November 2023 Digital Issue of HR Professionals Magazine

Page 1

Volume 13 : Issue 11


Attracting Gen Z

Highlights from

SHRM Fall Conferences

Talking Taboo

by Alex Alonso, PhD

DailyPay The Impact of Generative AI on Wellness

2023 SHRM Employee Benefits Survey

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CONFIRMED SPEAKERS Michael Butler Julie Develin Christie Engler Mallory Herrin Dorice Horenstein Ben McCall George Rogers

$699 CONFERENCE REGISTRATION PRICE Four Pre-Conference Webinars Seven On-Board Sessions 16.25 Recertification Credits

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Bringing Human Resources & Management Expertise to You According to SHRM


of employees say they are satisfied with their employee benefits.

Editor Cynthia Y. Thompson, MBA, SHRM-SCP, SPHR Publisher

The Thompson HR Firm, LLC Art Direction

Park Avenue Design Marketing and Social Media Specialist

Julie Nagem

Project Specialist

Liz Rogers


Charles B. Thompson Webmaster

Leo Dimilo Contributing Writers Alexander Alonso Paul Beck William Brown Nirav Desai Amy S. Dufrane Ashley Dugger LeeAnn B. Foster W. Sean Harrison Andrew J. Hebar Tim Keck Lauren Mandel Monte Mills Craig Southern Brenda M. Walsh

Contact HR Professionals Magazine: To submit a letter to the editor, suggest an idea for an article, notify us of a special event, promotion, announcement, new product or service, or obtain information on becoming a contributor, visit our website at We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts or articles. All manuscripts and photos must be submitted by email to Editorial content does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the publisher, nor can the publisher be held responsible for errors. HR Professionals Magazine is published every month, 12 times a year by the Thompson HR Firm, LLC. Reproduction of any photographs, articles, artwork or copy prepared by the magazine or the contributors is strictly prohibited without prior written permission of the Publisher. All information is deemed to be reliable, but not guaranteed to be accurate, and subject to change without notice. HR Professionals Magazine, its contributors or advertisers within are not responsible for misinformation, misprints, omissions or typographical errors. ©2023 The Thompson HR Firm, LLC | This publication is pledged to the spirit and letter of Equal Opportunity Law. The following is general educational information only. It is not legal advice. You need to consult with legal counsel regarding all employment law matters. This information is subject to change without notice.



3 Join us for the HR Conference Cruise March 3-8

5 note from the editor 10 Talking Taboo 14 Hard Work Pays Off “On the Daily”

45 The Benefits of SHRM Membership

Talent Management and Recruiting 2 Don’t Let Seasonal Hiring Ruin Your Holiday Spirit 8 Skills -Based Hiring to Expand Diversity and Inclusion 12 Three Things That Keep You from Becoming a Victim of Violence 16 Cooking Up an Optimized Experience for Your Candidates 20 Attracting Generation Z 22 Advancing Disability Inclusion 30 Strengthen Your Bench: Succession Planning 31 Compliance with Compassion -Team Foster HR Strategy

Employee Benefits 6 2023 SHRM Employee Benefits Survey

21 The Benefits Group – We Do All the Work!

24 The Transformative Impact of Generative AI on Wellness 25 McGriff More Insights 32 2023 Welfare Plan Disclosure Checklist

36 Managed Health Plans, ERISA, and Medical Data: The Coming Storm 39 QualChoice Health Insurance

Employment Law 18 A Drug-Free Workplace vs. A Work-Free Drug Place 19 Wimberly Lawson Attorneys & Counselor at Law 27 Rainey Kizer Reviere & Bell PLC 33 Bass, Berry & Sims Listens and Responds

Top Educational Programs for HR Professionals 13 Become a Certified Threat Analyst 17 SHRM Seminars 23 Save 20% on HRCI Courses in 2023 35 Which SHRM Learning Journey is Right for You? 39 Southern Columbia University Online HR Degree 48 WGU Master of Science in Human Resource Management

SHRM Conferences Update

9 SHRM24 in Chicago June 23-26

26 SHRM Talent Conference in Las Vegas April 14-17 28 Highlights from the SHRM-Memphis DEI Conference October 18 34 2023 SHRM Georgia State Council Awards 40 Highlights from the Mississippi Human Resources Conference & Expo 42 Highlights from the 2023 One SHRM Georgia Conference and Expo 44 Highlights from the HRSouthwest Conference in Fort Worth 46 Highlights from the 2023 Arkansas SHRM Conference & Expo December 2023 Issue Features the SHRM Foundation Deadline to reserve space November 15


a note from the editor

We have a fantastic November issue for you! We are focusing on the highlights from the fall SHRM conferences in Mississippi, Georgia, Texas, and Arkansas. We have traveled to four states since our October issue to bring you the latest and greatest conferences ever! It was wonderful meeting so many of you in person! I hope you are following us on Facebook and LinkedIn so that you can receive our live videos with SHRM chapter leaders and top keynote speakers. Here are the links for you: Like our Facebook page here: www.facebook/ Connect with me on Linked in here: Working on your 2024 compensation budget? We are honored to feature DailyPay on our November cover. This exciting and innovative company can help improve your retention rate by providing daily pay for your employees. You can empower your team with choice and control of their pay. With earned wage access, employees can better control their finances. 80% of DailyPay users say DailyPay has had a positive influence on their financial habits!

We are focusing on employee benefits planning and compliance in this issue. You will find solutions for some of the issues that keep you awake at night. It’s open enrollment season, and we are including the 2023 SHRM Benefits Survey to help guide your employee benefits decisions for 2024. Nirav Desai with McGriff has provided an article on the transformative impact of generative AI on wellness. Bass, Berry & Sims provided the 2023 Welfare Plan Disclosure Checklist. There is also a list of contacts in the event you need assistance with the checklist. Sean Harrison, CTO for Benefits Compliance Intelligence, has an excellent article about self-funded health plans. It’s time to work on your succession plan for 2024 also. LeeAnn Bailes Foster with Team Foster HR Strategy has provided a blueprint for you succession planning process. Learn about the best ever succession planning tool: The Knowledge Transfer Document. She also provides 7 steps involved in succession planning – and 7 steps to keep your plan current. This is a must-read for all HR professionals! Our December issue will feature the SHRM Foundation. The foundation elevates and empowers HR professionals as a force for social good so that all workplaces can prosper and thrive. They provide specialty certifications as well as scholarships to help HR professionals obtain their SHRM-CP and SCP. Watch your email for our November webinars. All our webinars are pre-approved for both SHRM PDCs and HRCI Business Credit. If you are not currently on our email distribution list, please visit our website and click on Subscribe. Wishing you and your family a lovely Thanksgiving season. @cythomps on Twitter

Watch my video with Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., President and CEO of SHRM, to learn about his vision for HR! Click here:




Modern Benefits for a Modern Workforce As one of the longest-running annual research reports covering trends in employee benefits, the SHRM Employee Benefits Survey returns with new insights for 2023. This comprehensive annual survey of HR professionals captures the prevalence of benefits across a wide range of offerings. In a world upended by a global pandemic and the rising cost of living, organizations have adapted their benefits packages to further the success of both their workers and their businesses. The goal of the SHRM Employee Benefits Survey is to gain an accurate representation of benefits offerings throughout the United States. SHRM members can use the findings to discover and benchmark the benefits changes organizations have implemented. With the inclusion of another 35 items in 2023—some returning from pre-pandemic surveys and others brand-new—SHRM hopes to provide a more comprehensive picture of the employee benefits landscape. DOWNLOAD THE EXECUTIVE SUMMARY


See How Your Benefits Stack Up To help you compare your organization’s benefits against those surveyed, we’ve provided an online, interactive benchmarking tool. The power is in your hands to filter results according to your organization’s industry, size and location. Are you at a small construction company? Results are available specifically for an organization like yours. What about a utility company in the Midwest? Yep, results are available for that as well.* This tool not only equips you to see the overall results of the SHRM Employee Benefits Survey, but also allows you to call up custom-filtered results any time you need them. You can also export the results for later reference. We’re excited to share these results and equip you with the information to help you build better workplaces. Select any of the benefits categories on the navigation bar to get started. * For confidentiality purposes, a minimum of five responses is required to show filtered results. For filters resulting in 5-19 responses, results will display with an asterisk to denote a low response count.

