The Employers' Association
  An E-newsletter for TEA Members
TopMay 11, 2017 Volume 37, Issue 7
In This Issue
Upcoming Programs
Be sure to register early to receive early bird pricing for these program.


15 - MIOSHA Construction -
       Part 45 Fall Protection
16 - Train the Trainer
       Techniques that Wow
18 - Core Leadership Skills
22 - 2017 Leadership/Human
       Resources Conference &
       Annual Meeting
24 - Workplace Bullies:
       How to Handle this
       Unprofessional Behavior


 6 -  Wage & Salary
 7 -  Learning to Listen
 9 -  CPR Recertification &
       First Aid
 9 -  Bloodborne Pathogens
13 - Coaching for Improved
14 - Managing Millennial
20 - Time Management

Click on the dates for more information or refer to our program schedule

Check our new website often to view our 2017 programs.  If you are interested in a program not currently scheduled, email  Penny  to be added to our future registration list.
Last Chance Registration!!

TEA's Leadership/HR Conference & Annual Meeting Luncheon


May 22, 2017
7:45 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.
Prince Conference Center at
Calvin College

We encourage you to get your registrations in soon - an online AcuMax survey is given prior to the event!

The use of this seal confirms that this activity has met HR Certification Institute's® (HRCI®) criteria for recertification credit pre-approval.

Approved for 4 HR (General) recertification credit hours through HR Certification Institute® (HRCI®)

2 Free books included with each registration!!  Click for details & registration.

Sponsored by
HRG May Meeting

Wait! Our Employees are Non-Union.  Why do I have an NLRB Case?

Presenter: Tom Good from the Grand Rapids office of the NLRB

May 18, 2017
Stonewater Country Club
7:30 a.m. - 9:30 a.m.

More details and registration.
HRG / TEA Golf Outing


Wednesday, July 19, 2017
The Golf Club at Thornapple Pointe

This outing is open to anyone who would enjoy a day of golf and fun, not just HR professionals, so please feel free to invite coworkers, customers, clients, and friends!

More details and registration

Sponsorship available
President Dave Smith
From the President - Driving Positive Change
by David Smith, CEO & President

Why is it that people think starting over means repeating everything they originally did while expecting different results than those initiating the "re-do?"  Rather than focusing upon what DOES NOT (or did not) work, we should focus our efforts on WHAT HAS NOT YET BEEN ATTEMPTED when starting over after an original effort produced less than acceptable results.

Before we can start over, we must identify WHY we do not like where we are (even if we have not yet figured out what we must do differently to alter the direction of our travels or where we wish to end up) and WHAT we are willing to do to change.  In order to reach and accept a destination (even if only as a temporary resting place) you must first consider where you wish to ultimately "land" and how you hope to get there.  In order to initiate an Alpha (a new beginning) you must recognize that every opportunity - every new path upon which you walk - begins at an Omega (an end-point) from which you must move.  Each end is the beginning of another opportunity not yet revealed rather than an end in and of itself, and each beginning is but the first step of an action plan not yet brought to fruition.

Those who truly accomplish much in life tend to initiate more "Alphas" than they accept "Omegas."  They see life as a series of new beginnings rather than ends - of fresh starts rather than conclusions.  They find peace in the discovery of new moments rather than seeking peace within the moments that exist.  They use each "Omega" as a resting point where they recharge, refocus and redirect their efforts before seeking new opportunities - not as "ends" but rather precursors to new beginnings.  They tend not to think about whether a glass is half-full or half-empty, focusing instead on how much more they can squeeze into the vessel.  While they accomplish much, they often feel more can be accomplished, considering the following as they move from beginning to beginning (acknowledging but refusing to stop at each end):
  • Never try to be someone you are not.  Many individuals seek to change their situation by trying to do something (or be something) different.  Unless there is more gain from the change than pain from NOT changing, such mid-stream corrections rarely prove effective.  People change very little once they have established their basic values, patterns and thought processes.  It is often easier (and more effective) to leverage an individual's strengths than it is to try to change their shortcomings - to build upon what one does well than to try to establish a new base from which to grow.
  • One must first imagine something as being a possibility before it can become a probability.  While "failure" is not usually a desired outcome, dreamers often focus their DESIRE to change around the real possibility that they may not (at first) taste success.  Robert F. Kennedy said, "Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly."   Much intentional thought and deliberate action is required to succeed at any endeavor.  Failure is allowing a mistake to become a destination rather than a stepping-stone.  If thoughts and dreams are to become reality, the word "impossible" must not exist.
  • Mark Twain once said, "Don't go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first."  We are not "owed" success - we must first seek it then INTENTIONALLY ACT to make it become a reality.  Initiate long-lasting change by thinking big and acting audaciously without fear of failure - then incorporating the lessons learned into the inevitable success that will follow as you step away from your "ends" to experience a plethora of new beginnings.  Learn from your mistakes rather than letting them limit your successes.
Life is a series of starts and stops - of closed chapters and of new beginnings.  If we wish to initiate change effectively, it is important that we not only recognize the need for altered behavior but that we act intentionally in some manner.  We can choose to conduct our lives as they have always been (and receive what has always been provided) OR we can recognize that to accomplish anything new we must walk away from a place (person or situation) so that something else can be achieved.  We can choose to live within our Omegas or intentionally seek new Alphas but cannot realize a "new beginning" until we move away from our "endings."  
If we are not an intrinsic part of the solution, our lack of involvement will cause us to become a major part of the problem.  Will Rogers once said, "Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there."  Many people move to a point then stop as they wait for life to catch up OR let others make decisions and set direction for them.  Albert Einstein once said, " Everybody is a genius but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid."

