Loans & Lines
Your Goals & Life Events
Investing For The Future
Managing Your Business
There will be situations and questions that arise (or you may
have other needs) that are not adequately addressed in the
preceding 9 Chapters, so where do you go for help? The
answer is embedded in the specific question. If you have just
been served with a notice from the Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission of a charge of discrimination against your company,
it is probably best to find an HR professional/specialist who
has dealt with the EEOC before, or a labor lawyer. The real
question is how do you find a "good" (reliable, successful,
knowledgeable, skilled, wise, not too expensive, etc.) one?
Ask your Professional/Personal Network
When you need a subject matter expert immediately, the best
approach is to heed the advice of a trusted colleague/friend.
Dust off your "network" and make phone calls or send e-mails
that briefly describe your situation/need and ask your
personal/professional network for a recommendation. Don't bother
your network if the issue/question is "cut and dried" (e.g.,
"What's the minimum wage for your state vs. the federal minimum
wage") - you can find that information online fairly simply. If
the issue is as important as "how to best defend yourself
against a charge of discrimination," you should probably develop
a relationship with a knowledgeable and skilled individual who
can work through the complexities of the situation with you. You
will need someone who is skilled and experienced, etc. and a
referral from a trusted source is the best way to find such a
resource. If your personal/professional network doesn't have a
recommendation, then you'll have to rely on more "public"
resources for the assistance you need.
Consult Specialist Organizations of Good
So who are the specialist organizations with a good
reputation? The last thing you want to do is to use your
internet search engine to find names of labor or employment lawyers. You will
amass a lot of names of individuals and law firms, but with no
There are two public groups/resources you might consider
contacting as a second-tier networking endeavor:
The Society for Human Resource Management is the
world's largest association devoted to HR management. It was
founded in 1948 and has over 500 affiliated chapters in the
United States. SHRM has more than 5,000 members and it is highly
likely that they have an SHRM Chapter organization in your area
and certainly in your state. SHRM may be contacted to ask for a
referral of both knowledgeable HR Professionals as well as legal
counsel for labor and employment lawyer matters.
The Small Business Administration is a government-sponsored resource that focuses on small business. The SBA might
be able to give you names of people who might potentially help
you with your specific need or the SBA might provide names of
other small business owners in your area who you may wish to
contact (either as potential referral agents or to meet your
need). The SBA also has a group called SCORE (Service Corps of
Retired Executives) who might be able to assist you.
Enter a Business Arrangement with a Professional Employer
While this alternative might not meet your immediate need, a
third option is to preemptively enter into a business
arrangement with a PEO.
The National Association of Professional Employers
Organization is an association that is in business to make
its members successful. NAPEO was formed in 1984 and like most
professional associations, is the advocate for it members in
government affairs, provides education and training programs,
has a Code of Ethics and a number of best practices for its
member companies. NAPEO has nearly 400 PEO members operating in
all 50 states, and represents approximately 91 percent of the
revenues of the $68 billion/year PEO industry. Its members are
small businesses (in most cases) and their service/product is to
"do it for you" when it comes to the management of people (human
resources), employee benefits, unemployment claims, payroll, and
workers' compensation. The way PEO's do this is that they become
co-employers of your people, so that both the PEO and you
would have an employment relationship with your workers.
Under the co-employer arrangement, you and the PEO share and
allocate responsibilities and liabilities for your people. The
PEO assumes much of the responsibility and liability for the
business of employment, such as risk management, human resource
management, and payroll and employee tax compliance. You would
retain responsibility for and manage product development and
production, business operations, marketing, sales, and service.
As a co-employer, the PEO will often provide a complete human
resource and benefit package for your "employees" (if this is
something you want and can afford--see Chapter 5). Typically, the
PEOs charge for doing payroll and providing HR services, etc.,
is between two and six percent of your gross payroll costs (not
including the cost of the benefits you might choose to offer
through the PEO). Your specific business arrangement must be
negotiated depending on the type of your business and the level
of risk that would be assumed by the PEO as a co-employer.
Under a PEO, there are some advantages that have collateral
benefits for a small business owner. In most cases, the PEO
provides access to health insurance, retirement savings plans,
and other critical employee benefits for the employees of a
small business client--features that are usually not affordable
from either a cost or an administrative expertise perspective.
Collaterally, the PEO would be responsible for the
aforementioned EEO claim and would have the expertise to manage
the investigation and potential hearing and lawsuit if the
claim were to proceed to those levels.
This third alternative as a source of "additional HR
resources" is a drastic one and may not make sense for some
small businesses. The beauty of this alternative, however, is that it
relieves the small business owner from a great deal of
"administrivia" as well as almost all of the human resource
management aspects of having employees. The small business owner
remains the leader of the organization and determines who does
what, etc., but doesn't have to be concerned with most HR issues
not related to work performance.
There are a number of government agencies that have good
information you can access online. The Department of
Labor will not only have information about laws and
regulations, but one of its departments, the Bureau of Labor
Statistics, has information about prevailing wages for over
400 common occupations.
The Occupational Safety & Health Administration
has information and a list of available training for workplace
The Social Security Administration has information not
only about social security benefits, but also has a way for you
as an employer to verify the social security number of
individuals to whom you make an offer of employment-something
that helps greatly when meeting your obligation to make certain
any prospective employee has the legal right to work in the
One website that is very useful is www.bpubs.com. It is a search engine
for business publications and has a category just for human
resource related articles. While it is not designed to provide
pinpointed answers for specific "at the moment" questions, it is
such a thorough compendium of articles that doing a focused
sub-search usually gets close to the subject at hand. Further,
because each article lists the author(s), it is possible that
these authors could be used as sources when trying to find
specific human resource experts to assist you in addressing
specific situations (assuming your question isn't answered in
the article itself).
General Internet Search
As a last resort, use your search engine and see what you
get. You will have to thoroughly "vet" anyone contacted using
this method as you will not have the advantage of "inside"
information from a neutral (or trusted) source. When "vetting"
someone who might be asked to provide you with good consultative
advice, here are some questions
you should ask:
Please don't underestimate your need for good help and advice
when you confronted with a difficult and unique situation. While
an ounce of prevention in terms of your HR processes is the
least expensive way to semi-insure you don't find yourself with
a potential problem, likewise, getting good help as soon as the
gravity of the situation becomes apparent is also wise as the
right advocate might be able to stem the tide before it rises to
the height of a disaster.
Securities and Insurance products are:
Not FDIC insured. May lose value. No bank guarantee. Not a deposit. Not insured by any federal or state government agency.