OSHA’s Emergency Temporary Standard: Guidance on Mandatory COVID-19 Vaccination/Testing

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has published its Emergency Temporary Standard, which requires most U.S. employers with 100 or more employees to adopt a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy with an option to include an alternative weekly testing program.  The ETS is effective immediately and employers have until December 5, 2021, to comply with all of the requirements of the ETS, except for the weekly testing option for employees who have not been fully vaccinated.  While the ETS has already been legally challenged, employers should begin preparing for compliance. 

Infrastructure Bill KO’s 4th Q ERTC Funding

Last week, the bi-partisan $1.2 trillion-dollar Infrastructure Bill (known as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act) was passed by House after passing the Senate in August, and it is now waiting for the President to sign. This provides much needed spending on America’s roads, railways, and other transportation systems.

Unfortunately, in order to pay for the Bill, some of the funds earmarked under the CARES Act and succeeding bills were redeployed to help cover the tab for the Infrastructure Bill, the most significant of which was the 4th quarter Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC) funding. For many companies and organizations that are still experiencing revenue declines of 20% or more attributable to the COVID-19 pandemic, this means an end to the ERTC funds that have been helping to stabilize their financial operations … and as we have seen a lot during the everchanging flow of CARES Act relief/support and COVID related regulations, the change is retroactive to October 1, 2021, the beginning of the quarter. While we have been warning businesses that this could happen, for those that have been relying on ERTC funding to help pay their staff, this will still have a sharp sting.

Please note that this bill is separate from the Build Back Better (BBB) Act which has gone through several revisions and still has yet to be introduced for a vote. The BBB Act is where the majority of the significant tax changes that have been proposed and discussed over the last month will be enacted. As part of passing this current Infrastructure Bill, the House agreed to a future vote on the BBB Act, which many wanted to pass in unison. The size of the BBB Act has significantly decreased from its original proposal and still does not yet have full democratic senate support; it will require all 50 democratic senators to pass. Until the negotiations have hit a point where the Democrats are confident it will pass, the changes in the BBB Act are still very fluid and could still change further. Once that bill becomes closer to enactment, we will share the impactful changes…whatever they may ultimately be.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us … Staying Connected.

Nonprofit Partner Spotlight

We were delighted to spend some time with Tara Zier CEO and Founder of the Stiff Person Syndrome Research Foundation. The Foundation is one of 50 patient-led organizations that are strengthening rare disease communities, improving diagnosis, accelerating research, and driving progress in the fight against rare diseases through the Rare As One Network. Tara’s story is eye-opening and inspiring. Her story is one that teaches us that will, determination, and tenacity are often the driving forces behind creating awareness and finding cures for these rare diseases.

NRH: Tara, can you tell us about yourself. How and why did you choose this organization to work with?

TZ: My motivation for creating this organization is two-fold. First, the need. Second, my kids. At an appointment with Dr. Newsome at Johns Hopkins he commented, “We applied for a grant from NIH but were denied because there wasn’t enough research to support getting the grant.” That was an epiphany for me. I was in a ton of pain, barely functioning with no good treatment options available. I couldn’t sit around waiting for a solution. I was the solution. That’s why I started The Stiff Person Syndrome Research Foundation to raise awareness and funds for better treatments and a cure.

Research for rare diseases is dependent on individual donations or grant opportunities. Even though I can’t work as a dentist anymore, I am focusing on what I can do. Leading this organization has become my new purpose. Even If I were cured tomorrow, I would continue to advocate for rare diseases. There is a dire need for support, research, and leadership in the rare disease space.

I want to be an example to my children and show them that no matter what hand you are dealt, you can still thrive, be happy, and make a difference in the world.

NRH: Tell us what your goals are for your organization this coming year?

TZ: Fundraising – We need the funds to support the research and the people conducting it. Rare diseases typically don’t get the funding that other diseases do. Some institutions are unable to get funding to hire fellows to pursue research, which is a recurring annual cost. Our organization currently funds research at a top institution (Johns Hopkins) that essentially had been unfunded

prior to our involvement. We want to be positioned to financially support the best research wherever it is conducted. Lack of awareness of SPS and our small but growing size hamper our ability to raise money. With more significant funding we can expedite research into biomarker discovery with SPS, in turn leading to better, targeted treatments and a cure.