To initiate change we must recognize each Omega as a disruption then act intentionally to move away from that "end" towards each new beginning so we will not be run over OR left behind as a part of the surroundings rather than carried forward as part of the future.  Change happens to (or as a result of) everyone involved.  Come to our annual Leadership / HR Conference on May 22nd to learn how you can better initiate, influence and manage change through all you say and do.

Visit our BLOG ( Dave's Deliberations) to view  recent posts.
Have you visited our new website yet?  We thank you for your patience during the transition and ask you to "pardon our dust" as we continue to update the site to its full capabilities throughout the next several months!

Changes you will notice:
  • One login - this is your personal login (username = your email address.  If you do not know your password, click "forgot password" to have it reset).
    • Login can be done from the top of our homepage, or when prompted.
    • To view your personal TEA account page, click on your name at the top of the website.
  • TEA Company Administrators only - your login will give you access to your company account page to make edits, view history of paid invoices, or pay open invoices/membership dues with credit card.  Please do not share your login information.
  • All Member Contacts (with login/TEA account) can access their account page, register for events and purchase any products, however, only the designated person from your organization can view survey reports.  Your login will also give you access to "members only" content pages, such as our Partnership listing, Member companies, archived newsletters etc...
Please visit our new website,, and view the resources available to you.  Contact us at 616.698.1167 if you have any questions.
Survey Reports Now Available

2017 Health Care & Medical Plan Cost

2017 Policies & Benefits

Thank you Member participants!

Didn't participate?  No worries, you can now purchase the surveys here!

Questions? Contact Marla at 616.698.1167.
Congratulations Member Winners!

We would like to congratulate this year's member winners for being West Michigan's Best & Brightest Companies to Work For:

Baudville, Inc.; Beene Garter LLP; Belwith Products LLC; Berends Hendricks Stuit Insurance;  Clark Retirement Community; Comfort Research; Dan Vos Construction Co., Inc.; Dominion Systems; Express Employment Professionals; Feyen Zylstra LLC; Flexco; Flow-Rite Controls; Fusion IT, LLC; GNS America; Grand Rapids Label Company; Grand Rapids Metrology; Haviland Enterprises, Inc.; Holland Hospital; Koops, Inc.; Nucraft Furniture; OMT-Veyhl USA Corp.; Paragon Die & Engineering; Seaman's; Service Professor Inc.; Shoreline Orthopedic; SpartanNash; Sun Title Agency; Trivalent Group; United Bank of Michigan
Exceptional Leadership Must be Visible to Be Respected
by Ron Scott, SPHR, Director of Member Engagement

Leading people is an action. Your team members are more responsive to the leadership seen in your behavior than they are to words you seek or expectations you express.  Employees want to follow a leader that they trust, respect, can expect (and anticipate) what they say and do AND who leads by example rather than by edict.