LICENSE AGREEMENT FOR THE SHRM EMPLOYEE BENEFITS SURVEY RESULTS INTERACTIVE ONLINE TOOL, SURVEY RESULTS AND REPORT By opening and using the SHRM Employee Benefits Survey Results interactive online tool (the "Interactive Online Tool"), the Benefits Survey Results (the “Results”), and generating a Report (the “Report”) (and together the “Results and Report”), you (“User”) hereby agree as follows: (i) That the Society for Human Resource Management is the exclusive provider and owner of the Interactive Online Tool and exclusive copyright owner of the Results and Report. (ii) User has the right, by this License, to use the Interactive Online Tool and Results and Report solely for the internal purposes of their employer (“Company”) or for the internal purposes of a single client of Company (“Single Client”), and to make or distribute copies of the Results and Report to other employees within the Company or to employees within the Single Client, provided that such other Company employees or Single Client employees may only use the Results and Report for the internal purposes of the Company or Single Client. The Results and Report may not be shared to external third parties by any Company employees, Single Client employees or User. Except as allowed above with respect to use by employees of Company for the internal purposes of Company or employees of Single Client for the internal purposes of Single Client, User, Company and Single Client are strictly prohibited from printing, making or distributing any copies of the Results and Report in any type of media. (iii) All materials, reports, data, records, including all export files and reports generated from the Interactive Online Tool, regardless of format

(e.g., PDF, CSV), and any other intellectual property created or compiled by SHRM for the Results or in generating the Report, contained in the Results and Report and all copies thereof, collectively the “SHRM Intellectual Property”, shall be the sole property of SHRM. (iv) Neither User, Company nor Single Client has any right to sell or sublicense, loan or otherwise convey or distribute the Interactive Online Tool, the Results or the Report or any copies thereof in any media to any third parties outside of the Company or Single Client. © 2023 Society for Human Resource Management. All rights reserved. SHRM creates better workplaces where employers and employees thrive together. As the voice of all things work, workers and the workplace, SHRM is the foremost expert, convener and thought leader on issues impacting today’s evolving workplaces. With nearly 325,000 members in 165 countries, SHRM impacts the lives of more than 235 million workers and families globally. Learn more at This publication may not be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in whole or in part, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the Society for Human Resource Management, 1800 Duke Street, Alexandria, VA 22314, USA. Disclaimer This report is published by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). SHRM cannot accept responsibility for any errors or omissions or any liability resulting from the use or misuse of any such information.


Skills-Based Hiring to Expand

Diversity and Inclusion By ASHLEY DUGGER, DBA, SHRM-CP


ou’ve likely heard of skills-based education and skillsbased hiring, and perhaps your organization has already started utilizing a skills approach to talent development and succession planning. However, consider the impact that transitioning to a skills-based talent acquisition approach could have in terms of expanding your talent pool to reach more candidates and increase inclusion of a more diverse workforce. When hiring managers and recruitment specialists adopt a focus on relevant and transferable skills versus only looking for an arbitrary number of years’ experience or previous job titles matching very specific, exclusionary criteria, this severely limits your options for hiring a more diverse group of employees. A skills-based talent acquisition approach focuses on evaluating candidates based on the skills they can perform to be successful in a particular role, versus only seeking out more traditional hiring criteria such as educational attainment by itself, prior career titles and years in a position, and whether someone has worked in the same industry previously. When you expand to a skills-based approach, you are seeking specific experience performing the skills needed for the role, transferable skills gained from other roles or industries even if not 100% aligned to your organization or job title you are hiring for, and allowing for strong quality of hires as you focus on competency for specific tasks needing to be performed in the job. As Jen Dewar noted in a recent LinkedIn article, adopting a skills-first approach to hiring not only potentially increases the quality of your new hires, it can expand the talent pool to help fill talent shortages, reduce bias and increase your overall talent pipeline diversity, and improve retention of employees as they feel better matched to their roles. Specifically, Dewar noted that this type of approach allows “more women to apply to jobs they may not have otherwise applied due to a higher self-qualification bar” and that those from historically marginalized and underserved communities that are less likely to hold a college degree have much wider pools of opportunity versus traditional hiring practices. In a 2021 article for Bain & Company, the authors noted that prioritizing skills in the hiring process expands access to and inclusion of the roughly “76% of Black Americans and 83% of Hispanic workers” without a college degree. Active-duty military service members and veterans seeking to transition to the civilian workforce also gain access and wider consideration to fill open positions when we use a skills-based approach and can leverage the multitude of applicable, relevant and incredibly important skills they gained throughout their military careers. 8

If your recruiters or applicant-tracking systems are only checking for keywords to align with past career titles, degree achievements alone versus the skills or competencies within a degree or outside a degree at all, or years of experience in past roles, you can be excluding a wide range of diverse candidates qualified to succeed in the positions! Personally, I consider my own experience when I sought to transition to the field of HR. For six years, I was rejected from HR positions because I had not “worked in an HR titled role” specifically, even though I had an advanced degree and more than ten years of operational leadership, management and capacity-analysis roles with a variety of HR skills such as recruiting, performance management, training and development, and workforce planning that would have made me an asset to the organizations to which I had applied. I finally got a chance to work in the field when an HR director utilized a skills-based approach and evaluated me based on my transferable skills aligning to requirements of the role. We adopted that approach throughout the years as we worked together to bring on student workers and other professionals from departments outside of HR that were interested in making the move to an HR career. Consider within your own organizations how you might start to support a skills focus, not only in your hiring practices, but also in offering internships or volunteer work, perhaps special projects in departments to help students and other professionals in your communities, as well as current employees seeking development opportunities or career pathways to new roles. This gives them the chance to not only share existing transferable skills but also develop new skills along the way to open more doors for them in the future. Start by educating recruiters, hiring managers and other decisionmakers on the benefits of a skills-based talent-acquisition approach, and then work to spread these efforts to your learning and development, succession-planning and career-pathway efforts.

Ashley Dugger, DBA, SHRM-CP

Associate Dean and Director-HR Management Programs Western Governors University

ALMOST HALF OF FULL-TIME WORKERS (45%) DON’T UNDERSTAND THEIR BENEFITS PACKAGE.* Is your organization prepared for open enrollment season? Take the mystery out of compensation & benefits and increase your organization’s efficiency with proven tactics at the SHRM Annual Conference & Expo 2024.

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Talking Taboo

Making the Most of Polarizing Discussions at Work By ALEXANDER ALONSO, PHD


Have you read Talking Taboo by Alexander Alonso, PhD? Here is the entire book that you can read from our website When politics, sex, race, religion, and other polarizing subjects come up in conversation among co-workers, what happens next? SHRM Chief Knowledge Officer Alexander Alonso, Ph.D., SHRM-SCP, explains why some topics are taboo while others are not then brings them to life with real-world conversations on taboo topics, such as politics, race, religion, sex and gender. Based on the extensive findings of the “2020 SHRM Survey of Politics and Polarizing Discussions in the Workplace,” Alonso looks into the future of Talking Taboo, delivers proven assessment and guidance tools, and wraps up by showing how to make taboo topics work in your workplace. Dr. Alexander Alonso, PhD, SHRM-SCP is SHRM’s Chief Knowledge Officer

Chapter 1

Chapter 6

Problematic Workplace Situations: An Introduction

Race, Religion, Ethnicity, and Nationality preview-of-talking-taboo-by-alexander-alsonso-phd/ talking-taboo-chapter-6-race-religion-ethnicity-andnationality/

Chapter 2

Chapter 7

The Science of Polarization

https://hrprofessionalsmagazine. com/2023/01/02/2nd-installment-of-talking-tabooby-alexander-alsonso-phd/

Chapter 3 How to Assess and Guide Taboo Talk

https://hrprofessionalsmagazine. com/2023/01/25/3rd-installment-of-talking-taboo-byalexander-alsonso-phd/

Chapter 4 Electoral Politics talking-taboo-chapter-4-electoral-politics-by-alexalonso/

Chapter 5 Politics in Broadcast and Social Media talking-taboo-chapter-5-politics-in-broadcast-andsocial-media/

Sex, Gender, and LGBTQ talking-taboo-chapter-7-sex-gender-and-lgbtq/

Chapter 8 Age and Physical and Mental Health talking-taboo-chapter-7-sex-gender-and-lgbtq/

Chapter 9 Opinions, Empathy, and Culture docs/hrpm_aug_2023_high_res_ whyperlinks/s/29224725

Chapter 10 Epilogue: The Future of Taboo Talk talking-taboo-chapter-10-epilogue-the-future-oftaboo-talk/


Three Things That Keep You from Becoming a Victim of Violence By TIM D. KECK and MONTE MILLS

The blade of the knife felt cold against Aletha’s throat. He ordered her out of the car and forced her inside his truck. Fear welled up inside, and her mind raced, trying to determine what to do. Most women have imagined a scenario like this true story. It’s the stuff nightmares are made of. But it’s not just women who must be prepared to face violence. In this day and time, it is all of us. Stabbings. Carjackings. Assaults. Violent crime is on the rise across the nation, and it’s only going to get worse. That explains why more and more of our clients are requesting training in De-Escalation and Self Protection. We’ve written extensively about ways to de-escalate situations, but now we offer solutions for those rare times when nothing else has worked, and you must physically protect yourself or become the victim of a horrible crime. Before we delve into tactics and techniques, let’s talk about avoidance strategies for a minute. Do these things, and you will likely never be targeted: 1. Trust your instincts. If something feels wrong, something probably is wrong. When you get that feeling, take immediate action and do something different. 2. Don’t be in the wrong place at the wrong time. This involves everything from avoiding known trouble spots to limiting shopping to daylight hours. 3. Exude confidence. People who appear confident rarely become victims because they don’t look like easy targets. Walk more slowly, with a longer stride, head up, surveying your surroundings. DO NOT stare at your phone the whole time or wear earbuds. We know what you’re thinking. I shouldn’t have to live my life like that. And you’re right. You shouldn’t. Yet here we are. Which is exactly what Aletha was thinking as her kidnapper started the truck. This wasn’t fair. She was only 17 years old. She just got off work. She only wanted to go home to her family. But he didn’t care about all that. And this is where most people get stuck in their thinking. They think they can reason with the person trying to kill them. But the assailant who has committed hundreds of violent acts isn’t a reasonable person. Then they think they’ll call 911 and help will come. It probably will. But how much damage can a deranged person do to you in the meantime? Too much damage. Lastly, people think they will just run away from what will likely be a bigger, faster, stronger opponent. Think about that. 12