Outreach – Even if we enlisted every patient with SPS around the world, we would still be a tiny network compared to many other well-known diseases. The more people know about our organization’s work, the more patients, physicians, researchers, and the general public will become aware of this disease, speeding diagnosis, accelerating the pace of treatment, and providing candidates and data for research. The medical research for SPS can also inform us about other autoimmune diseases processes, expanding the community that is affected.

NRH: Tell us about one success story you are really proud of.

TZ: The SPSRF applied to participate in the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative program “Rare As One” — and we got in! It offers incredible networking, organizational, and financial support for groups like ours in the rare disease space. We worked tirelessly over months to make this happen – and had tremendous support, generosity, and participation from friends of the foundation, like the doctor who told us about the grant,

a doctor with SPS who helped with some of the medical verbiage and my own neurologist who shared his medical expertise. This is just the beginning! We might be Rare As One but we are so much stronger together!

NRH: What is the biggest challenge to working in the nonprofit industry (or with your organization in particular) since the start of the pandemic?

TZ: Fundraising was, and still is, the biggest challenge for us as a nonprofit in a pandemic. In such an uncertain environment, you have to be sensitive to the fact that so many people lost jobs, or had uneven childcare, and were already possibly overwhelmed with their own health situation. We did our best to be a positive influence in the rare disease and SPS community, lifting people up and bringing people together (albeit virtually) until this passes or we all adjust to the new normal.

NRH: What’s the latest event you are promoting for your organization and how

can the community get involved to support you?

TZ: Like so many other nonprofits at this time of year, we are really coalescing our

efforts behind year-end fundraising, and being grateful for the robust community of support that will usher us in our two-year anniversary!

Last year, we rallied behind a patient with SPS who is an outlier – he can run for many miles every day. From December to January, he ran 547 miles across his home in southern Australia (twice!) to bring attention to SPS. Other supporters of The SPSRF adopted and adapted the feat, and created a “547 Challenge,” where participants do reps, steps, or miles while raising funds. 

We will be launching the 547 Challenge 2.0 this year!

NRH: What are you most looking forward to as a new Nonprofit Partner with the


TZ: Building a community with other nonprofits so we can offer each other

support and learn from each other.

NRH: What services would you love NRH to provide nonprofit organizations


Connection to other rare disease organizations, knowledge resources, message amplification, and possibly a virtual international conference.

NRH: How can we get in touch with you?

TZ: Visit https://stiffperson.org, like and follow us on social (Facebook, Instagram,

LinkedIn, Twitter) or email us directly at info@stiffperson.org

NRH: We want to thank Tara for sharing her story with us and for educating us about Stiff Person Syndrome and her plight to raise money and awareness to support the critical research needed to help people touched by rare diseases.

AM Member Spotlight: November Newsletter

The NRH would like to welcome one of our newest Associate Members, Jennifer C. Loftus, National Director at Astron Solutions. We sat down with Jennifer to find out more about her, her company, and how she helps serve the nonprofit industry.

NRH: Tell us about Astron Solutions and the services it provides.

JL:  Founded in 1999, Astron Solutions is a New York City-based consulting firm dedicated to the delivery of human resources consulting services and supportive technology. Astron’s focus is to develop and implement human resources programs that support the strategic direction of organizations through the creation of a positive employee relations environment.  

Throughout our 22 years of consulting under the Astron brand, our focus has been on the design and implementation of programs that impact an organization’s two most important human resources concerns: rising human resources costs and retaining qualified staff. Astron’s consulting services focus on the areas of total cash compensation, employee surveys, reward & recognition, performance management, and employee communication.  In addition, Astron Solutions offers organizations a complete, customized human resources package including advice, innovative program design, and user-friendly cloud-based software through our proprietary technology suite, Flare®.

The majority of our clients are non-profit organizations including healthcare, education, services, public sector, long-term care, and associations. Astron Solutions has primarily served these types of organizations since our founding. We are sensitive to this demographic’s unique fiscal and regulatory concerns, and develop Human Resource programs that address these specific needs.

