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 21, 2012


I learned much during a recent trip to Washington – perhaps some that I would have preferred NOT to learn as well.  The random thoughts (and the reactions they generated) would include the following:

Welfare is no longer available to the American people.  The government has, instead, established the acronym TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families), a new program that seeks to increase the minimum wage and provide a safety net for all.  Poverty related to PLACE (poverty due to an individual’s state because of short-term or temporary situations) is an issue that TANF should address and eliminate.  Generational poverty (long-term “handed down” from generation to generation) is a long-term issue that will not be eliminated through TANF as it must be addressed through yet to be developed behavioral transformation.
Can one legislate personal choice or mandate personal responsibility?  In our attempt to provide help to those “without,” are we weakening their resolve to become self-reliant by creating a dependency on the solution?
In regards to healthcare, 100% ACCESS with 0% DISPARITY does not mean we attain 100% EQUITY with no INEQUALITY.  We all have different gifts that, when utilized, result in different rewards proportionate to how much the individual contribution improves the whole.
We tend to focus upon the RESULTS without considering the IMPLEMENTATION.  We see where we are and visualize where we want to be BUT spend far too little time thinking about the ramifications of “getting there.”
When did individual and unalienable rights trump the requirement of individual responsibility?  Why must the few be required to provide for the many with no expectation of a fair and honest “return” on their investment?  How far will the “10% that pay 90% of the taxes” be willing to carry the increasingly heavy burden placed upon them without dropping the load?
I find it hard to understand the logic expressed by one of our elected officials when told, “we should not worry about the cost of the affordable care act as 97% will be paid by the Federal Government and only 3% will be paid for by the people.”  I found it more difficult to understand why such a statement received a standing ovation from the audience.

Perhaps the government should get back to its “workman-like” roots.  Saying “it is done” does not make it so.  Saying “it will be done” does not mean that it CAN be readily accomplished.  Saying “I will do all that I can,” however, and following through with the absolute best effort you can invest means all that could have been done was – that every possible avenue was addressed – so that even if the result is temporary failure you can move on with a clear conscience as the next mountain to be climbed is addressed.

This is an important year.  We have an upcoming National Election that may set the course upon which our nation will travel.  Regardless of your political beliefs, affiliations or leanings, take the time to learn about the candidates and their views.  Do not listen to radical conservatives or outspoken liberals as they express their opinions – study to form your own!  Take the next several months to immerse yourself in the information provided through electronic media and other readily available information sites.  Form your own opinion on each individual’s views and philosophies.

Do not vote for a party - vote for an individual’s ideals and beliefs.  Take the time to address some of the “issues” that have become talking points at most any social gathering by “talking with your vote.”  Whatever way you choose to vote, make sure that your voice becomes a viable part of the solution rather than simply a complaint about the results!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


We live in times of transition – times when the only constant is change itself.  In such times, is it best to seek change at any cost OR approach it with caution, looking before we leap?  How much should we consider what we already have before seeking those things we wish we could have?  We may not know the road upon which we wish to travel or realize a final destination in advance of our journey BUT only by acknowledging we are not where we want to be will we ever become more than we currently are.  Accepting what we are as being full and complete will discourage us from becoming what we have yet to become.

Does the reason we change make a difference or should we consider any change positive?  Before leaping towards change, make sure you consider what you are leaving, why you are leaving it, what you wish to accomplish by initiating change and how you plan to proceed once you have your new goal in sight.  You will find that change is a process rather than an event – a journey rather than a destination – so once initiated it is often difficult to return to your beginnings.  Regardless of whether the change you are considering is personal or professional in nature, consider the following:

LOOK TO BUILD UPON YOUR STRENGTHS IDENTIFY AND ELIMINATE YOUR WEAKNESSES.  When discussing change, many say their boss is intolerable, the environment oppressive, the work is not what they thought, a partner is not what he/she once was – the list is endless.  Unless one seeks to identify (and accept) his or her role in each negative, however, it is difficult to create lasting change.  Before blaming someone else for a bad situation, examine what role YOU may have played in its becoming tarnished and consider how YOU might be able to help restore the luster.  Creating lasting change involves more than simply starting over - it requires us to end or alter behaviors before beginning anew.