If you can’t accept the fact that violence could happen to you, there is little we can do to help. But if you can face the reality of life in an ever more violent culture, here are the three things you need to know to protect yourself and those you care about. 1. Adopt a Survival Mindset – This is a mental agreement that says, “I can and will survive. I can and will use violence to protect myself and those I love. I will persist until I win the encounter.” Repeat it over and over. Make it a mantra. This is the most critical element of this equation. As Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right.” We think you can. 2. Attack the Vulnerable Spots – In a violent encounter, you must focus on creating an incapacitating injury in your opponent. Forget what they are trying to do to you. Focus solely on destroying their ability to hurt you by hitting their groin (as hard as you can, repeatedly, until they drop), striking their neck with an elbow (generating power by rotating your hips), or disabling their eyes (driving your thumb into the socket as deep as you can). 3. Use Mental Rehearsal – Play the “What would I do if?” game, asking yourself how you would respond in various likely scenarios. Imagine how you would react to everything from the scary person approaching your car as you pump gasoline to the sound of glass breaking at 3 a.m. Think and feel your way through each scenario, feel the fear, and overcome it through deep breathing. Being a target doesn’t mean you have to be a victim. Aletha was too frightened to speak as her knife-wielding assailant drove her into the darkness. But her instincts insisted that she talk to her kidnapper. So, she humanized the encounter by telling him her name and making small talk. When he stopped in a field and got her out of the truck, her instincts told her to submit. So, she did. When he got on top of her to commit the act, her instincts told her to scoot out from under him, which she did. Repeatedly. Until he could no longer reach the knife, he’d laid on the ground. When he got up to get the knife, her instincts screamed, “Run!” And she ran, disappearing into the night. She went home to her family, and her attacker went to prison. If a 17-year-old pizza waitress can do that with no training at all, what could you do by putting a few of the above principles to work? Let us partner with you and your organization to protect you and those you care about! Call 1-844-SAFEGROUP or visit today for vulnerability assessments, training, and consulting that keeps people safe. And remember, initial consultations are free.

Hard Work Pays Off ‘On The Daily’ By PAUL BECK and LAUREN MANDEL

These are challenging times for the American worker. Over 6 in 10 Americans are living paycheck to paycheck while 37% of Americans lack enough money to cover a $400 emergency expense. At the same time, employers are facing significant challenges with hiring and retaining employees as the labor market remains tight with 1.5 job openings for every unemployed job seeker. As a result, relationships between employers and employees are fraught with challenges.

credit card interest charges do this less often or stopped completely since they started using earned wage access. This benefit also enables them to plan their time and work and time away from work very effectively, a balancing act that is managed every day. Mastering that balancing act through the use of earned wage access, leads to deeper relationships with employers and a big impact on business through more engaged employees staying longer in their roles.

However, from great challenges come great opportunities. Research shows that employees, like never before, look to their employer for help in weathering these turbulent financial times. HR leaders have an opportunity to demonstrate support for their workforce and to strengthen and fortify the employer-employee bond with impactful benefits that make a difference in their lives. One such benefit can be found in the unlikeliest of places - their pay. With earned wage access, employees are empowered to seize control of their finances with access to their pay as they earn it. With this power, they can pay bills, spend, save, or invest on their own schedule, not an arbitrary payday. In fact, 80% of DailyPay users say DailyPay has a positive influence on their financial habits according to research conducted by Arizent, commissioned by DailyPay. Here are three high-impact effects that earned wage access can have on your workforce and ultimately, your company.

Knowledge is Power There is no better feeling than to see the fruits of your labor after a hard day’s work – pay transparency is extremely important for the everyday worker. For example, with DailyPay, employees have visibility into the money they’ve earned in real time after each shift. Arizent’s research found that 93% of DailyPay users check DailyPay for their earnings activity to make spending and financial decisions. The money they’ve earned is theirs immediately and can be used in whatever fashion to make life better for themselves and their families. Maybe it’s for going out to dinner at a favorite restaurant. Maybe it’s to pay for a continuing education class, or maybe it’s to pay the cell phone bill. Whatever it’s for, employees who use earned wage access are in control on a daily basis. This control reduces worker stress significantly, enabling them to be more present at work and more engaged, longer.

Deeds More Than Words Real life happens between paychecks. And most of it happens away from the jobsite. Employers need to be keenly aware and sensitive to the fact that unforeseen events from a fender bender to a medical emergency can throw an employee’s life into chaos. In these instances, employees need support from additional PTO to earned wage access. It’s critical to create a working environment where employees believe that in tough times, you have their backs. With a financial wellness benefit such as earned wage access, employees are equipped to handle unforeseen emergencies with access to instant financial liquidity. And the power to see where they are financially at any moment of any day, gives them the piece of mind that helps them build longer and more productive relationships with their employers. The fact is that people want to work hard and feel that their hard work is advancing their goals and dreams. Earned Wage Access is the one benefit that delivers on the promise of being there for your employees.

The Bottom Line is a Win-Win Inflation is still high. Gas prices are going up. Life gets more and more expensive. And this can bring on stress and a disengaged workforce. Which is why it’s never been more important to let your employees know how important and valued they are. It’s never been more important to showcase your commitment to your employees and why their financial well-being is connected to the company’s well-being. And there is no better way to do that than by empowering your team with choice and control of their pay. There are many things you can say to your workforce that sound like you understand the challenges they face everyday. But when you give them a benefit, the number one benefit they really want, one that helps lift them up and support their wants and dreams, you create real change and meaningful impact, ‘on the daily’.

Time is Money It was Benjamin Franklin who coined the phrase “Time is Money.” It is imperative to recognize that your employee’s time is to be respected and valued. They come to work each day in support of your company’s mission and purpose. However, time can sometimes work against employees when it comes to paying bills. The timing of bills doesn’t always align with the timing of pay. Thus, many hard hard-working Americans turn to nefarious predatory payday loans or high-interest credit cards to make ends meet. Earned wage access, on the other hand, provides a low-cost or no-cost option for employees to pay bills on their own time. Sixty-two percent of users who previously incurred 14

Paul Beck

VP, Head of Brand and Daybreak Studios DailyPay, Inc.

Lauren Mandel

Senior Director, Brand Strategy DailyPay, Inc.

Hard work pays off on the daily. Get access to your pay when you want it.

Cooking up an Optimized Experience for Your Candidates Introduction Just like a well-prepared Thanksgiving feast, a successful background screening process requires careful planning and the right ingredients. For HR professionals, effective communication with candidates during this critical phase is essential. In this article, we will explore the key ingredients necessary for a smooth candidate experience during the background screening process.

1. The Invitation: Clear and Timely Communication Much like sending out invitations for a Thanksgiving gathering, communication with candidates should start with a clear and timely message. Candidates should know what to expect from the background screening process right from the beginning. Ensure that your initial communication outlines the steps, timeline, and any necessary documentation or information required from the candidates. Consider sending an email or letter that serves as an official "invitation" to the background screening process, explaining its importance, and offering support for any questions or concerns the candidate may have.

2. The Warm Welcome: Personalization and Courtesy When guests arrive for Thanksgiving dinner, a warm welcome sets the tone for the evening. Similarly, extending courtesy and personalization to candidates can make them feel valued and respected. Address them by their name, and be attentive to their specific needs and concerns. Ensure that your communication is polite and professional, and make an effort to personalize messages when possible. A personalized touch can go a long way in building a positive candidate experience.

3. The Main Course: Transparency and Clarity At Thanksgiving, the main course is the star of the show, and transparency should be the centerpiece of your background screening process. Candidates should have a clear understanding of what information is being collected, how it will be used, and the implications for their candidacy. Provide candidates with a detailed explanation of the screening process, including the types of checks being conducted (e.g., criminal, reference, or credit checks), and the criteria used for evaluation. This transparency fosters trust and helps candidates feel more comfortable throughout the process.

4. The Sides: Managing Expectations Thanksgiving sides complement the main course, just as managing candidate expectations complements the background screening process. It's crucial to communicate realistic timelines and potential delays, as well as any potential hurdles that candidates might face during the screening. 16

Set expectations for when candidates can expect results and let them know that you will keep them informed throughout the process. This proactive approach can reduce candidate anxiety and frustration.

5. The Dessert: Positive Closure Thanksgiving dessert is the sweet ending to a great meal, just as the conclusion of the background screening process should leave candidates with a positive impression. Communicate the results promptly, whether they are clear for hire or require further discussion. When delivering sensitive or challenging information, approach it with empathy and professionalism. Offer guidance on how any issues can be resolved, and reassure candidates of your commitment to a fair and thorough evaluation.

6. The Leftovers: Post-Screening Support After Thanksgiving, there are often leftovers to enjoy in the days following the meal. Similarly, post-screening support is essential for candidates. Provide candidates with any necessary resources, such as guidance on addressing discrepancies in their background check or information on next steps in the hiring process. Be available to answer their questions and offer assistance as needed. Even if the screening process is complete, maintaining a positive relationship with candidates can leave a lasting impression and foster goodwill.