Additionally, the majority of our clients are small- and mid-sized. We understand the difficulties organizations of these sizes may have recruiting and retaining employees when competing with larger organizations. We partner with our clients to understand their specific situations and develop final products that enable them to successfully recruit, retain, and motivate their most valuable asset – their people.

NRH: Can you tell us a little about your role at Astron Solutions?

JL: I am one of the Founding Partners of and a National Director for Astron Solutions.  Each day is different for me!  I spend a good amount of my time working directly with clients on market analyses, compensation strategies, and compensation system implementation plans.  I also work with Boards of Directors on nonprofit Executive Compensation analyses related to the IRS Intermediate Sanctions.  When I’m not working directly on client engagements, I focus on business development activities, including speaking engagements at conferences across the country.  My role also entails oversight of internal support activities, including Human Resources and Finance.

NRH: Can you tell us a little about your team at Astron Solutions?

JL:  With over a century of consulting and HR experience, our team is well versed in the nuances of compensation and HR technology.  While everyone works out of our New York City office, we come from a variety of different backgrounds and experiences.  Our team is diverse on multiple dimensions, underscoring our commitment to reflecting the reality of the clients we serve.  We’re currently growing our team as well!  Because of the strong demand for the services we provide, we will be adding one or two new team members in the coming weeks.  You can learn more about our core team at https://astronsolutions.net/corporate-team/.  

NRH: What is Astron Solutions’ motto?

JL:  Unique.  Affordable.  Friendly.  Our compensation solutions are uniquely tailored to each client, to reflect and support their specific needs, culture, strategy, and employee population.  Our fees are affordable for even the smallest nonprofits, providing value many times over.  In addition, we operate under a flat-fee billing model – no hourly charges or expenses here!  Individually and collectively, we are a friendly group.  We love what we do, and that joy permeates each of our client engagements.  We create a supportive environment for our clients, one where they can comfortably ask questions and learn from the consulting experience.

NRH: Jennifer, can you tell us what the three most important things are when determining an employee’s salary?

JL:  Absolutely!  First, what is your organization’s total rewards philosophy?  Knowing your relevant labor market is critical when making salary determinations.  That relevant labor market may include specific types of organizations, geographic region(s), and organizational sizes.  Compensation can vary greatly across all these factors.  Second, what does your organization value?  Some organizations value performance, while others focus on education and/or experience.  Still, others want to recognize employee tenure.  Compensation is both art and science – your organization’s values as expressed through compensation focuses on the art, so make sure that art reflects who your organization is.  And third, what impact does a salary change for this employee mean for others in the same job title, or others at the same level in the organization?  Employees talk.  Pay equity is a hot topic in today’s world.  A salary adjustment for one employee should not create inequities for others.

NRH: What would you say is the key to a nonprofit organization’s success?

JL: The key to a nonprofit’s success is its employees.  While it sounds clichéd, it’s true!  Nonprofits distinguish themselves from their competition by the services they provide, the knowledge they bring, and the relationships they build.  These all come from people.  As such, it’s essential that employers treat their employees fairly and in a manner that supports positive employee relations.  If employers don’t do these things, their employees will undoubtedly have little trouble finding work elsewhere.

NRH: What are the goals for Astron Solutions as you move forward into the future?

JL:   Looking to 2022 and beyond, here at Astron we plan on continuing to grow our practice!  Compensation has moved to the forefront of the national conversation thanks to initiatives such as minimum wage increases, the pay equity movement, and the social justice movement.  We are excited to share our knowledge and expertise in compensation with organizations that want to position themselves for success in the coming months and years.  We’re also exploring additional ways to give back to the HR profession and the nonprofit sector through new surveys, resources, and volunteer efforts.

Please add any other important information you would like to share including links to your blog posts, white papers, etc.

Blog link: https://astronsolutions.net/blog/

Link to subscribe to our blog: https://astronsolutions.net/subscribe/

Link to presentation library on our website: https://astronsolutions.net/presentations/


HR Audits: Frequently Asked Questions & How to Get Started

RealHR Solutions is a leading provider of HR audit services for organizations of all sizes.