Being a leader in any organization requires modeling the behavior that you want to see in your team.  It requires stepping into situations and making the decisions that need to be made while letting your team know that you support them by taking action to give them what they need.  In order to gain this respect, Five Key Leadership Factors must be recognized (and exhibited):
  1. Leading requires being available to help (without excessive control) and engaged in the work of the team.  Today's fast paced and project oriented work requires effective leadership to be in the area of the team and open to questions and suggestions every day.  It DOES NOT mean that every suggestion is implemented but it DOES mean each is listened to and a respectful response is given.
  2. Leading requires being part of the teamEach team wants to know the direction of the organization, the support they have from leadership and that management is aware of their ideas. Being an active part of the team that is involved in decisions and the removal / elimination of barriers will communicate a leader's support and establish strong value for the team and its ideas.
  3. Engage in Decision making.  Leadership is willing to seek advice when identifying disruptions then make the tough decisions for the team - sharing the credit for positive results and learning together from unanticipated consequences.  Leadership encourages the team to come up with new approaches and ideas to improve products or services.  In order to expect creativity and initiative, a leader must demonstrate this behavior ("Do as I do, NOT as I say") by coming up with new approaches and ideas, being willing to implement them AND change them along the way (if conditions change).
  4. Leading Change.  When change is needed, the leader becomes the champion of change and outlines the steps that are part of the new endeavor. The leader embraces the change by taking the initiative to be the first to take the new approach.  Transparency in communication (WHY are we doing things differently, WHAT will the change accomplish and HOW will it impact all stakeholders?) is necessary if a Leader is to gain employee support.
  5. AccountabilityThe leader who wants respect and accountability must demonstrate it through their own words and actions.  A leader practices accountability by leading a team meeting and reviewing the work that he/she is doing - and how that work affects the Organization and the Team.  The leader who wants accountability must ask for (and be willing to accept) feedback.  A lone wolf may make a great manager but rarely will a "fierce individualist" make an exceptional leader.
Leading by example can be much more invigorating than asking everyone to "work harder."  An individual who demonstrates hard work, engages employees in the resolution of challenging situations and supports the team's actions and decisions will become a much more effective leader than will one that knows all the right words and gives all the right directions.  Leadership is a skill that can be taught, developed and enhanced IF and individual truly wishes to improve.  TEA has leadership training programs that promote and support leading by example, communicating effectively and managing performance.  Give Jason a call at 616.698.1167 or contact him at to learn more.

AHCA Might Change Health Care - But Employers Are Waiting to Change Their Plans
by Maggie McPhee, SHRM-CP, PHR, Director of  Information Services

In a news release today from SHRM (House Passes GOP Health Care Bill - Now What?) key issues of the new AHCA passed by the House were reviewed and compared to the ACA. 
  • Under the ACA, employers with 50+ employee have to provide health insurance or pay a penalty. There is no penalty under the AHCA.
  • The "Cadillac tax" would impose an excise tax on the value of health plans in the ACA.  The AHCA would delay this excise tax and end all other related taxes on employers.
  • The ACA increased the tax for non-medical expenses to 20%.  The AHCA would lower that to 10% and reinstate the over-the-counter use authorization.  The AHCA would also almost double the contribution limits for H.S.A.'s.
  • The ACA limits flexible spending accounts (FSA's).  The AHCA would repeal those limits and add in the ability to use FSA dollars for over-the-counter medications.
West Michigan employers are taking this news in stride.  Employers are not yet making changes to their company sponsored health plans, according to our 2017 Health Care and Medical Plan Cost Survey (132 participants - a 36% increase from 2016).  Some of the most notable findings this year regarding Wellness plans include the following from responding companies:
  • 30% less employees are participating in the Flexible Spending Accounts when available 
  • 32% more employers are counting temporary hours toward hours eligibility for health benefits
  • 13% more are offering a wellness incentive
  • 36% more are including a reduced premium or enhanced benefit level as part of their wellness incentives
  • 84% said they have not made any changes to their Wellness Plan as a result of ACA
Overall, health care premiums stayed very close to last years, only rising 1 - 2 % for single person plans (for those 136 plans reported).  It is unclear how much this increase was impacted by plan redesign.