7. The Thank You Note: Expressing Gratitude Just as a thank you note is a thoughtful gesture after Thanksgiving, expressing gratitude to candidates for their participation in the background screening process is a must. Let candidates know that you appreciate their cooperation and the time they invested in the process, whether they are selected for the position or not. A simple thank-you email or note can leave a positive impression and help maintain a positive relationship with candidates for future opportunities.

Conclusion Successfully communicating with candidates during the background screening process is akin to preparing a delightful Thanksgiving meal. By following the key ingredients outlined in this article – clear communication, personalization, transparency, managing expectations, positive closure, post-screening support, and expressing gratitude – HR professionals, talent acquisition directors, and recruiters can create a candidate experience that is memorable for all the right reasons. Just as a well-executed Thanksgiving dinner leaves guests eager for the next gathering, a positive candidate experience can leave candidates enthusiastic about future opportunities within your organization. Data Facts |


of chief human resource officers report their organizations are hiring and experiencing challenges in recruiting qualified candidates.* Learn to help your organization attract and retain top talent at a time and place most convenient for you with a SHRM seminar. Explore upcoming in-person and virtual talent acquisition and retention seminars including: • Compensation and Benefits: Unlock the Power of Total Rewards**

Learn about the full breadth of total rewards to develop your unique strategy in the areas of compensation, benefits and experience.

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Help shape your workforce today! Visit *Source: 2023 CHRO Business Outlook Report: A Shift to Focus on Retention, SHRM **Seminar is part of a SHRM specialty credential

A Drug-Free Workplace vs. A Work-Free Drug Place By ANDREW J. HEBAR and BRENDAN M. WALSH


very great, eye-catching article requires something fascinating. What could be more appropriate in accomplishing that goal than statistics? According to the Tennessee Department of Labor, 60% of the world’s illegal drugs are consumed in the United States, and 70% of those drug users are employed. Twenty-five percent of employed Americans aged 18-35 have used illegal drugs, and 20% of young workers have admitted to using marijuana at work. It is further estimated that 38-50% of workers’ compensation claims are related to drug use. In addition to these already bleak statistics, drug users also incur 300% higher medical costs, are 2.5 times more likely to be absent eight or more times per year, are 1/3 less productive than non-drug-users, and have a higher turnover rate (and it costs an average of $7,000 to replace a salaried worker). With those statistics in mind, employers should be focused on exactly how they are tackling these problems – or potential problems – in their own workforce. While this might seem like the perfect segue into a whole-hearted endorsement of drug-testing policies in all workplaces, the matter is more complex than meets the eye. In addition to the fear that drugtesting will cause a loss of employees in and of itself, COVID-19 also left its own impact on the workforce. It brought about staffing challenges even greater than those before it. Along with all of the other challenges facing businesses during that time, employers became more acutely aware of marijuana usage specifically (and understandably so, because marijuana is the most highly used drug among Americans aged 12 and older), and the most common question asked by employers during this period was: Do we have to test for marijuana? The answer to this question requires each employer to engage in a risk/ benefit analysis – taking into consideration the impact on production, liability, and workers’ compensation. Employers need to be calculated and cautious before they jump right into the drug-testing, because although Tennessee law allows employers to drug test, employees and applicants may have legal claims based on: • How the test was conducted;

• Whether there could be a claim for defamation involved. The above examples are a non-exhaustive list of potential issues that employers need to take into account when making a decision on when, where, and how to conduct a drug test; who is tested; what substances are tested for; and what those consequences might entail. Due to the complexity of those issues that must be addressed, an employer might simply ask, “Can we exclude marijuana from testing entirely?” “What about only from non-safety sensitive positions?” “What about reasonable suspicion testing?” “What about post-accident testing?” These questions are understandable, and in Tennessee, employers are allowed to exclude marijuana from testing. However, again, a business decision must be made, because while the exclusion of marijuana from testing may make the employer’s job easier, it could also open the employer up to liability. In addition to the legal issues, there are also practical effects and consequences on the business itself, such as on productivity, workplace environment, health and safety, mission and vision, etc. Marijuana is also more complex than it appears. It contains important subparts: CBD and THC. Cannabidiol, or “CBD”, is one of the main compounds found in cannabis (marijuana), and is a non-psychoactive component. Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or “THC” is the psychoactive intoxicant, which results in the not-so-legal “high” that cannabis produces. There are varying levels of CBD/THC oil that are legal. In Tennessee, CBD oil containing less than 0.9% THC has been authorized for limited medical conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease, ALS, certain cancers, epilepsy or seizures, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, HIV/AIDS, and Sickle cell disease. Outside of those medical conditions, CBD can still be sold and purchased. However, the drug must contain less than 0.3% THC, otherwise it is illegal. The cannabis industry is quite extensive but is largely unregulated. Assuming employers make the legal/business decision to drug test for marijuana/CBD, they will run into potential issues. All forms of marijuana and CBD products can produce a positive test result and there is no way to tell whether the result is from a legal or illegal product. Irrespective of that issue, and the presence of illegal amounts of THC (or the lack thereof ), in Tennessee, employers can terminate for a positive marijuana screen.

• Whether ADA protection was in place for an applicant taking medication for a disability;

Until this point, an appropriate (though unconfirmed) assumption has been made: that Tennessee law applies. There is, however, a chance that multi-state jurisdictional issues arise. If this is the case, then employers should consider amending their drug testing policies and procedures to ensure relevance to, and compliance with, the legal standards prescribed by each state.

• Whether an employee or a group of employees was singled out in a discriminatory manner (age, race, gender, etc.);

While state requirements are loosely limited, at least in Tennessee, there are federal requirements that are slightly more stringent. For example,

• Who was tested; • How the results were used;


• Whether there was an invasion of privacy; and

the federal government requires testing in safety sensitive industries, including transportation, aviation, contractors with NASA and the DOD, and the D.O.T. (along with F.M.C.S.A. adopted regulations regarding testing of CDL operators). If these federal regulations apply, the responsibility cannot be delegated, and employers can be held responsible for service agent errors as well as resulting civil penalties due to noncompliance. In the interest of incentivizing employers to strive for a cleaner workforce, Tennessee created the Tennessee Drug-Free Workplace Program. Under this program, employers enjoy a 5% premium credit on Employer’s workers’ compensation insurance policies. The program also creates a presumption that in the event that an employee fails a post-injury drug test, intoxication was the proximate cause of the injury. This presumption can only be rebutted by clear and convincing evidence. In addition, termination of an employee due to a failed drug test could disqualify the employee from unemployment or enhanced workers’ compensation benefits. Although the employer who takes part in the Tennessee Drug-Free Workplace Program receives a certain number of benefits (as listed above), some of their previously enjoyed elective decisions are struck. Under the Tennessee Drug-Free Workplace Program, employers are required to test: • Employees in safety sensitive positions; • Following a workplace accident that results in an injury;

• As part of routine fitness-for-duty exam (if required by the employer’s policy); • As a follow-up to a required rehabilitation program; or • If there is reasonable suspicion. In the event that employees/individuals are convicted of the illegal use of marijuana/THC, is it possible to see pardons of employees/individuals? While Biden urges states to grant pardons, the federal government cannot force states to do this because the vast majority of arrests and convictions are under state and local laws. Tennessee convictions will stand and will register on a criminal background check. Tennessee Governor Bill Lee has postured that the idea of pardoning convictions for marijuana/THC usage is not even up for consideration. The legal realm of drug testing and marijuana/CBD/THC is a daunting one. What can employers do to make their jobs easier and their expectations more concrete? The first thing they can do is be very clear and consistent about what their policy is and what their expectations are. Employees and employers should understand exactly what procedures are in place and make sure they are carried out to the letter. These policies and procedures should be clearly presented in a written policy that is easily accessible to all employees. With a clear and consistent policy, and continuous, vigorous execution, employers should find that their business runs smoother, their workforce is cleaner, and their progress, productivity, and profits begin to rise.




Attracting Generation Z Hiring younger employees can have numerous benefits for employers and is unavoidable as the workforce’s current makeup changes. Generation Z (Gen Z) workers can bring strong digital skills, energy, creativity and new ideas to your organization. They are also a rapidly growing percentage of the workforce. A study by analytics firm Oxford Economics found that the number of Gen Z workers is expected to grow to 51 million by 2030.

Understanding Generation Z Gen Z is generally defined as people born between 1997 and 2012. These individuals are often socially conscious, digitally savvy and passionate about career growth. Here’s what employers should know about Gen Z employees: They care about company culture. Gen Z workers seek work environments where they can thrive with caring and supportive leaders. They typically look for jobs at organizations with similar values to their own. They want development opportunities. Younger workers typically prioritize career progression and development opportunities over their older counterparts and may accept lower salaries in exchange. They seek social connection. These workers are part of a socially active generation. Although Gen Z workers are comfortable with digital conversations, they often crave genuine connections and in-person discussions with coworkers.

Attracting Generation Z reate an inclusive culture that shows Gen Z C organizational values align with their own. ncourage corporate citizenship with a commitment to E social causes (e.g., sustainability, social impact, volunteering). Explore pay transparency. reate an efficient interview and hiring process C that avoids multiple rounds of interviews and distant start dates. Emphasize corporate missions and goals. xpose Gen Z workers to new technology and E innovation. I nvest in learning and growth opportunities for employees. Create mentorship programs. I nvolve Gen Z workers in teams and projects early on and offer opportunities to lead.

