The Employers' Association

The Employers’ Association (TEA) is a not-for-profit employers’ association, formed in 1939, with offices in Grand Rapids serving the West Michigan employer community. We help more than 600 member companies maximize employee productivity and minimize employer liability through human resources and management advice, training, survey data, and consulting services.

TEA is in the business of helping people. This blog is intended to address human issues, concerns and the things that impact people - be they self-perpetuated or externally imposed. Feel free to respond to the thoughts presented here, for without each other, we are nothing!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Our nation faces the potential for unprecedented political change during the coming year. Regardless of the actions taken by those currently holding office – be they good or bad – a groundswell of emotion is sweeping the country crying out in a voice that demands “out with the old – in with the new!” In our rush to change, however, I fear much may be lost in the process.

Many candidates are relying on the platform of “replacement” to carry them through rather than one of solutions and substance. Change, promised several years ago, is coming to fruition – but not as anticipated. Healthcare reform, while necessary, may have moved in too quick (and costly) a way to gain support. A shift in military priorities from Iraq to Afghanistan – along with the replacement of our military leadership in that effort – has not reduced the price paid as we promote freedom in the world. The BP Oil Spill has replaced Hurricane Katrina as this Administration’s crisis point – yet those needing assistance are receiving little more than was provided to Hurricane survivors. While we need change in actions, electing individuals who demonstrate personal responsibility and integrity may be an important (and necessary) precursor to change.

Listen to the candidates before casting your vote this summer. As you vote for new leadership in the fall, listen to the substance of each candidate’s campaign. Do they take accountability for what has been done in the past or simply blame others for “breaking” what they intend to fix? Do they accept responsibility for making things happen in the future or are they riding the wave of change – promising “different” without defining what that might be? In order to forge lasting change, YOU must help to make a difference by voting for candidates that actively seek the truth within each promise they make and listen to the people they will represent rather than to their affiliated party.

Change is inevitable but only controlled change can be by design. Help to make change anticipated and sustainable by getting the facts before you act – then by voting with your head rather than your emotions!

Friday, June 11, 2010


America was built upon the belief that individuals can realize unlimited opportunity through hard work and the effective utilization of resources if a superior product or service is produced that appeals (and sells) to a consuming public. Implied within this basic tenant is that while we ARE created equally, we possess different gifts, abilities and competencies so we ARE NOT presumed to be equal in our ability to produce or achieve results. Not everyone can be a professional athlete, a teacher, a counselor, a leader, a writer, or an innovator…or any of a score of other occupations that require specialized skills or unique temperaments. While we all taste success, life is an environment of equitability rather than of equality. Our efforts do not create EQUAL results - they produce results that reflect EQUITABLY against the abilities we have developed, the intelligence we apply, and outcomes we achieve.

It is with sadness that I read of attacks on these basic principles. Schools tend to teach to the middle – spending far too little on creating opportunity for the less gifted and failing to advance the talents and abilities of those towards the top. Labor unions (though far less prevalent within private industry) flourish within government entities by bringing concepts that “everyone is equal” and “pay equality for all based on time in grade” (rather than for performance) into the workplace. Field days are disappearing from elementary schools because some children are not able to compete with others (often due to their own lifestyle choices) and we do not want them to feel “badly” should they not win or taste the same success as others. I recently heard of a competitive soccer league that installed a “five goal difference” rule to eliminate embarrassing losses – but rather than ending the game early (as is traditionally done), a team winning by more than five goals would be declared loser of the contest.

Our country has survived many challenges from outside our borders – as we were able to reflect upon during the recent Memorial Day Holiday. If the greatness of our country is to survive, we must brace ourselves to overcome attacks from within – attacks on an individual’s ability to demonstrate excellence, the opportunity to reap the rewards of individual efforts, and the belief that one is limited ONLY by his or her own shortcomings – by embracing the freedoms and unlimited possibilities we currently share.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


When you see a storm coming, do you think about the destruction that it will bring – the ways that your daily activities will be inconvenienced – or do you think of the beauty and power that will be displayed and the sense of freshness that remains once it’s passed? When someone tries to bring you down so they can feel more important and self-assured, do you accept the mantle of subservience or do you rise above it by recognizing (and acting upon) the reason for the attack rather than allowing yourself to be diminished by it? When life hands you lemons, do you wallow in your misfortune seeking comfort and support from others or do you set up a lemonade stand to profit from the troubles that have originated through no direct fault of your own?

While “bad things happen” in our lives everyday, they often cannot be attributed to any direct action we consciously take. We can grow from adversity only if we accept challenges as but temporary set-backs that attempt to block the path we’ve chosen while seeking our planned destination rather than allowing ourselves to be stopped dead in our tracks by their very presence. Summer brings with it a sense of new beginnings and new perspectives. Internalize this fresh start by looking for the “silver lining” within each cloud that passes your way. Seek the rainbow at the end of every storm. Rather than projecting only what others would have you to be, radiate all you have to offer to those around you as you intentionally seek to make a difference.