Human resources (HR) audits help organizations take stock of their HR processes, identify problem areas or potential risks, and make timely changes as needed. They serve as a safeguard, helping your organization catch issues early and avoid damaging HR pitfalls.

After all, HR can be complicated. An extremely wide range of responsibilities falls under the HR umbrella, meaning there is a lot to keep track of. And with the huge potential impacts of neglecting just one aspect of your organization’s human resources—like costly legal non-compliance and lagging employee retention rates—it pays to conduct regular check-ups. This is especially true in today’s rapidly changing labor landscape.

This guide will cover the most frequently asked questions about HR audits as well as the first steps to get started conducting your own.

Here are a few frequently asked questions about HR audits.

What is an HR audit?

An HR audit is an analysis of an organization’s policies and procedures that relate to human resources, regulatory compliance, and other aspects of its internal operations. Audits should be as objective as possible, so they are typically conducted by third-party HR consultants or experienced HR departments. The results of an effective HR audit will reveal gaps in your organization’s practices and their impacts, plus areas of potential liability that need to be addressed.

What is the difference between an HR audit and assessment?

As you weigh your organization’s HR options, you may encounter both HR audits and HR assessments. These exercises are similar, but they differ in scope and focus.

HR audits focus on concrete HR policies, compliance, and other internal areas like performance management, job descriptions, and training requirements. They are often more granular in scope than HR assessments.

HR assessments are comprehensive reviews and evaluations of an organization’s complete range of HR activities. While they review concrete policies and compliance like audits, they also take a broader view of the organization’s HR practices as a whole.

Both HR audits and assessments should provide diagnostics and next steps to prioritize, but it is important to remember that they serve somewhat different purposes. While audits point you towards immediate internal and regulatory gaps that need correcting, assessments analyze your structures in a more holistic way to help you better align your HR practices with employees’ needs and organizational goals. It is recommended that audits be conducted every 1-2 years and assessments less frequently.

If you work with an HR consultant to prepare for or conduct an audit, ask about their assessment services. A valuable long-term partner will likely be able to offer support in both areas.

What operational areas do HR audits analyze?

An HR audit will typically cover the following operational areas:

  • HR practices, including those related to regulatory compliance and organizational policies reflected in your employee handbook
  • Recruitment and hiring practices
  • FLSA compliance/exempt/non-exempt classification of employees
  • I-9 practices
  • Employee onboarding
  • Exit interviews
  • Job descriptions
  • Mandatory training
  • Diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives
  • Performance management processes
  • Other function-specific areas of your operations

The exact areas that your HR audit examines can vary based on its objectives and your organizational structure. Depending on what they are intended to accomplish, audits typically fall into one of a few general categories:Type of HR AuditObjectivesCompliance AuditsDetermining the organization’s compliance with federal, state, and local labor laws and other regulationsStrategic AuditsAnalyzing the strengths, weaknesses, and gaps in HR systems and policies to determine how well they align with the organization’s strategic plansBest Practices AuditsComparing the organization’s HR policies and practices with those of industry-leading companies or others considered best places to workFunction-Specific AuditsReviewing HR policies, practices, and compliance as they relate to one specific HR function, like job descriptions, pay equity, or benefits review

There may be some overlap between these objectives and the specific areas that an HR audit will review. This is why clearly defining your needs, goals, and the areas you want to learn more about is critical for conducting a successful HR audit.

Why conduct an HR audit?

In addition to conducting HR audits on a regular basis to ensure continued compliance and to evaluate the impact of policy and procedural changes over time, you may also choose to conduct an HR audit in specific situations. For example, an organization may conduct an audit to:

  • Perform due diligence reviews for investors, acquisitions or mergers, or other potential stakeholders.
  • Instill greater confidence in its management or enhance its reputation in the community.
  • Quickly diagnose and correct policy gaps after a noncompliance issue has already arisen.

Simply put, HR audits show you where your HR policies are working well and where they need to be improved or changed. Their ultimate purpose is to help protect your organization from compliance risks and to make strategic improvements at the policy level, whether proactively or in reaction to changing circumstances or challenges.