They’re passionate about flexibility. Gen Z workers want flexibility, autonomy, and work-life balance. They often seek jobs that fit their lives, not the other way around. However, while many value flexibility, others seek strong in-person culture and want to be part of a thriving community. In fact, a recent survey from the National Society of High School Scholars found that 63% of Gen Z workers want in-person training from their employers.

When employers align workplace culture with the wants and needs of Generation Z, they can improve their attraction and retention of young workers. Successfully appealing to this demographic can create a pipeline of talented individuals into an organization’s workforce.


Offer remote or hybrid opportunities. Allow flexible work hours. Explore student loan assistance programs. (615) 250-3334 Contact us today for more attraction and retention resources.


Advancing Disability Inclusion


ctober embodies fall – full of apple picking, hayrides and pumpkin decorating. It’s also when we commemorate National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). You might be wondering why I’m writing about it in November; the reason is straightforward. While it’s always good to create opportunities for employers and employees to collaborate on important initiatives, the fact is that NDEAM shouldn’t be a month on the calendar. It should be year-round.


Add disability to your Employee Resource Groups: members of this ERG can solicit ideas from managers, line up speakers and open the doors to qualified job seekers with disabilities.

Host a disability mentoring day: whether through job shadowing, active mentoring or specific career development activities, connecting with talent – such as those in the CLB program – helps them and definitely helps you better understand how easily they can become valuable members of your team. Include a brown bag lunch to provide a chance for informal discussions.

Reward volunteering: sponsoring activities at local organizations that prepare people with disabilities for work gives back and creates awareness. For example, consider having your hiring managers volunteer to review resumes and stage mock interviews.

Successful investor and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, Warren Buffet, is attributed with saying, “Someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.” Could a truer saying be relevant to the work we do in HR? It’s exactly why disability employment is important: according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 21 percent of people with a disability in the U.S. were employed. That’s unacceptable, and we need to take the steps necessary to move that needle closer to the full employment range. Data on persons with a disability gets collected as part of the Current Population Survey, a monthly sample survey of about 60,000 households that provides statistics on employment and unemployment in the U.S. Among the findings from 2022, the unemployment rate for persons with a disability was about twice as high as the rate for persons without a disability. Persons with a disability tend to be older than persons with no disability, and women are impacted more than men. A considerable proportion of persons with a disability are not in the labor force, which means their voices are not heard, and employers are not addressing their needs. I know what a difference employment services and training can make for those with a disability. One of my passions is the Columbia Lighthouse for the Blind (CLB), an organization for which I’m the board Chair. Since 1900, CLB has been helping the blind – and far less obvious to those of us who are fully sighted – those individuals who are visually impaired. For employers, CLB provides services such as assistive technology – for example, screen readers - and worksite evaluations. For candidates, programs include vocational and situational assessments, resume support, and even travel training to navigate public transportation. Fostering the fundamentals of NDEAM all year round involves the tree-planting experience referenced by Mr. Buffet. We have to start somewhere, and often we start with good intentions and a few seeds. Here are some actionable tips to consider when setting up your organization’s disability employment awareness commitment: 22

Don’t stop where it matters most: disability inclusion doesn’t stop when the person with a disability joins your company. A formal onboarding process complete with a mentor who understands and can reassure about reasonable accommodation procedures, helps new employees acclimate.

In the case of the visually impaired, CLB’s CEO, Tony Cancelosi, frequently reminds us of how truly amazing the results can be for both the employer and the employee. Independence is empowering, and the ability to work brings not only necessary monetary benefits but a deep sense of dignity. And today’s increasingly technological society means AI technology training can better prepare people for the job market whether they are blind, visually impaired or have low vision. Recruiting and employing people with disabilities requires deliberate programs carefully designed to support them in the context of your business. Our labor market woes will continue unless we tap into new talent pools, and there’s one right in front of all of us: people with disabilities. Become an opportunity magnet by making the spirit of NDEAM month front and center in your organization’s year-round raison d’être.

Amy Schabacker Dufrane, Ed.D., SPHR, CAE, is CEO of HRCI® — HR Certification Institute, and is the founder and CEO of HRSI — HR Standards Institute, where she is responsible for driving and disrupting the conversations about building high-performing, strategic HR teams. An engaging thought leader at the intersection of talent strategy and continuous learning, Dr. Dufrane is an award-winning leader and celebrated keynote speaker on the human side of successful business strategy in the 21st century.

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The Transformative Impact of Generative AI on Wellness BY NIRAV DESAI

By now many of us have heard of ChatGPT and the broader field of Generative Artificial Intelligence (GenAI). The popularity of GenAI tools is soaring, garnering millions of users globally, and has become a powerful resource in areas like education, computer programming, travel planning, creativity, and even emotional support. GenAI’s rapid popularity has also led to alarm concerning its misuse (e.g., for writing academic papers or college admissions essays) or its use as a substitute for professionals (e.g., TV and movie writers, travel agents, artists and musicians, programmers). As GenAI and AI in general become more sophisticated, it will become an even greater challenge for HR leaders to help their companies and employees navigate this transformative technology so it can be deployed beneficially.

GenAI in Wellness One area where HR leaders may not have considered GenAI is wellness. But there are several ways GenAI can have a positive impact on mental, emotional, and physical well-being: 1. Therapeutic Conversations: AI-powered chatbots like Woebot offer 24/7 emotional support by engaging users in conversations that mirror therapeutic sessions. This accessibility can alleviate feelings of loneliness and provide a safe space for expression. 2. Personalized Meditative Experiences: GenAI is being used to create personalized meditation sessions. These sessions adapt to user preferences and emotions, enhancing relaxation and mindfulness practices. 3. Creative Expression: For those seeking creative outlets, GenAI tools assist in generating art, poetry, and music. This creative expression can be immensely therapeutic, providing a way for individuals to channel their emotions into something beautiful. 4. Health Tracking and Insights: GenAI is also utilized to analyze health data and provide actionable insights. This helps individuals make informed decisions about their well-being, from fitness routines to dietary choices. 5. Wellness Routines: GenAI could be used to create a customized workout plan, meal plan, or even a wellness itinerary for the day. With the right prompts for restrictions or preferences, people can fine-tune recommendations according to their goals and lifestyle. 24

Flaws and Risks of GenAI in Wellness While the potential benefits of GenAI in wellness are significant, it’s important to acknowledge the potential drawbacks and risks: 1. Lack of Human Connection: Relying solely on AI for emotional support might lead to a decline in genuine human interactions, potentially exacerbating feelings of isolation. 2. Bias and Inaccuracy: GenAI systems can inadvertently amplify biases in their training data. This could lead to inaccurate or insensitive advice, affecting emotional well-being. 3. Privacy Concerns: Sharing personal information with AI tools raises concerns about data privacy and security. Unauthorized access to sensitive data could lead to breaches of trust and psychological distress. 4. Depersonalization of Therapy: While AI chatbots offer accessible therapy-like interactions, they cannot replace the depth and expertise of human therapists. Relying solely on AI for mental health support might hinder users from seeking professional help when needed.

GenAI can undoubtedly add value to the wellness landscape, offering innovative ways to enhance emotional, mental, and physical well-being. However, to fully harness its benefits, we must remain cognizant of its limitations and potential risks. At this stage, companies would be best served to leverage GenAI tools only as complements to humans. Think of it this way: We can take GenAI output and add context that the data models underlying the tools are not (yet) sophisticated enough to incorporate: cultural, societal, ethical, and even commonsensical. By striking a balance between AI-assisted support and human interactions, we can pave the way for a future where AI technology and well-being coexist.

Nirav Desai

SVP and Managing Director Peak Health, a subsidiary of McGriff (404) 497-7522

McGriff MORE InsightsTM

Transform your employee benefits from an expense to a competitive advantage. Our proprietary approach helps you quantify and achieve optimal plan performance across four key areas of your employee benefits program — Managing Costs, Operational Efficiency, Risk Mitigation and the Employee Experience by answering three key questions: • How is your organization doing? • Where should you aim? • What’s the value in getting there? By optimizing benefit plan selection, design, management, and employee engagement, McGriff MORE Insights can help turn your benefits program into a real differentiator that aligns with your organization’s culture and business objectives. Visit to learn more.

Insurance • Risk Management • Employee Benefits ©2023 McGriff Insurance Services, LLC. All rights reserved. McGriff Insurance Services, LLC is a subsidiary of Truist Insurance Holdings, LLC.

Do you prioritize the employee experience? Employee satisfaction is at a decade low, with benefits satisfaction dropping to 61% in 2023. To make matters worse, there’s a huge gap between actual employee satisfaction and employer-perceived employee satisfaction.* Satisfaction With Employee Benefits



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Learn how to close the gap at the SHRM Talent Conference & Expo 2024, April 14-17, in Las Vegas & virtually.


Register by Dec. 15 to save $300** *Source: As Employee Wellness Declines, Benefits Satisfaction Drops to Decade Low, SHRM, 2023” **savings compare member preview rate to member on-site rates

Las Vegas & Virtual • April 14-17


As the issues facing employers and HR professionals become more frequent, challenging, and complex each year, you need a law firm that provides advice for your specific organization. For over 45 years, Rainey Kizer Reviere & Bell has advised businesses, non-profit organizations, and governmental agencies in all aspects of employment law. To learn how we can assist your organization, please contact us.

