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, August 31, 2010


Labor Day, the creation of organized labor meant to recognize the social and economic achievements of American workers, has become an annual tribute to the contributions our nation’s workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.

New York City workers celebrated the first Labor Day in 1882. The first governmental recognition for the Holiday came through municipal ordinances passed during 1885 and 1886. Oregon became the first state to enact a law recognizing the Holiday in 1887. By 1894, 30 other states had followed suite in honoring workers. Congress passed an act making the first Monday in September of each year a legal holiday shortly thereafter.

A street parade exhibiting to the public "the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations" of the community followed by a festival for the recreation and amusement of workers and their families were focal points of the first Holiday. As time passed, speeches have placed more emphasis on the economic and civic significance of the holiday than on the labor organizations at its roots.

The character of the Labor Day celebration has undergone changes in recent years. It has become associated with the end of summer and a return to “business as usual.” Children return to school (delayed until after the Holiday by many states until the “vacation season” is done). With private sector union representation declining in our country, it has become a day to celebrate the American worker, his or her lifestyle, and the contribution our workforce has made to making ours one of the highest standards of living with the greatest rate of productivity the world has ever known.

At issue as we celebrate another Labor Day is whether or not the values of our past will carry forward into the future – whether the impact that generations of independent, hard-working individuals have had on our country and its wealth – will survive.

We should pause to consider that Labor Day recognizes and celebrates the American Workforce –the spirit that anyone can succeed if he or she is willing to identify a goal, to work hard towards its accomplishment and to sacrifice much for its fulfillment. Do not allow Labor Day to become simply another day off from work. It has grown beyond being a “worker’s Holiday” to a time meant to recognize the work we have accomplished and to celebrate the work that must still be done.

Friday, August 20, 2010


A Human Resource Professional must address tough situations every day. Many times he or she is called upon to make decisions that are "right" for their company but could be uncomfortable for someone else - possibly even to the point of jeopardizing their own job. Making the "right" decision isn't always easy BUT it is all a part of the day for HR Decision-makers. How would YOU handle THESE situations (all really happened) if they were to occur under YOUR watch?

A business owner, strong in sales, walked through his shop talking to employees along the way. He promised to fix this and repair that - but didn't really have the resources to do anything about the problems. His Plant Manager followed in his wake attempting to "undo" the damage his President's hollow promises had done. What would YOU do if you were in a position to make a recommendation to this business owner?

An employee with a poor attendance history had to be let go when her car broke down on the way back from visiting her mother in the hospital. You must enforce the company's attendance policy, greeting the popular, long-term employee at the door with her termination notice. It seems like everyone in the company wants to give the individual "one last chance" though she has clearly abused the system (even though she is portraying that she was fired for visiting her mom in the hospital). What would you do - and how would you handle the termination (if you choose to go that route)?

An employee complains about harassment in the workplace then says he “wants nothing to be done about it – that just talking to you made him feel better.” When you pursue the matter a bit, the employee tells you that if you talk to anyone about his complaint he will never speak to you in confidence again AND he will tell everyone that you cannot be counted on to keep a confidence. What would your next steps be in such a situation?

While most HR Professionals ARE NOT attornies, it seems that we are asked to be "judge and jury" many times in our daily lives. Send me a comment describing how YOU would handle these situations...and feel free to share a situation or event YOU'VE HEARD ABOUT (for others to respond to) when you reply!

Friday, August 13, 2010


The sun was shining bright that day,
The skies did seem quite cloudy…
Spring's silent promise filled the air,
While thunder rumbled loudly…

Success within his grasp was sweet,
But failure fell upon him…
The nightmares of past losses clear,
Life’s dreams fought to supplant them…

Lemons were all ripe for harvest,
Though apples were abundant…
With lemonade his specialty,
Thoughts of cider seemed redundant…

These senseless thoughts and wanderings
Must quickly reach an end…
For life is not the things we’ve done,
Its hopes still ‘round the bend…

I hope you are having an enjoyable summer - and taking the time to make lemonade from any bitter fruit that passes your way. We often find ourselves beneath a fallen house of cards when we let troubles get the best of us – buried by life’s circumstances as they crash down around us. If we consciously chose to conquer just one thing at a time – even if we seem to fall two steps back for every step taken forward – simply making progress brings us closer to realizing the hopes and dreams awaiting us just 'round the bend...

Monday, August 9, 2010


Why are some people invigorated by a seemingly insurmountable task while others seem paralyzed by the same situation? Some see the opportunity to make progress towards the completion of a project while others shut down unless they see an immediate conclusion well within their reach. Other than the obvious propensity towards taking risks, I would venture that there is one underlying characteristic differentiating the two attitudes – the ability to question “why not?” before acting rather than needing to understand “why” before formulating a plan.

“If only…” will never define “what is…” When we trap ourselves within the world of excuses by asking what might have happened “if only” we had acted differently, we lose sight of reality. Dwelling upon things NOT accomplished will never initiate change – it only reinforces your limitations (rather than celebrating your abilities).

Some individuals act in accordance with established policy, practice or procedure whether or not that may be the best way to do something. Others constantly question what they are asked to do as a means to test and temper the validity of an action prior to its being taken. What good does it do to advance an idea that does not make a difference when implemented – or to act without benefiting either yourself or another? One will never experience their full potential by seeking comfort within a world defined by other’s expectations.

As the sands of time fall to the bottom of summer’s hourglass, focus upon the things you have experienced rather than the things that “COULD have been accomplished IF ONLY you had not run out of time.” Somehow, building from a foundation of “what is” seems much more relevant to life than hiding behind “What could have been” or “Why try.”