Who is involved in an HR audit?

An HR audit usually involves a few key individuals or teams, including:

  • Organizational or HR departmental leadership
  • An HR consultant, if contracted to conduct the audit
  • HR staff members, if the audit is conducted in-house
  • Leaders or staff from other relevant departments depending on the audit’s focus

HR audits need to be thorough and objective. They can be conducted in-house, but your organization must ensure that your HR team has the experience and skills necessary before diving in. In-house HR audits are more likely for larger or well-established organizations with functional HR departments.

To ensure objectivity and take the guesswork out of the process, many organizations opt to partner with third-party HR experts to conduct audits. Consider that many HR consultants offer specialized services, but since audits can touch on many different aspects of your HR practices, it is often beneficial to look for full-service HR partners who can bring more experience and broader insights to the table.

At RealHR Solutions, we offer a complete range of human resources consulting services, including audits, assessments, HR set-up, workplace investigations, organizational strategy, and more. With a background in employment law, a diverse team of experts, and the flexibility to offer both project-based and ongoing HR support, we can both conduct your organization’s audit and clearly lay out plans for improvement. Check out our complete range of HR offerings to learn more.

What are the steps of an HR audit?

This section explains the 7 core steps of a human resources audit.

Although the exact scope and focus of HR audits can vary, they follow a few general steps:

  1. Determine the audit’s type and scope.
    • Begin by defining your objectives for the HR audit and the operational areas that it will review. This could mean taking a comprehensive approach or instead focusing on one specific area or policy. Identify the audit’s key stakeholders and other departmental points of contact who will help you gather information.
  2. Create an HR audit questionnaire.
    • Based on the audit’s scope, develop a questionnaire or other document that walks through all the information needed to achieve the inquiry’s objectives. Clearly spell out what information you need and from whom. This document will effectively serve as the audit’s roadmap, so take your time to ensure it is as comprehensive as possible.
  3. Collect the necessary data.
    • Next, follow the questionnaire to begin collecting relevant data and reviewing the specific areas or policies that it covers. Reference the questionnaire as you go to ensure nothing is forgotten or skimmed over along the way.
  4. Benchmark your audit’s findings.
    • Your audit’s findings can be compared and benchmarked against internal data (like turnover or cost per new employee hired) to see changes over time and to identify solutions. You can also benchmark findings against external data of organizations of similar size or that meet other specific criteria in order to provide you with a frame of reference for best practices to help inform your next steps. This is an area where the support of HR experts is particularly helpful since benchmarking can be a challenge for smaller or inexperienced teams.
  5. Report your audit’s findings.
    • After gathering your data and/or using benchmarking data to interpret your findings, summarize your data and report it to departmental and organizational leadership. This report should outline key findings and prioritize them based on various risk or urgency levels.
  6. Develop a plan of action.
    • Building from the HR audit’s final report and prioritized recommendations, lay out a concrete plan of action and get started implementing it. This step is particularly important and requires thorough follow-up. Failing to act on compliance gaps identified by audits can actually increase your risk (for example, by creating a record that an organization was previously aware of FLSA misclassifications but did nothing to address them).
  7. Emphasize a culture of continuous improvement.
    • Conducting HR audits and responding to the information proactively reflects an organization that is interested in responding to not only compliance concerns but also looking toward continuous improvement. Actively track your progress through the audit’s plan of action and the impact of all HR changes made over time. Also, plan ahead to conduct additional HR audits in the future.
Before getting started with an HR audit, you need to check your organization's readiness.

How to Get Started

Ready to get started preparing for an HR audit? Here are the steps we recommend to check your organization’s readiness:

  1. Define your exact needs and your audit’s area of focus. Whether you conduct the audit in-house or work with a consultant, you must have a solid understanding of exactly what you aim to accomplish or learn more about.
  2. Realistically determine your team’s ability to conduct the HR audit in-house. Consider your HR team’s resources, knowledge, skills, and objectivity.
  3. Begin researching HR and compliance consulting firms, if you’ve determined that you need objective third-party support.
  4. Choose a partner who can conduct the audit and provide practical and specific recommendations based on its findings.