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Fostering Inclusive Partnerships Across Sectors Take a sneak peek at our Lunch Panel Presenters. Lean into the conversation focusing on the heart of current issues.

Moderator Arlinda Fair Cathey

Panelist Dr. Mario Brown

Panelist April Carter

Panelist Jessica Mosley

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DEI & Community Engagement Program Director, National Civil Rights Museum

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Director, University of Memphis Center for Workplace Diversity and Inclusion

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Cultivating Changes for a More Inclusive Future

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8:00 AM – 3:00 PM


Strengthen Your Bench:

Succession Planning By LEEANN BAILES FOSTER

“Strengthen Your Bench” – huh? What do you mean, LeeAnn? Have you ever heard this phrase in sports – “You are only as strong as your bench!” This phrase refers to the untimely illness, injury, poor grades, etc. of a person who contributes to the success of the team. Is there someone sitting on the bench who can enter the game without the level and speed of play declining? Hence – the team is only as strong as the players on the bench. Former UCLA and 10-time NCAA National Champion Coach John Wooden coined the term “Competitive Greatness”. He taught us to be ready when called upon. Does your team have a Succession Plan updated and implemented for each of the leaders who contribute greatly to the team’s success? Key positions need a Plan B and even perhaps a Plan C. Read on to learn how to create a World Class Succession Plan – one that will serve to maintain the team’s top performance and quality. I can’t remember where I heard or read this statement – “Make people you Competitive Edge.” I love it! If you have worked with people at all, you know that the team wins AND loses with people. Probably the only ‘thing’ your organization has that your competitors do not have is your PEOPLE. Your workforce is unique to your organization. Invest adequate resources into your People Operations to ensure the organization serves your ‘Competitive Edge’ (your people) well. The #1 expectation of a Leader, according to me, is to build, maintain, and sustain an exceptional team. This is why having a Succession Plan is so important. To keep the team exceptional, decisions and changes will need to be made. Another reason is to help develop a diverse workforce by enabling decision-makers to look at the future makeup of the organization. So - - - let’s get started! There are seven steps involved in Succession Planning: 1. Identify legal and diversity issues to consider. 2. Establish present and future leadership roles and objectives. 3. Make the following lists: 30

a. Key Employees b. Internal High Potential Employees c. External High Potential Candidates. 4. Evaluate the strengths, weaknesses, and readiness for succession in key employees. 5. Focus on the retention of key employees. 6. Identify emergency positions without successors. 7. Plan for positions that cannot be filled internally. Below are 7 (my favorite number!) tips to build and maintain your strong bench: 1. Build a Culture of Trust. In a trusting environment, employees will not feel threatened knowing there is a successor in the wings. 2. Consistently hold quarterly conversations. Doing so well aid in maintaining trust and will keep you informed of an employee’s plans. 3. Start a Leadership Development Program. Teach promising employees to strive for ‘Competitive Greatness”. 4. Create and maintain a visible plan. Create a Leadership Succession Organizational Chart to only be used for showing leaders who plan to be with the organization: a. < 18 months – color these cells RED. b. 18 M to 5 years – color these cells YELLOW. c. > 5 years – color these cells GREEN. Now you have a visible tool at your fingertips to keep you informed as who plans to leave when. Again - - this is nearly impossible to do if you do not create a Culture of Trust. 5. Integrate your succession plan into your hiring strategy. Now that you know who is leaving when, hire candidates who fit the timing. 6. Remember that with some positions, vendors or talent agencies can temporarily step in to assist. 7. Have exiting employees complete a Knowledge Transfer Document. The Best Ever Succession Tool: The Knowledge Transfer Document When an employee informs you regarding his plans to leave the organization, ask him to complete a Knowledge Transfer Document. The exiting employee should complete the following tasks and information: Planning and Pre-Prepping Usually, an employee announces plans to leave an organization or the transfer of an employee well in advance. This

allows time for transition and planning. During the wait, the exiting/transferring employee should: Clean and organize files, both paper and electronic, prepare and leave up-to-date financial and operational reports, update Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and Procedural Manual, and schedule and make introductions to suppliers, clients, vendors, etc. The Knowledge Transfer Document should include a reminder to ensure the replacement employee knows the vision, mission, and core values, discuss/record cultural characteristics and list extracurricular Information. Prepare a Knowledge Transfer Calendar that records tasks done daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annually. Create a vendor/supplier List that contains each company name, service provided, company, address, contact person, and fax umber along with this contact information: e-mail address, mobile number, office number, and company main number. Also include a list of logins, training plan for replacement. Be sure to list/discuss how to navigate industry/company software and leave a list working file names and locations, and a list of open projects and the status of each. Once the plan is created, it must be kept current. There are 7 steps involved here: 1. Develop a recurring time frame, whether semiannually or annually, to review the plan for accuracy and relevance. 2. Maintain the Leadership Organizational Succession Chart. 3. Determine whether the current plan still meets the organizational objectives. 4. Determine whether the candidates have changed and make necessary adjustments in the plan. 5. I encourage you to have each supervisor engage in the 9-Box Exercise. (Perhaps my next article will be about that!) 6. Assess and develop new candidates. What will you leave behind at your organization when you retire or win the lottery? I’ve always dreamed of leaving a powerful and enduring legacy. For HR Professionals, what better legacy is there than to leave a bullet proof organization. Your legacy could be to leave your organization 100% compliant and with an outstanding Succession Plan. After completing a Succession Plan, the organization will have a stronger bench and will be set up to win with people.

Compliance with Compassion…

… using your head, your heart, and your hands to nurture your employees.

TEAM FOSTER HR STRATEGY provides comprehensive human resources consulting services for small to mid-size businesses. Offering turnkey solutions for clients, Team Foster is committed to compliance with compassion. With 30 years of industry experience, LeeAnn excels at relationship management, conflict resolution, and employee engagement. Team Foster works with you to motivate and manage HR issues from the inside out – supporting your existing human resources team and coaching your staff to solve problems with an integrated approach. Team Foster HR helps you build a collaborative corporate culture to further your business goals and strengthen your performance.

LeeAnn B. Foster | Head Coach Leadership & HR Consultant +1 865-719-1177 mobile WWW.TEAMFOSTERHRSTRATEGY.COM



2023 ERISA Welfare Plan Automatic Participant Disclosures Checklist Reprinted from the Bass, Berry & Sims HR Law Talk Blog We recognize that many companies sponsor ERISA welfare benefit plans and will soon be undergoing their open enrollment process and issuing related participant communications. To assist with that process, we have prepared an Automatic Participant Disclosures Checklist for use during open enrollment and throughout the plan year. Note that some of these disclosures may be delivered electronically under certain circumstances.


If you have questions regarding the information in this checklist or would like additional information regarding electronic delivery of notices or other employee benefits-related matters, please contact one of the partners in our Employee Benefits Practice Group. Bass, Berry & Sims’ attorneys advise businesses of all sizes from start-up to international Fortune 500 companies on all facets of employee benefits programs. Additionally, our team counsels individual CEOs and boards on a wide range of executive compensation arrangements.

Employee Benefit Plans

ERISA Fiduciary Guidance

We partner with public and private employers, benefits consultants and third-party administrators in the design, drafting, implementation, amendment, termination and administration of all types of employee benefit plans, including:

Heightened focus on ERISA fiduciaries by the U.S. Department of Labor and plaintiffs’ attorneys has resulted in new regulations, expanded audits and increased litigation. We regularly advise fiduciaries with respect to their duties under ERISA and provide practical and innovative solutions for minimizing fiduciary risk. These services involve a comprehensive fiduciary compliance program that includes a self-audit process, fiduciary training, a documentation package that includes a tailored fiduciary committee charter and investment policy statement, and service provider RFP support.

• Health, life, disability and other welfare benefit plans • Cafeteria plans, including health and dependent care flexible spending accounts • Voluntary employees’ beneficiary associations (VEBAs) • Health savings accounts (HSAs) and health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs) • Wellness programs • Tax-qualified retirement plans, including 401(k), 403(b) and 457 plans; profit sharing plans; and defined benefit pension plans • Multi-employer plans and other collectively bargained plans • Non-qualified deferred compensation plans, including Section 409A compliance • Supplemental executive retirement plans • Employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs), 401(k)-ESOP combinations (KSOPs) and other stock bonus plans • Equity compensation plans, including employee stock purchase plans (ESPPs) and incentive stock option plans • Severance and golden parachute agreements • Multiple employer welfare arrangements (MEWAs)


Employer-Sponsored Health Plans We guide employers through the changing landscape for employersponsored group health plans under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). This includes the provision of information, training and tools that employers need to comply with the ACA. We also advise employers with respect to COBRA and the HIPAA privacy and security rules as they apply to employer-sponsored health plans.


Douglas W. Dahl II | Member (615) 742-7939

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GO CONFIDENTLY. Bass, Berry & Sims listens and responds with creative yet practical counsel. We stay on pace with the complex and rapidly evolving employment landscape, connecting your dynamic human resources needs to proactive strategies. Relationships, reliability, and respect – at the center of our Labor & Employment and Employee Benefits practices.

