Join POOL/PACT HR’s Training Needs Assessment Workgroup!

Rise of the Machines: Artificial Intelligence in Human Resources

Documentation Ensures Objectivity

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Leadership

Dear POOL/PACT HR: Failed Drug Test

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Join POOL/PACT HR’s Training Needs Assessment Workgroup!

POOL/PACT Human Resources’ (HR) mission is to provide the resources and education for POOL/PACT members to build strong foundations for effective Human Resources practices within their organizations. One way in which we fulfill this mission is to develop and provide trainings for member organizations and their employees. When we design and develop trainings, we conduct training needs assessments about topics we feel are relevant to our members. 

A training needs assessment is a process for identifying how training can help an organization reach its goals and close the gaps between current and desired outcomes. The first step of this type of assessment is to determine what is causing the current outcome. Once the true cause of an outcome is identified, the training development process can start. Training needs assessments can be conducted through various means. POOL/PACT HR has used surveys/questionnaires, observations, informal discussions, roundtable groups, and review of new legislation to assess training needs and to develop or revise trainings. However, it is difficult to get into a detailed training needs assessment that identifies all HR-related issues members are facing using those methods. For this reason, we are reaching out to you, our member contacts, to ask for your help. 

We would like to invite you to be part of a Training Needs Assessment Workgroup, which will consist of other member contacts like you, and will represent the rest of POOL/PACT membership as a population sample. This workgroup will ask and answer very detailed questions to uncover the cause of shared HR-related issues. Some of these questions will include (Andreatta, 2022):

  • What is currently happening that you would like to see shift? What problems are we trying to solve?
  • Who specifically is involved with this issue?
  • What would it look like if everyone was performing optimally?
  • What is currently in the way of achieving the desired outcome?
  • Is there data we need to gather to gain more clarity?
  • What learning format would be most accessible to your team?
  • What possible challenges may arise and how could we overcome them?

By exploring these and other questions, we hope we can better identify training development opportunities that are beneficial and effective for the majority of membership. The workgroup would require you to attend virtual Zoom meetings for no more than 90 minutes once a month. This workgroup will continue until the group feels confident that it has identified in detail the HR-related issues that need to be addressed through training for members. 

If you would like to participate in this Training Needs Assessment Workgroup, please sign up by clicking here. Thank you in advance for your commitment and participation. If you have any questions, please reach out to POOL/ACT HR at (775) 887-2240 or email

Andreatta, B. (2023). Strategies for creating engaging learning. Talent development, 76(11), 26.

Rise of the Machines: Artificial Intelligence in Human Resources

Headlines in the last few months have exploded with stories about the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in business and education, but what place does AI have in the world of human resources? One way that HR departments have been embracing AI is in the form of Chatbots, also known as virtual HR assistants.

Chatbots are designed to automate repetitive HR tasks such as answering frequently asked questions, processing employee requests, and updating HR databases. By automating these tasks, HR departments can free up time and resources, allowing HR professionals to focus on more strategic initiatives. Additionally, chatbots can provide real-time information to employees, reducing the need for HR departments to respond to inquiries that can be easily answered through a virtual assistant.

The latest AI development making waves is ChatGPT, an artificial intelligence chatbot developed by OpenAI which is currently free for public use. ChatGPT has the ability to respond to questions and prompts with impressive variety and detail. In fact, the previous paragraph was an excerpt created by ChatGPT when I entered the prompt: “Write an article about the use of AI in human resources.”

To see what other capabilities ChatGPT may have, I entered several prompts ranging from “write an FMLA policy” to “write an employee termination letter,” and overall, I was impressed with the results and see how it could be a useful starting point if writing a policy or other document from scratch. However, this AI technology does not “know” everything, and cannot be depended upon for complete accuracy, especially when it comes to more niche fields such as local government human resources in specific states. For instance, Chat GPT was able to produce a simple FMLA policy that accurately covered the main federal requirements, but when prompted to create a policy for requirements specific to Nevada, such as providing accommodations for victims of domestic violence, the result was fairly generic and failed to include all necessary details. In the end, AI tools such as Chatbots may be useful when answering general HR questions that are not dependent on legal accuracy and as a starting point for drafting documents, but knowledgeable HR professionals are still needed to ensure accuracy and address nuanced issues specific to local laws and organizational policies. In other words, we still need the “human” in human resources.

Documentation Ensures Objectivity

During my tenure as a POOL/PACT HR Business Partner, one of the recurring themes in working with supervisors is trying to emphasize the importance of remaining objective and thorough throughout all the steps when managing employees’ performance.

Within the Performance Management Cycle there are three main components: the “setting of expectations” of the desired performance or behaviors by the employee; the “monitoring” of the established expectations by the manager; and finally, the “evaluation” to determine how successful the employee was in achieving the established expectations. Though all three components are of equal importance, the “monitoring” component seems to create the most unease for some supervisors.

Communication throughout all three cycle components ensures the employee is continually made aware of their progress towards the established expectations. In other words, when the employee is presented with their performance evaluation, there shouldn’t be any “surprises” on how their performance ratings were derived.

During the monitoring stage, the communication can take the form of coaching, counseling, or reinforcement. If the coaching or counseling does not improve the employee's performance or behavior, the manager will need to implement further corrective actions as outlined in the organization’s progressive discipline policy. Whatever measure the manager chooses to utilize, it is important that it is documented, and the employee is provided a copy of the documentation. The length and complexity of the documentation will be dependent upon the measure(s) taken (e.g., coaching/counseling recap, verbal/written warnings, reprimands). The documentation provides the memorialization that the measure(s) taken did occur. Undocumented measures are hard to substantiate, especially if the measures become more progressive and are challenged by the employee (or by their union). Because of the failure to document earlier measures, some managers become frustrated and hesitant to take the next steps within their progressive discipline plan, resulting in continual warnings or cautions for repeated behaviors which should warrant more severe measures be taken.

