Thought Leadership Blog

The HRS Thought Leadership Blog delivers validated findings, visionary perspectives and op/ed commentaries related to HR, Leadership, Organizational Development and Employment Law. To enjoy the full volume of available articles, please enter topic keywords in the search box to explore our body of work. Articles are regularly presented by the HRS team and guest experts.

HR Advice from Nonprofit Associations Can Be Lethal! Non-legit Nonprofits Lurk Among Those that Deserve Our Support.

Make no mistake. HRS has been a substantial supporter of worthy nonprofits since our inception, and our Angel Wings and HRS Gives Back programs are fabulous examples. In the face of that, certain nonprofit associations, not specifically tied to greater good, are abusing tax-exempt status, betraying taxpayers and delivering dangerous advice. We warn to be wary. 

A disreputable few nonprofits are beginning to cross the line and betray their status. In the world of HR, employer membership associations done well can be great places to swap case studies, find research, attain broad-based information and acquire non-custom tools. Those that promise to give advice, however, are in direct conflict with IRS tax code and their rights to the tax breaks they demand. Specifically, IRS tax exempt status prohibits a nonprofit from serving, addressing or advocating specific interests of individuals or individual members. This IRS covenant stands to prove that any nonprofit addressing the unique interest or custom need of an individual member is likely practicing tax fraud and is specifically ill-equipped to provide meaningful adaptive solutions of quality caliber. Some are delivering dangerously poor advice, resulting in six or seven-figure disaster for constituents. One such criminal was recently found distributing an employment application template unlawfully bearing a social security number field. 

HRS continues to support, contribute to and partner with a wealth of professional associations relevant to our fields of study. You will find our logos and sponsorships proudly displayed. The best of them provide complimentary benefit to tax paying consulting firms and internal employer expertise. Similarly, IRS code also requests nonprofits to refrain from providing service available in the private sector market from tax paying employers. Any nonprofit that dramatically changes its service line in recent decades does not find itself exempt from responsibility to tax exemption covenants. Criminal behavior remains the outcome.

We at HRS embrace additional opinions on any topic of consequence. Our own boardroom approach to client problem solving demonstrates our ideology. Our multi-rater approach to assessment scoring further validates. With HRS, you already find holistic approach and several experts represented in any single proposed solution. As far as competition, we welcome competition. Today, seven critical disciplines fall under the HR umbrella, and the generalist needs specialist partners to get it done right. Having opened our doors before widespread HR demand at executive level, we welcome those who help us promote the critically expanded role of HR and those who keep us on our toes.

However, in a world where worthy nonprofits that save lives, advocate human rights and protect our kids are starving for government support and are suffering government cutbacks, we demand the non-legit nonprofits back away from the table. When nonprofits compete with tax paying firms, by definition and tax code, the nonprofit is not a legitimate nonprofit… in the wrong and abusing greater good. Tax breaks, grants and donations are sadly misguided when nonprofits dishonor their status. Buyers and taxpayers are called to use their voice and their buying power to encourage reform for greater good. 


Jessica Ollenburg - Tuesday, April 07, 2015


P3 Compliance and Constructing Policies That Hold Up in Court

The Department of Labor tells us they are overwhelmed, understaffed and shifting additional burden to employers for employment law compliance. This can be a great deal for the average employer to undertake.  HRS has taken some time to prepare a quick “how to” blueprint for employers.

P3, also called “Plan/Prevent/Protect” or “P Cubed,” will require every entity covered by the FLSA, OSHA, OFCCP, and MSHA to make written plans ("Plan"), create processes ("Prevent"), and test the processes with designated compliance employees ("Protect").

The following guidelines create a simplified and sustainable P3 protocol:


1. Stay On Top of Changing Laws.

Review not only government postings, but also secure a 3rd party compliance expert as needed and for annual overview.  Our “overwhelmed” government states outright there is no government responsibility to educate employers.  Enforcement is their responsibility, however, and fundraising is high.  Case precedent law is just as impactful here as statutory law.  While it is necessary to be a member of the Bar to litigate or serve as “officer of the court,” it is not necessary to be a member of the Bar to be a legal compliance expert.  Full-time research commitment is essential for such expertise. 

2. Avoid Copycat or Adaptation of Other Employers’ Handbooks.

Beyond the immediate intellectual property law threats, other employers are not recognized as experts.  “Because Company X Did It” is not a reasonable defense. There are some terribly non-compliant practices circulating out there like “old wives’ tales.” Even policies that actually work for one company may not work for yours.

3. Build Legal Arguments from Day One.

Maintain records to prove either experts consulted on or approved your policies… or if self-constructed… save expert resources and statutory evidence as future “reasonable care” affirmative defense.  Use scenario planning to create and document activities which defend the company against complaint. “Willful violations” pose the greatest threat.  Negligence and lack of attention can be considered “willful” acts.