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SHRM Georgia State Council Announces


The SHRM Georgia State Council is pleased to announce the recipients for its 2023 Awards Recognition Program. The awards categories encompass Chapter, Individual, and Organization recognition options for commemorating outstanding contributions to and advancement of the human resources management profession. Here is a summary overview of the recipients for the Awards Recognition Program for 2023 by Chapter, Individual, and Organization:

ORGANIZATION HR Community Partner


SHRM-Atlanta Chapter Recognized as an organization (i.e., company/institution) that has helped to advance the human resources profession via a partnership of support and community spirit with a local SHRM Chapter, which in this case is SHRM-Atlanta.

Vendor of the Year


Organizational Transformation Group

Innovative Chapter of the Year

Recognized as a vendor that has made a significant contribution to human resources management via support, solution, or service.

Central Savannah River Area (CSRA) SHRM Chapter Recognized as a Chapter that has demonstrated innovation in the execution of a project related to one or more of the SHRM Core Areas.

INDIVIDUAL Willingness to Serve

Angie Walker

Columbus Area SHRM Chapter Recognized as a Chapter volunteer who has willingly and graciously given of her time and talent to actively support, promote, and advance the human resources profession at her local Chapter.

HR Trailblazer

Anquilla Henderson

Greater Henry Country SHRM Chapter Recognized as a forward-thinking Human Resources leader who has boldly taken steps to advance the human resources profession in a significant and impactful way, while blazing a trail for others to follow. 34

All in all, a total of five awards were handed out across six awards categories during the SHRM Georgia State Council annual conference last month in Savannah, Georgia. A special ceremony honoring the recipients was held on October 13, 2023, during the SHRM Georgia State Council 2023 Conference at Lake Lanier. Craig Southern, Chair for the 2023 Awards Recognition Program, emceed this special ceremony, along with Brad Patterson, SHRM Georgia State Council Director. The nomination window that closed on September 15, 2023, was open to receive submissions occurring during the period of July 1, 2021, through June 30, 2023. The nomination pool of submissions proved Georgia is rich and blessed to have an abundance of many talented, creative, and resourceful HR Professionals who are truly dedicated to advancing the human resources management profession. The SHRM Georgia State Council extends its sincere appreciation and gratitude for the important, relevant, and worthwhile work being done by HR Professionals across the state of Georgia as evidenced by the nominations received, giving a very special nod to all of the 2023 nominees, while also applauding and congratulating the efforts of this year’s awards recipients.


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Managed Health Plans, ERISA, and Medical Data: The Coming Storm By W. SEAN HARRISON, CTO

Let’s talk about self-funded health plans. Specifically, let’s explore how they’re typically structured, how they’re managed, and most importantly, how far out of ERISA compliance they often are. Fiduciary compliance for health plans under ERISA has always been a challenge (not least because so many fiduciaries don’t even know that management of their self-funded health plan falls under ERISA), and it’s one that the industry has a history of conveniently setting aside: ‘I’m sure our TPA is handling that,’ or ‘our HR department is making sure everything is above board.’ Don’t you believe it.

Security Act (ERISA) section 724, and Public Health Service (PHS) Act section 2799A-9, as added by section 201 of Title II (Transparency) of Division BB of the CAA” to their clients, who must sign and affirm their compliance with these requirements. These two recent events add up to the following for you and your plan: • All the negotiated rates associated with your self-funded plan are available for download. • Your TPA is expecting you to legally attest to their compliance with the requirements of the GCPCA, retroactively back to December 27th, 2020.

The problem is that the people who are tasked with the day-to-day management and execution of a plan typically aren’t the same ones that are responsible for ERISA compliance. This has been the norm for many years, though, and in tedious reality, audits are rare, and things seem to work out. But what if that changes?

The short version: the buck has been passed to you.

On December 27th, 2020, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 (the ‘CAA’) was signed into law, and it includes several provisions designed to increase transparency in healthcare pricing. Among these provisions are requirements that third-party administrators disclose certain information through a set of machine-readable files. These minimally include:

Not so much.

1. In-Network Rate Files – These files define all the negotiated rates for all in-network providers. They include all the codes for all the covered procedures and service lines, and the negotiated prices for each, on a per-provider / provider group, per-procedure basis. Because each covered procedure and each medical provider in a network will have their own negotiated arrangement, these files can be massive. 2. Out-of-network Allowed Amount File - This file includes information about the maximum allowed amounts and billed charges for services rendered by out-of-network providers during a specified timeframe, also down to the individual procedure code level. 3. Pharmacy Benefits File - This file should provide detailed information about prescription drug pricing, including the negotiated rates with pharmacies. Interestingly, the CAA requires these files to be posted publicly, where anyone can download them. “But how does that affect me? This seems like a good thing!” The new availability of these files is changing the compliance landscape, and there are both opportunities and challenges associated with these changes. On February 1, 2022, the United States Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division (DOL) announced a plan to hire at least 100 additional investigators to expand its compliance and enforcement efforts, and the overall number of audits is now increasing. This is combined with a new requirement from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services that TPAs and similar entities that manage health plans on behalf of an employer provide a “Gag Clause Prohibition Compliance Attestation (GCPCA) indicating compliance with Internal Revenue Code (Code) section 9824, Employee Retirement Income 36

You would be justified in thinking “Ok, I can download all of my negotiated rate information now, and my TPA will give me my medical claims data, so I can reconcile everything, begin recovery actions if required, and we’re compliant!”

Let’s talk about the new machine-readable files first. TPAs fought tooth and nail against this requirement, since these files basically detail every backroom deal, they ever make, and they open the door for a flurry of new litigation (witness the most recent $9B suit against MultiPlan amid allegations of price fixing and creating a ‘virtual digital cartel’, based solely on these files). Still, the legislation went through, and the files are available – the TPAs, though, don’t make it easy. They provide very little documentation, the file layouts vary wildly, they can change without warning, and they’re very large – often multiple petabytes in size, so it generally requires a dedicated IT group or external company to find your specific files and extract the relevant information. This is critical, as these files will contain not only your plan information, but the negotiated arrangement of the other plans who also engage your TPA; if you’re wondering what your competitors are paying for a certain family of procedures, the information is available in these files. You might be surprised – pricing disparities across negotiated arrangements between different plans can vary more than 2,000%. That means that there will be procedures that your competitors pay $45.00 for, and your plan might be paying $1,500.00, for the same procedure performed by the same medical provider at the same facility. In the past, there was literally no way for plan fiduciaries to determine this information, short of litigation or otherwise acquiring the bulk claims of their TPA – plan managers could determine that their plan costs were in the same ballpark as many other plans, and claim ‘prudence’, and enjoy a long-term comfortable relationship with their TPA. Those days are over – now, you have access to the negotiated arrangements of other plans that share your TPA – can you claim prudence if you haven’t checked to see if the negotiated arrangements your TPA has made on behalf of your plan are competitive with the other plans your TPA administers? Maybe. It’s likely that many of the answers will reside in your raw medical claims data as well. Actual paid amounts, out of pocket costs, and all

the real revenue streams will be included in your medical transaction data. Acquiring your own medical claims data from your TPA can be a challenge, though; many TPAs will include contractual language that limits the total number of records they have to provide (often 200 or less) for auditing and assessment purposes. These requirements are now unenforceable under federal law, but the TPAs will usually try to stick to them, nonetheless. In some cases, you may find it necessary to engage a lawyer to compose a legal ‘ask’ just to get the medical transactions that legally belong to your plan members. Assuming you’ve successfully navigated these challenges, the DOL expects you to be able to associate your medical claims transactions with the defined negotiated arrangements per-procedure per-provider, and then determine if your plan has been managed in a prudent manner. Nothing to it, right? You have until December 31st, 2023, so you better get moving. December 31st, 2023 is the cutoff date for the GCPCA to be signed; this is where you and your plan confirm that your TPA complies with (and has complied with) all of the requirements of the GCPCA – this means you’re legally affirming that your TPA didn’t include any ‘gag clauses’ or similar contractual restrictions that might preclude you from acquiring your health care pricing and quality data from them. Please note that this attestation applies retroactively all the way back to December 27th, 2020, so be very sure you’re not making a false attestation. The burden of ensuring contracts are free of gag clauses rests entirely on employers, not their vendors. Access to previously confidential information also binds employers to use that data to drive improvements and make informed decisions for the plan as a core part of their fiduciary obligations.

Got all that? The advent of the CAA, the GCPCA requirement, the new availability of machine-readable files combined with the continuing recalcitrance of TPAs in actually handing over medical claims – these very recent changes were designed to make compliance possible, not easy. TPAs in particular lobbied for changes that were beneficial to their own models, and now we’re faced with a perfect storm – increasing audits from a DOL that assumes that everyone now has access to their data, TPAs publishing machine-readable information that requires deep IT specialization and significant hardware to use, new attestation requirements that will require significant research and may not be something you want to execute (possibly requiring you to retain a new TPA), and a clock ticking down to December 31st. It’s time to get moving. There are companies who specialize in helping employers navigate these waters, who have been planning and building their own infrastructures to deal with this data, to work with the TPAs, to assist you in acquiring, storing, and leveraging your data. In the past, plan fiduciaries could just take out some insurance, hand everything off to HR or their TPA, and forget about it; those days are gone. In order to achieve and maintain compliance under ERISA, in order to be able to demonstrate prudence, you’ll need to become part of the process. You need a partner. BCI can help.