Remember, HR policy changes and regulatory compliance can have high stakes for your organization’s health. Think carefully about whether your own team or a third party is best positioned to conduct the audit objectively and then distill it into actionable next steps. For most organizations, the help of an HR consultant will be the best choice. Ideal partners will offer a full range of services, experiences, and insights to ensure you make the most of your audit’s findings over the long run.

The bottom line: Regularly conducting audits of your HR practices not only helps you to quickly identify risks but also to proactively protect your organization’s reputation, time, and resources. Audits can help your HR team foster a stronger culture of continuous improvement, keeping best practices and changing regulations top of mind as your organization grows over time.

It’s certainly possible for some HR teams to conduct effective in-house audits and enact successful action plans based on their findings. However, in most situations, the help of an objective expert will prove the more effective solution.

RealHR Solutions is a leading provider of HR audit services. If you have any questions about HR audits, please contact us to learn more. Or, keep researching to learn more about the importance of solid HR practices with these additional resources:

  • HR Assessments: The What, Why, When, and Who. Unsure if your organization needs an HR audit or an assessment? Learn more about HR assessments with this complete breakdown of what they are and what they accomplish.
  • What, Why, When, and How to Conduct a Pay Equity Audit. Pay equity is a critically important compliance and reputational consideration for organizations of all sizes. This guide outlines the key information you need to know about this type of audit.
  • Response to the Great Resignation. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the labor landscape has been profound. This article digs into job market trends, their implications, and steps employers can take to boost employee retention.
Need a human resources audit? RealHR Solutions can help.

5 Ways to Make Sure Your Best Employees Never Want to Leave

Here’s something that keeps your Executive Director (or you?) up at night.

“What happens if Jason leaves? Sure, I’m the E.D – but Jason is really irreplaceable. He has all the relationships that drive the big money. If he ever leaves, this place will fall apart.”

Every organization has its rock stars. You, as the leader, want to do everything you can to make them never want to leave.

Here are five things you can do to retain your best employees.


No one, not even Jason, is irreplaceable.

You may rely on him now, but you’d find someone else if you had to. And more importantly, it’s highly unlikely that Jason will stay as long as you’d like no matter what you do.

You also need to snap out of the mentality that you are only the E.D. If you really feel that Jason is more important to the success of your work, maybe you should be the one shopping.

A big part of your job is to build a team of five-star players. Absolutely take great care of your rock stars but remember… if the band isn’t also first rate, you’re probably not getting a platinum album (do they still call them albums?)


1) Champion purpose. A recent study by Harvard Business Review and The Energy Project (a company that assesses workplace productivity,) the single most important influencer for job satisfaction and retention is purpose.

Employees who derive meaning and significance from their work were more than three times as likely to stay with their organizations — the highest single impact of any variable in our survey. These employees also reported 1.7 times higher job satisfaction and they were 1.4 times more engaged at work.” 

While it might be hard to sell purpose if you lead a company that makes clothes hangers, you’re the Executive Director of a nonprofit. You exude purpose. What an advantage! You must ensure that your staff touches and feels the work, especially your rock stars.

2) Be inclusive. Ask for their point-of-view and listen to their voices. As an E.D., you actually don’t have the best vantage point of your organization. Your key staff does. Ask them what’s working, what’s not, what new territory should be explored, if there’s a new way of doing the work. I guarantee you that your rock stars think about that stuff all the time. Their ideas will be terrific. That’s why they’re your best employees.

3) Give credit. What better way to illustrate that your rock star’s voice matters than to execute one of her ideas? Then make sure to give credit where credit is due. The best way is to acknowledge the contribution in a public setting.

4) Build a career path. Take extra time with your rock star (Yes, it’s ok. Play favorites.) Understand his professional aspirations. Build a plan together to ensure that your high performer is gaining the skills and building the relationships that will lead him in that direction.

5) Create new opportunities. My friend (and client) Axel Marrero at Hyacinth AIDS Foundation has been in his job for nearly two decades. He was a guest speaker at my class at The Annenberg School at the University of Pennsylvania. A student asked, “How have you stayed so long without burning out? Haven’t you been interested in working somewhere else?”

