system during the product demo process. Employers often invest in software/modules without realizing the extensive implementation time and effort required. It is very difficult to implement a payroll system with the incumbent payroll team who must keep payroll going while implementing. Worse, clear work flows are not established before new software implementation. The result is that the system never works as planned. We recommend planning your implementation, getting some outside help, and rolling out the system in stages.


Payroll can represent 70% or more of an organization’s total costs. Yet, it is often a neglected administrative function. It is reasonable for employees to expect quality payroll in exchange for their efforts. Running an efficient, timely, and accurate payroll should be a clear and consistent process supported by reliable technology. If your organization exhibits any of the above symptoms, consider a payroll technology assessment to learn your options and help streamline work flows. ABD SharedHR is a full-service HR consulting and outsourcing firm that can help you with your payroll needs from assessing process and technology to serving as payroll backup for your internal team.

Candace Emmer, MA –HR Consultant

Disclaimer: Some information contained herein has been abridged from numerous sources and may be protected by various copyright laws. Such information should not be construed as consulting or legal advice. Please contact our office for specific advice and/or referrals.

Bay Area Human Resources Services

Onboarding v. Orientation – Both Key in Talent Retention

In a highly competitive labor market, employers need to have systems to attract the right talent in the door and then to bring them into the fold and get them adding value as soon as possible.  Many organizations have developed onboarding experiences for new hires, only to find mixed results. One challenge seems to be confusion related to the terms “onboarding” and “orientation”.  So, what’s the difference?  Recognizing the distinction could mean the difference between consistently successful new hire experiences and high turnover.

Onboarding is a process of transition between recruitment, selection, new hire documentation and getting the new hire ready to work and perform in the position. Onboarding is the bridge between the résumé screening, interviewing, and selection of a job candidate and employment. Onboarding is document and data intensive. The best onboarding systems are automated and deliver documents and information via a portal to new hires, administrators and managers. Good onboarding tracks applicant data, distributes payroll, benefits and HR information, as well as providing documents and information to employees such as required passwords, payroll options, benefits choices. A good HR platform, one part of which is onboarding, gets employees informed and working quickly while tracking key HR information.


  • Onboarding is a process that begins upon acceptance of the job.
  • Onboarding allows information to flow through several different channels from the organization to the new employee and from the new employee to the organization.
  • Onboarding delivers organizational overview information to a diverse group of new employees with consistency.
  • Onboarding reflects best practices when it is facilitated by HR in close partnership with key stakeholders, the hiring manager, payroll, IT and facilities.
  • Onboarding is integrative and must change as policies and documents / compliance change.
  • Onboarding delivers functional and role-specific information to the individual employee in a just-in-time model.
  • Onboarding is important for both newly hired and newly promoted employees.

Orientation, on the other hand, is a series of events designed to introduce the new hire to the culture of the organization and make the employee an effective contributor as soon as possible. The best automated systems tailor the onboarding experience to the position and can include videos, training tools and case studies.


  • Employee orientation is a series of events designed to acclimate the employee to the position.
  • Orientation is typically a one-way flow of information to the employee.
  • Orientation can either be a “one-size-fits-all program” or can be custom to the position.
  • Orientation is usually owned and led by the human resources function.
  • Orientation provides exposure and view to the organization’s culture.
  • Orientation is important for both newly hired and newly promoted employees.


Employers should construct both a tactical onboarding and strategic orientation program. Objectives should be defined and the program should include the specific roles and responsibilities of all the participants.

In our experience with this important process, ABD SharedHR has found that the best practices use the “three-legged stool” model for designing both onboarding and orientation. The hiring manager, the HR partner, and the new employee are all key participants in the process and have specific roles that are played out in their action items. Technology is a critical component in this process. While “onboarding” is a key feature of an integrated applicant tracking / HRIS / payroll and benefits platform; “orientation” is now becoming its own software specialty. Systems such as WorkTap ( ) offer a highly interactive customizable integration experience for new hires. In a highly competitive market for talent, it is more important than ever to upgrade both your onboarding and orientation processes. The goal is to standardize, streamline, track, and coordinate every step of both the onboarding and the orientation process to make new hires feel valued, supported and socialize quickly into the organization.

Saul Macias, MBA, PHR –Vice President of HR Services

Disclaimer: Some information contained herein has been abridged from numerous sources and may be protected by various copyright laws. Such information should not be construed as consulting or legal advice. Please contact our office for specific advice and/or referrals.

Bay Area Human Resources Services