W. Sean Harrison, CTO

Benefits Claims Intelligence (BCI)

Ensuring Claims Payment Integrity For Your Self-Insured Health Plan • AI-based software for identifying claims payment and processing errors • Recoupment expertise to recover funds from improperly adjudicated claims • Capabilities for ongoing monitoring of claims payments to uphold plan efficacy • Timely guidance to assure ERISA compliance TWO GREAT FREE ITEMS FOR YOU AVAILABLE NOW! 1. BCI’s “Summary Statement” which we will create from your recent plan claims data to advise you of discrepancies/ irregularities in claims payments and/or confirmation of proper adjudication. 2. BCI’s new 3-Part White Paper consisting of our “Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 Synopsis”, “Guidelines for Administrative Agreements”, and “Legal Q&A” prepared by BCI’s legal department. To request these free items today, please email us… Benefits Claims Intelligence


Jennifer McCollum CEO of Linkage, a SHRM Company; Author of In Her Own Voice: A Women’s Rise to CEO

Women Leaders to Gather in Orlando to Examine Workplace Challenges, Advance Solutions Linkage, a SHRM Company​,​Hosts Women in Leadership Institute Four-Day Immersive Experience ORLANDO, FL – The hurdles to advancement in the workplace for women have never been greater, with burnout at an all-time high. The Linkage Women in Leadership Institute equips women leaders with actionable strategies to overcome these hurdles and advance in their careers while lifting those around them. From Monday, November 13 to Thursday, November 16, Linkage and SHRM will host the Women in Leadership (WIL) 2023 institute in-person and virtually in Orlando, Florida at the Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate. Designed for individuals and groups, WIL allows women the opportunity to come together for a transformative leadership development experience. WHEN: Monday, November 13 – Thursday, November 16th, 2023 WHERE: 1500 Masters Boulevard, ChampionsGate, FL, 33896 WHO: • Shannon Bayer, VP, Revenue, Linkage • Maggie Cook, CEO and founder, Maggie’s Salsas, LLC • Anne Chow, former CEO, AT&T Business • Molly Fletcher, pioneering female sports agent and CEO •C arla Harris, senior client advisor, Morgan Stanley; co-chair, Women in Leadership Institute • Jennifer McCollum, CEO, Linkage; Author, In Her Own Voice • Reshma Saujani, founder and CEO, Moms First; Founder, Girls Who Code About Linkage, Inc. Linkage is a global leadership development firm committed to advancing women and accelerating inclusion in leaders and organizations, trusted by more than 250 clients across industries. For more than 30 years, Linkage has been changing the face of leadership by impacting organizational effectiveness and equity. Through its work with more than one million leaders, Linkage continues to evolve its unique datasets, insights and innovative products to create comprehensive solutions—empowering top organizations to solve their most pressing talent challenges. About SHRM SHRM creates better workplaces where employers and employees thrive together. As the voice of all things work, workers and the workplace, SHRM is the foremost expert, convener and thought leader on issues impacting today’s evolving workplaces. With nearly 325,000 members in 165 countries, SHRM impacts the lives of more than 235 million workers and families globally. Learn more at


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1 Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., President and CEO of SHRM, was the opening keynote speaker. 2 Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., with the 2023 Mississippi SHRM State Council 3 Shonda Kines, MBA, SHRM-CP, PHR, CCP, CBP, FLMI, Director of the Mississippi SHRM State Council, and Director of HR at Southern Farm Bureau Life Insurance, welcomed attendees. 4 Attendees celebrated annual SHRM Day on September 26. 5 Jacquelyn Mack, SHRM -CP, PHR, Marketing & Public Relations, led a discussion with Johnny C. Taylor, Jr. 6 The Golden Triangle Human Resource Association Chapter 7 Sheila Farr, MA, SHRM-SCP, Workforce Readiness Director for the MSSHRM State Council, spoke on effective crisis management. 7 40












8 Misty McCraw, SHRM-CP, PHR. President of SHRM GTHRA, McCraw Consulting, spoke on “The Gen Z Advantage.” 9 Mary Cheddie, SHRM-SCP, SHRM Divisional Director East, presented “AI in HR: Harnessing its Power and Embracing its Challenges.” 10 Congratulations to the GCHRA 2023 Chapter Award Winners! (L- R) Ruth Montana, Lifetime Achievement Award; Dusti Pisarich, SHRM-CP, HR Professional of the Year; and Leah Jenkins, Emerging Professional 11 Brenda Barron, SHRM Foundation Director, presented the Spirit Award to Jennifer Hall. 12 Shonda Kines, MBA, SHRM-CP, PHR, CCP, CBP, FLMI, Director of the Mississippi SHRM State Council, and Melissa Drennan, SHRM-CP, PHR, Director (2019-2020) 13 Dr. Casey Funderburk, Associate Professor at the University of Southern Mississippi, spoke on “The Ecosystem of Learning.” 14 Pam Confer, PhD, was the closing speaker. She presented, “Your Winning HR Style.” 15 Winners of the closing drawing for free registration for the 2024 Mississippi SHRM Conference and CASH! 16 The Hub International booth 17 The University of Southern Mississippi booth 18 The Columbia Southern University booth










1 The SHRM Georgia State Council 2 Award Winner - CSRA SHRM Innovative Chapter Award 3 Foothills of Georgia chapter members 4 Monique Akanbi, SHRM Field Services Director 5 Mike Aitken, SHRM Chief Membership Officer 6 Cynthia Thompson was the opening speaker on Thursday. Her topic was Ethics. 7 Monique Jenkins and Donna Williams, conference director and conference emcee














8 Conference attendees 9 Savannah Chapter members 10 Kat Kibbens, Thursday lunch keynote 11 Award Winner - HR Community Partner of the Year – Cooleaf, with Jason Cline of SHRM-Atlanta 12 Award Winner - State Council Vendor of the Year – Organizational Transformation Group (OTP), Dr. Timothy Williams, Sr. 13 Award Winner - Willingness to Serve – Angie Walker, SHRM Columbus 14 Award Winner – Anquilla Henderson -HR Trailblazer-Greater Henry SHRM 15-19 SHRM Georgia vendors















1 Mike Aitken, SHRM Chief Membership Officer addressed a sold out crowd at The HRSouthwest Conference in Ft. Worth, Texas 2 Keynote Speakers at The HRSouthwest Conference 3 Over 1300 HR professionals in attendance at The HRSouthwest Conference 4 Rose Ann Garza, Texas SHRM State Director, catches up with Cynthia. Watch our video on LinkedIn. 5 DallasHR Members 6 Kaitlyn Vicars, Texas HR Volunteer Leader of the Year 7 All “hats” and no cattle 8 SHRM Foundation Fundraiser 9 James Abeyta Stevens, SHRM New Mexico State Council Director & SHRM Membership Advisory Council (MAC) Representative for the Southwest Central Region. 10 Texas chapter Volunteer Leaders and SHRM staff in the Chapter Hub at The HRSouthwest Conference 11 Some of the sponsors 12 San Antonio SHRM leaders in the Chapter Hub at The HRSouthwest Conference 44

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1 Holley Little, Director of Arkansas SHRM State Council 2 Cindy Ruffing, SHRM-SCP, SPHR, was the ARSHRM Conference Chair. 3 Broderick PRESENTING Daniels, Diversity Chair for the ARSHRM State Council, and the Programs Co-Chair and 2024 Conference Chair 4 ClaytonSPONSOR Lord, Director of Programswith the SHRM Foundation, spoke on Widening Pathways to Work in Arkansas. 5 2023 ARSHRM Conference Committee 6 The 2024 Arkansas SHRM Conference Committee 7 Seated (L-R) Shayne King, Holley Little, Standing (L-R) Mary Augustin, Cathleen Hoffman 46





8 Cindy Ruffing and Steve Cadigan, opening keynote speaker. His topic was Align HR: What Employers Need to Know. 9 Windstream was recipient of Best Practice Award 10 (L-R) Minnie Lenox was the recipient of the Jim Wilkins Lifetime Achievement Award with Tim Orellano and Tara Mauk Arthur 11 Averee Deck was the recipient of the J. C. Cote Scholarship










12 Tim Keck with Safehaven Security Group was a speaker. He spoke on the Top 10 Practical Steps to Safe Terminations and Comprehensive De-Escalation 13 Cliff Sandsmark with JER HR Group was an exhibitor and speaker. Cliff spoke on Navigating the Future of Total Rewards with Michele Burns. 14 Tim Orellano spoke on Discipline and Terminations. 15 Sheila Moss, the “I-9 Lady”, provided an update on I-9 forms. 16 Tammy Barthel was the recipient of the Arkansas Outstanding HR Professional Award 17 ARSHRM Chapter Presidents 18 Qual Choice 19 Gallagher 20 Northwest Health


MASTERING A CAREER IN HUMAN RESOURCES WGU’s Master of Science in Human Resource Management There’s never been a more critical time for inclusive and strategic HR practices to support business success and employee experience. That’s why WGU is excited to announce its Master of Science in Human Resource Management (MSHRM) is designed to align with SHRM and HRCI curriculum standards and guidelines.

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Rebecca O.

B.S. Human Resource Management, 2022

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