Axel spoke of his personal connection to the AIDS epidemic, which brought a sense of passion. He explained that a big reason he never left is that he was constantly asked to take on new and different roles in the organization. He was allowed, even encouraged, to stretch different muscles. He praised his bosses for tapping into him as a thought partner and allowing him to have a real and valued voice.

Throughout this time, I have seen Axel at the near burnout stage. I’ve thought to myself that he wouldn’t last there too much longer. But each time I’ve thought that, either his E.D. or Axel saw it happening. Together, they created new opportunities for him, which have always been able to re-ignite his sense of purpose and reinforce his commitment to the organization.


Two last pieces of advice:

First, don’t be naïve. Rock stars like Jason will leave. You need to make sure that it doesn’t catch you off guard. Make sure your best employees are not lone cowboys. Institutionalize his relationships. Make sure they belong to the organization and not simply to Jason.

And finally, make it part of your rock star’s job to build bench strength. Chances are that he gets this and is already on it because he is, after all, a rock star. But the single best way to contend with the loss of a rock star is an internal promotion.

Shared Content  Joan Garry Consulting

3 Interview Red Flags That Are Actually Signs of a Good Leader

Lack of experience doesn’t always mean unqualified. Here’s how to spot the difference. 

While some may say integrity and emotional intelligence make a strong leader, others measure leadership skills based on a person’s drive, ability, and influence. The truth is, when it comes to hiring for a leadership role, what makes an ideal leader typically varies and reflects the company’s current goals, which is why promoting your highest performer isn’t necessarily always the best option.

In fact, the difference between a good and a great leader can sometimes be obscured by relying on traditional traits and first impressions. I often recommend coming into each interview without any expectations from candidates.

Sure, having an impressive résumé and credentials is one thing, but taking a chance on a candidate who shows promise to shake things up a little can impact your team and company in ways you never imagined. So, what’s one way to come into an interview with an open mind? Just like how leadership can easily be redefined, forget what you know about traditional interview red flags and try looking at them in a new light.

Whether you’re looking to hire someone who can drive results, bring everyone together, innovate business, or help develop skills, I’ll be walking you through a few of the most common interview red flags that could potentially translate into signs of a good leader.

1. Do they lack experience, or are they coming into the role with a fresh and new perspective?

An impressive and very detailed résumé that stands out from the crowd can go a long way in the hiring process — just ask any HR representative who has ever screened a candidate who openly lacks relatable work experience but showcases a lot of promise. When interviewing this type of candidate, try to grasp their work style, attitude, and personality.

Ask yourself: “Can I trust this individual to help shape my team?” Determine why they want to take on a leadership role, especially if it is an entirely different industry, and ask them about transferrable skills and similar experiences outside of work.

Depending on the goals you’re hiring for, experience doesn’t necessarily mean they’re unqualified. Sometimes a fresh and new perspective from an outside hire can help shake things up in your team and positively impact your company. With that said, because candidates like this are more of a risk to consider, prepare yourself for a lengthier interview process.

2. Are they job hopping from one company to another, or are they ambitious?

Lengthy résumés can either mean one of two things: The candidate has years’ worth of growth and experience in their field, or they have a tendency to hop from one job to the next before gaining real seniority.

If you notice a résumé that lists an alarming number of experiences that ran less than a year, before assuming anything, ask the candidate about their personal experiences and thoughts working for each company.

Ask them why they chose to leave and have them lists skills they’ve gained from each experience. Did they leave because they got bored? Did they leave because of disagreements? Ultimately, the goal is to figure out their career plan and determine how this position would benefit them and your company.

To question and change your mind about jobs and careers is human. And depending on an individual’s circumstances, some may be more inclined to leap into a new role. While this might seem an alarming move at first from HR’s perspective, it can also mean that the candidate isn’t afraid to go after what they want, which can be a great sign of leadership.

If risk-taking and goal-reaching are the traits you want to hire for, ensure that the candidate’s goals align with the company’s before moving onto the next step of the hiring process.