Documentation doesn’t have to be a time-consuming or burdensome task for managers. POOL/PACT HR has multiple trainings and resources available to help managers document events and expectations concisely. When managers become adept in documenting, they become more confident in taking progressive corrective actions to ensure the employee is on the right track.

For more information on performance management training or resources, contact your POOL/PACT HR Business Partner.

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Leadership

Diversity, equity, and inclusion have become essential for employers striving to improve their workplace culture. Despite many employers implementing DEI initiatives, getting leadership to fully support these efforts remains challenging. Below are a few strategies to help organizational leaders engage in the organization's DEI incentives.

Workplace DEI: Why it Matters

All employees should feel welcome and included in their workplace culture, regardless of their background. A diverse workplace can increase innovation, employee engagement, and business outcomes. DEI is a team effort that involves everyone in an organization, including leadership.

DEI Initiatives and Leadership

Below are three strategies that may help increase engagement of organizational leaders in DEI initiatives.

  1. Education: Provide information on the effectiveness of DEI programs and their positive impact, such as sharing other entities' successful experiences, providing training opportunities and professional support, and presenting statistics or other information which emphasizes the value of creating an equitable workplace. 
  2. Quantifiable Goals: Set quantifiable goals for organizational leaders to provide guidelines for leaders to practice. Goals could include identifying tools to measure progress, starting a mentorship program for diverse employees, and providing anti-bias employee training, such as "Creating an Inclusive Work Environment" offered by POOL/PACT HR.
  3. Accountability: Hold leaders accountable for their actions (or inaction) regarding DEI initiatives. One method to maintain accountability is to conduct frequent check-in meetings to help determine the progress or improvements needed and by whom.

In conclusion, to achieve diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace, all levels of an organization must be committed. By providing educational opportunities, setting quantifiable goals, and holding leaders accountable, organizations can improve the workplace culture and genuinely have an inclusive and equitable workplace for all employees.

For more information on DEI, please contact your POOL/PACT HR Business Partner.


We have a long-term employee who failed a random drug test. He has been one of our top performers for years, so needless to say, we were surprised by the results. We could terminate him, but we decided based on his work history to offer him a Last Chance Agreement (LCA). The LCA will include a three-day unpaid suspension among other requirements. Do we need to provide him due process for the suspension that is part of the LCA?


Befuddled in Boulder


Dear Befuddled,

While it may seem that the unpaid suspension would trigger an employee’s due process rights since suspensions are a form of punitive discipline, when a suspension is a condition of an LCA, due process is not needed. 

To explain, let’s start at the beginning. Back in 1985, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that certain public-sector employees have a property interest in their public employment, and they cannot be deprived of that property interest without due process. These rights may be provided by statute , ordinance, policy, or collective bargaining agreements (CBA). This means that anytime one of these employees faces discipline that affects their pay (i.e., punitive), they have the right to receive notice of the intended disciplinary action, a right to a pre-disciplinary hearing, and the right to appeal the disciplinary action. Punitive disciplinary actions include suspensions, demotions, pay reductions, and termination. LCAs are not considered discipline, punitive, or otherwise; rather, they are an alternative to termination.

So, in order to offer an LCA, the employer must be willing to proceed with termination. Termination, the ultimate punitive disciplinary action, does invoke an employee’s due process rights. As such, the employer would need to be prepared to provide due process for the termination but offer the employee the LCA as an alternative to termination. If the employee (and union representative, if applicable) agrees to the terms of the LCA, there is no need to proceed with the termination and therefore no due process is needed. If the employee (and rep) does not agree, then the employee would receive the appropriate notice, hearing, and appeal for the termination.

In the case of your employee, you should prepare both the notice of intent to terminate and the LCA so that when you meet with the employee, you can provide him with the actual disciplinary action as well as the alternative. It is also a good idea to allow the employee a day or so to consider the options to ensure the employee understands the agreement. If time is allowed, you would need to place the employee on paid administrative leave. If he agrees to the terms of the LCA, you will move forward with the suspension and other requirements of the agreement. If he does not, then you proceed with due process for the termination as outlined in your policy or CBA.

For more information on due process, please see POOL/PACT HR Briefing: Due Process: What, Who, When & How. Sample due process notices and sample Last Chance Agreement templates are also available. These documents and many others are available to registered users in the Resource Library on the POOL/PACT HR website,

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Day 1 - Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Day 2 - Thursday, May 11, 2023

This two-day, in-person program will assist graduates of the original Human Resources Representative Certificate Program to enhance their employee relations skills and employment law knowledge by working through a case study. Participants will act as the “HR Manager” of the organization and determine how to proceed at various stages. Participants will have the opportunity to discuss their decisions as well as the consequences of their actions or inactions. Completion of both days is required to earn a certificate. 

Note: This course is only available to graduates of the "Human Resources Representative Certificate Program."


Watch your inbox the first week of April for the POOL/PACT HR Leadership Conference registration email.

We look forward to seeing you in October!

A password is required to access materials from POOL/PACT's website, a resource exclusive to risk pool members. If you are not currently registered, please contact us to help you get started.