Our Health Care and Medical Plan Cost Survey report was sent out to participants two weeks ago.  If you were not able to participate and would like order it, please do so through our NEW website at (click on Surveys, then Purchase Survey).  If you have questions about the data please, contact Maggie in the Information Services department at 616.698.1167 or

Since it appears that Washington is likely making changes to how we do business (again), reinforcing the truism that the only constant in life is change, bring your team to our Leadership / HR Conference and Annual Business Meeting.  We have designed the program to focus on initiating, implementing and accomplishing change WHILE MAINTAINING Corporate Culture and Values.  Register NOW to ensure your team is equipped to lead your Organization into the future!
The Magic of Mentoring
by Jason Reep , SPHR, Director of Learning & Inclusion  

Is there a tool that can help engage younger workers, transfer institutional knowledge from retiring employees, and provide development opportunities and growth for all employees involved?  Yes, there is - mentoring.  Mentoring is an often misunderstood (and misused) practice in organizations but if engaged in correctly can have great results.

When people think about mentoring at work they may envision a wise, experienced individual doling out advice, solutions and insight to others in the workplace.  This sage is often seen as having all the answers and the ability to keep people from harm, increase profitability, and ensure longevity of the organization.  In this misguided picture it is up to the people in the organization to seek this mentor out for advice and listen when he/she speaks.  Rarely do organizations have such a person and if someone thinks they are this person they are likely wrong.  Mentoring takes place through relationships and over time.  There is trial and error to find the right match and employees may have multiple mentors both inside and outside the organization.

Mentoring has traditionally been provided by an experienced leader would see a less-experienced employee (who often reminded him/her of him/herself when he/she was younger).  This employee was typically "taken under a wing" to learn and gain "appropriate" decision-making experience.  This, of course, resulted typically in men sharing what it took for them to be successful to other men that looked, thought and acted like themselves (or women in "traditional female roles" sharing their experiences with other women that looked, acted and thought as they did) which inadvertently kept other employees out of this development opportunity (usually that was not the intent).  It also assumed that what one generation needed for success translated directly to another generation.  Not surprisingly, the way mentoring functions today is more inclusive and provides benefits to larger groups of employees having expanded expectations and a variety of "outcomes" that must be achieved.

Younger employees continue to express a strong interest in being in a mentored relationship.  The expectation is often that the mentoring will benefit both parties (the younger, less experienced employees learn from the more experienced seasoned employee AND vice versa).  Partnering a newer employee with an experienced, productive employee is a great technique to pass vital/historical information to less experienced employees and helps equip the mentor with new skills and perspectives that help them work more effectively.  A challenge in these mentoring relationships is that both parties have to be willing to accept that both offer something vital to the organization, must hear each other and acknowledge the similarities and differences they bring to the relationship.  Like any relationship, if either party is not fully invested, it will fail - possibly causing irreparable damage or harm to the organization.  There are many stereotypes of younger, older, experienced and inexperienced workers but most are not true.  The preconceived beliefs about work ethic, openness to change, use of technology, etc. can block real dialogue and prevent growth.  Mentoring relationships should include discussion about how to address times when assumptions (real or imagined) are biasing the anticipated interaction.  Both the mentor and the mentee should feel safe to say, "I think you are working from a stereotype about ..." without fear of reprisal or negative consequences.

Any "cross-cultural" mentoring will need both parties asking additional questions and listening with sensitivity at a higher level than what occurs when the mentoring relationship has participants who are very similar.  These "cultural" differences can include generational differences, male/female mentoring, mentoring across racial/ethnic groups, working with someone from outside the community, etc.  The intent of mentoring is the same (equip another with the skills and information they need to be successful) but the approach will be modified, as needed.  A few critical reminders to help make the mentoring relationship most effective would include:
  • A mentor should not be an employee's direct boss.  Often a "directive" relationship makes it difficult for each party to fully see each other as an individual and to speak without fear of reprisal (or of showing a lack of knowledge).
  • Mentoring is not task focused.  It is big picture and longer term oriented - with a focus on process and results rather than fixes and cures.
  • Both parties should gain from the relationship.  The role of mentor/mentee can shift depending on the topic as both have valuable information and experience to contribute.
  • It should be engaged in voluntarily.  People who want to engage in growth and development with each other have more success than those who are told to.  Being told to "do this or lose your job" will typically result in short-term gains that will revert back to "business as usual" as soon as the expectation has been fulfilled and the pressure is off.
  • Formal check-ins help keep the relationship alive during busy times.  It is easy to get so swamped with work that talking with the mentor/mentee takes a back seat.  It is a process - often without formal beginning or end - and must be nurtured as what it is.  Do not expect Rome to be built in a day - situations requiring a change in behavior often develop over time and cannot be expected to disappear without some kind of committed investment by all involved.
  • Mentoring should be challenging but provide for growth opportunities.  Each party should expect to be (respectfully) challenged and look for opportunities at work and outside work to develop.  Discussing successes should be an integral part of any mentoring relationship.
  • It does not need to last forever.  It is okay to start with a time frame (including an end date) and extend beyond that if both parties agree - or put the process on hold early if all seems to be resolved.  Do not, however, walk away with no intention of feedback as that may telegraph abandonment rather than providing support.
For other suggestions regarding mentoring in the workplace or to help set up a program in your workplace, contact The Employers' Association at 616-698-1167.