4. Protect Chain of Information.

Knowing what to keep and for how long as well as what not to keep are essential. Knowing who can have access and how to use this information without breaching privacy laws or risking discriminatory complaint are equally essential. 

5. Follow Policy Outcomes.

With the overuse of “cookie cutter” policies, many companies are unaware that better policy options exist.  Regardless of genesis for your policy, track outcomes to ensure it is working for you and not creating adverse impact or unlawful side effects.  Designate specific individuals with reasonable ongoing access, and empower them with job description authority to monitor policy success.


HRS offers extraordinary legal compliance expertise, P3 design services and further information on any topic herein. Consider an HR certification audit as proactive P3 compliance. ROI is exponential.

Jessica Ollenburg - Monday, January 23, 2012


Team Motivation Principles: Debunk the Crazy Propaganda that All CEOs are Greedy!

With a small percentage of “hired gun” CEOs being called out for ridiculous greed… and flaunting it, our legislative and media communities are creating a dangerous misperception which threatens not only the immediate workplace but also the US’s global position.  Simply stated, so many CEOs are not greedy, and these are the people who can really impact the economy. So, why do we rake them over the coals?  Having devoted my career to advocating sharing wealth among team members… proportionate to results contribution… I see how wrongful mistrust of the right CEOs negatively impacts workplace results.


This ivory tower perception of “me against you” in the employee-employer relationship tears down employee confidence and teamwork necessary for corporate bottom-line success.  While we all know, “if it bleeds, it leads” in the press, this concept sells publications only because people buy in to this concept.  Blame the media all you want (and I can be heard griping often), the media sells only what the public buys.   


Successful corporations are those that have endured hardship, challenge and downturn.  Discussing the resilience of corporate leadership can lead to positive outcomes.  Without discussing concepts the employee isn’t qualified to process, keep it audience adaptive.   Frame these discussions to build confidence, and don’t present them in a manner which presents weakness or creates fear.   We know overcoming adversity depicts strength while dwelling upon and empowering the obstacles depicts weakness.   The target is not to whine.


The problem is that most people are not the risk takers of entrepreneurism, so if we divulge hardship to those while we’re in it, they may become fearful to buy in and contribute when needed to do so.  There’s nothing wrong with being more conservative here, so we don’t wish to lose the engagement of this audience.  Risk takers “suck it up” and keep their sacrifices private.  When they don’t take a paycheck, when they mortgage their home to pay employees, and when they make lifestyle choices which sacrificed personal or social time, it’s typically not visible.  Later on, the Mercedes-Benz is visible and some people complain of greed.   Those who complain are those who didn’t make the same sacrifices and don’t get it. 


Many CEOs are not "silver spooners."  The plain truth is that most Americans have opportunity to be CEOs themselves and they choose not to.   They choose against the start-up risk, they choose the bar over the office or maybe they have family needs needs which become rightfully prioritized.  To choose not to be a CEO is not wrong.  Personally, I find the “pillow test” the ultimate test of success.  If you’re comfortable with what you did that day when your head hits the pillow, you are successful.   Yet, while emerging CEOs are choosing work over party time, the bars are filled with people complaining about their bosses.   Backstories are emerging right now, illustrating the personal sacrifices made by some of the great US CEOs who have created jobs, shown philanthropy and endured hardship which benefits us all.  Let’s not lump these good people in with the greedy few. 


There are some amazingly great employees out there!  It can be just as difficult to take direction as it is to give it, especially from some of the bad bosses out there.  Amazing employees will probably never realize the benefits of the new COBRA subsidy, as they will probably never see “involuntary termination.”  In most reasonable estimations,  over time less than 1% of corporate downsize decisions are not directly attributed to employee poor performance.  Most downsize decisions are selective.  Employees do have a choice. Absent union protection of service length vs. merit or bad management, top performers typically keep their jobs.  In many cases, better employee performance would have saved the company that need to downsize.  That being said, we hold this to be true:  it is the supervisor’s direct responsibility to ensure the right people are doing the right things.  It’s not a blame-shifting game.  Everyone has a role.


Right now we’re living in a country that penalizes those who create jobs and rewards those who are terminated for cause.  Many believe we live with an administration that seeks to deny free choice under the disguise of the Employee Free Choice Act.  Surely this is no way to compete.  Keep this discussion on the table without creating destructive conflict.  There are facts to be shared and teamwork to be built.   Clearly, government and media are tearing down this important sense of capitalism.  CEOs and organizational development leaders must counteract with the right amount of information needed to restore faith in organizational alignment.   Chances are, the employees who don’t currently buy in are not reading this, so they need to hear it from you!



Jessica Ollenburg - Sunday, March 08, 2009