ISOLATE (AND ADDRESS) THE NEGATIVES WITHIN YOUR CURRENT SITUATION TO AVOID BUILDING THEM INTO YOUR NEXT OPPORTUNITY.   We often find the things we dislike most have little to do with our duties, responsibilities or actual day-to-day activities.  Many times the “things” driving us to distraction are environmental, people we work with, the level of responsibility (or lack of responsibility) we are given (or assume), the boss, the lack of attention we are receiving (without thought about the fulfillment we receive) – the list of “dislikes” could go on forever.  If these are the reasons for change, make sure to resolve them before transitioning to something else.  Before taking action to disrupt your existence, make sure that it needs disrupting!  A relatively minor issue should not force you into giving something up that you otherwise enjoy.

IDENTIFY WHAT YOU LIKE NOW AND WHAT YOU WANT TO BE DIFFERENT WHEN SEEKING CHANGE.  Few people dwell upon what they like most about their situation – rather they carry on endlessly about what is “bad” about it.  If seeking a new job, people tend to seek positions having a similar title.  Individuals able to accomplish change tend to identify and build upon their proven abilities as they transition from one place to the next, leveraging what they HAVE rather than dwelling upon what they do not have or wish to achieve.  One should never run FROM something when initiating change but rather TOWARDS an alternative destination that provides a better environment in which to utilize your strengths.

When seeking change it is important that we run towards opportunity rather than away from failure.  We tend to see the neighbor’s “greener grass” as we ignore our own lawn’s possibilities.  We see the results of another’s effort before fully investigating our own potential.  The precursor of change should be determining what you like most about what you are now doing and building upon that foundation.  Why focus on those things you do not like when seeking a new opportunity rather than searching for those alternatives that would provide you more fulfillment?  Unless we can determine "what is in it for me," why would we begin to seek anything different from what we currently have?

We are often more comfortable doing what we have always done – and blaming others for what is not to our liking.  Those seeking change must act intentionally to do things in a manner that will allow for different results.  ONLY when we are willing to walk away from the world we know to enter one we can only imagine by leveraging the strengths we possess rather than those we wish we had will we be able to realize change – for until we can embrace the effects of change we cannot initiate it.

Monday, August 6, 2012


INTENDED actions (those things we think about doing but have not acted upon) often result in UNINTENTIONAL consequences. INTENTIONAL actions, however, produce INTENDED consequences. Should we wish to change the direction and/or course of our lives we must do more than think about what we should do – we must put into action our intentions.

When we intend to do something but do not get around to acting upon our intentions, we have nobody but ourselves to blame when an outcome is other than what we might expect. Intending to leave early for a meeting does not guarantee we will arrive on time (should we actually leave ten minutes late). Intending to work hard around the house does not mow the lawn (until we intentionally start the lawn mower). Intending to get good grades in school does not assure us of a stellar grade point average (should we choose not to study). Intending to visit a shut-in friend or relative does not constitute support (until we invest our time and efforts to do so). Our best intentions are just that – thoughts not put into actions. Whenever we think we SHOULD do something we choose not to (for whatever reason), we are creating an “intended action.” When we intentionally act on our intentions, however – when we examine the alternatives and intentionally bring to fruition an action, we often change the course of our (or someone else’s) life.

When we choose to help another out of a jam (rather than wishing them well) we make a difference in the lives of those around us. Caution should be taken that such help does not become enabling. We should teach those around us how to manage their problems so they might be avoided rather than hiding from them by seeking outside intervention. We will not change anything until we choose to act no matter how noble and honorable our intentions. Action might translate into finding a program or class, securing employment (or new employment), seeking guidance from a knowledgeable resource or moving from your “comfort zone” into new and unfamiliar territory. Regardless, a conscious decision to take intentional action must occur – even if to intentionally and knowingly avoid acting – in order for “change” to happen. We cannot travel a new road until we first INTEND to move then put that intention into action by venturing forward.

We cannot change our (or another’s) future – contribute to anyone’s good – until we CHOOSE to act – to either consciously change or intentionally maintain the status quo. Simply failing to act can be an expression of good intentions – a hollow consideration that will not typically produce a reasonable consequence. Choosing to act (or not to act), however, will result in intended (or at least anticipated) consequences.

Do not let yourself live a life of unintended consequences. Do what you say, say what you do – or what you intend to do – then ACT. Validate your good intentions by bringing them to fruition through focused, intentional action - then move deliberately forward towards the accomplishment of your dreams.