The Performance-Appraisal Revolution
by Rob Strate, SPHR, Director of HR Services

The following article by Peter Coppelli recently appeared in the Harvard Business Review and describes theroller-coaster ride that performance appraisals have taken over the past two generations and where they seem to be headed now:  back to where they started.

When Brian Jensen told his audience of HR executives that Colorcon was not bothering with annual reviews anymore, they were appalled. This was in 2002, during his tenure as the drug maker's head of global human resources. In his presentation at the Wharton School, Jensen explained that Colorcon found a more effective way of reinforcing desired behaviors and managing performance - Supervisors were giving people instant feedback, tying it to individuals' own goals, and handing out small weekly bonuses to employees they saw doing good things.

Back then the idea of abandoning the traditional appraisal process - and all that followed from it - seemed heretical. But now, by some estimates, more than one-third of U.S. companies are doing just that. From Silicon Valley to New York, and in offices across the world, firms are replacing annual reviews with frequent, informal check-ins between managers and employees.

As you might expect, technology companies such as Adobe, Juniper Systems, Dell, Microsoft, and IBM have led the way. Yet they have been joined by a number of professional services firms ( Deloitte,  Accenture, PwC), early adopters in other industries (Gap, Lear, Oppenheimer Funds), and even General Electric, the longtime role model for traditional appraisals.

Without question, rethinking performance management is at the top of many executive teams' agendas, but what drove the change in this direction? Many factors. In a recent article for People + Strategy, a Deloitte manager referred to the review process as "an investment of 1.8 million hours across the firm that did not fit our business needs anymore." One Washington Post business writer   called it  a "rite of corporate kabuki" that restricts creativity, generates mountains of paperwork, and serves no real purpose. Others have described annual reviews as a  last-century practice  and blamed them for a lack of collaboration and innovation. Employers are also finally acknowledging that both supervisors and subordinates despise the appraisal process-a perennial problem that feels more urgent now that the labor market is picking up and concerns about retention have returned.

The biggest limitation of annual reviews - and the main reason more and more companies are dropping them - is with their heavy emphasis on financial rewards and punishments and their end-of-year structure, they hold people accountable for past behavior at the expense of improving current performance and grooming talent for the future, both of which are critical for organizations' long-term survival. In contrast, regular conversations about performance and development change the focus to building the workforce your organization needs to be competitive both today and years from now. Business researcher Josh Bersin estimates that about 70% of multinational companies are moving toward this model, even if they have not arrived quite yet.

The tension between the traditional and newer approaches stems from a long-running dispute about managing people - do you "get what you get" when you hire your employees? Should you focus mainly on motivating the strong ones with money and getting rid of the weak ones or are employees malleable? Can you change the way they perform through effective coaching and management and intrinsic rewards such as personal growth and a sense of progress on the job?

Dropping performance appraisals cuts right at the heart of the idea that employment is an economic relationship and the notion that supervision is really just an accounting function - total up the points and pass out the money. It is taking us back to an earlier idea that employees actually need to be managed and that the supervisor should be helping them improve their performance and develop their skills. Merit pay still has its place, but that role is simply to encourage the main goal of improving job performance and skills.

Editor's Note:  In order to make the change, HR professionals must redesign the systems built around appraisal scores - which will take work and initiate structural change. For employees (and how their employers deal with them), this new development challenges the very nature of the current employment relationship.  Instant feedback is good - we must make sure it is consistent and achieves what we wish and rewards the performance we require.

Peter Cappelli is the George W. Taylor Professor of Management and director of the Center for Human Resources at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia .

This newsletter is published at 5570 Executive Parkway SE, Grand Rapids, Michigan as a general information service to all members and offers data from many sources. It is not designed to render legal advice or opinion. Such advice may only be given when related to actual situations. Our staff can assist you in interpreting and applying this information to your needs.  For questions or replies to this newsletter, email .  
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