3. They’re too eager to know salary and benefits details, or have they done this before and they want to communicate directly?

If a candidate has proven to have the right experience and traits for the role, don’t be shocked if they come into the interview with a list of questions about the role, job structure, and employee benefits. This just proves that they’ve done their research about the company and industry.

Oftentimes, when a candidate does this they’re looking for a role (and pay) that compliments their work style and history. They know exactly what they are worth and want to ensure that all their expectations are met before moving forward or committing to future meetings.

Shared ContentInc.

Mandy Gilbert is the author of Just Go With It, a book that shares how to navigate the ups and downs of entrepreneurship. She has been recognized as the United Nations Global Accelerator and completed the Entrepreneurial Masters Program at MIT.

Response to the Great Resignation

Response to the Great Resignation

Covid has changed a lot of things, especially how some people view their relationship with work. While the search for work-life balance is not new, the pandemic and a heightened focus on workplace equity is at the forefront of many people’s minds, and they are starting to take action.

In what some are calling “the Great Resignation,” employees are leaving their jobs in higher than usual numbers to pursue better opportunities. What defines better opportunities is not necessarily the same now as it was pre-pandemic, when pay scales and benefits packages often served as driving forces. Now, what motivates a significant portion of workers, especially in younger generations, is a more holistic approach to life that includes addressing personal and important societal needs.

In this article, we discuss the following:

Data Reflecting Job Market Trends

During the pandemic, millions lost their jobs and many more struggled with underemployment. As our country begins to open up again and returning to work is on everyone’s mind, one would think that employers should easily be able to meet their staffing needs. However, when it comes to post-pandemic recruiting and retention, workers find themselves in the driver’s seat.

Recent survey data shows some interesting trends. Most importantly, people are not jumping to get back into the workforce, and for those fortunate enough to remain employed through the pandemic, they do not feel compelled to stay in their current jobs.

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) cites several surveys indicating that employee departures will rise as the pandemic subsides. Such predictions are supported by the recent U.S. Department of Labor’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary (JOLTS) which reported that the combined number of people who voluntarily left their jobs in April and May 2021 totaled more than 7 million.

The Pandemic Changed Attitudes About Working From Home

As employers begin to roll out return to work plans, the ability to work remotely is of particular importance for employees and prospective job applicants. Eighty percent of Americans working from home during the pandemic enjoyed the arrangement according to 2020 research by McKinsey & Company. Over half of respondents reported that they were as or more productive than working in an office.

Workers Weigh in on Remote, Hybrid, or In-Person Strategies

study by the Becker Freidman Institute for Economics at the University of Chicago, published in July 2021, reveals that only a little over half of respondents (58 percent) would willingly follow their employer’s requirement to report to a business location five days a week. More than one-third (36 percent) would comply but start looking for a new position, and six percent would quit immediately.

Some workers might even give up a pay raise to remain fully remote. A recent Forbes article revealed that 64 percent of employees at prominent employers, such as Amazon, Goldman Sachs, and QualComm, would forgo a $30,000 salary bump to continue working from home.

These research results are compelling, but do not tell the whole story, as this sea change is not based solely on remote work opportunities. There are a variety of reasons coming together in a perfect storm to create this great exodus.

Factors Contributing to the Increase in Turnover

Since March 2020, a number of forces have refocused societal priorities and challenged people to rethink how they approach work and their lives. These various factors create an environment of escalating quit rates and labor shortages, forcing many employers to scramble as they try to address these concerns.

Flexible Working Arrangements

Covid response demanded many employers adopt work from home scenarios. This arrangement was a positive development for some employers and employees. For many workers, this autonomy was crucial as Covid-19 closed schools, daycare centers, and other avenues that provided family member care before the lockdown. As family demands continue, people are turning to their employers for support and seeking accommodations that proved workable over the past year and a half plus.

Additionally, there is a set of workers (Millennials & Gen Z) who do not define their lives by work. They see their career trajectories as having multiple employers, varying opportunities, and the ability to live wherever they feel at home, but still have viable employment prospects. They envision their careers as supporting their personal as well as professional goals as they seek to harness the best work-life balance.

Discrimination and Equity Concerns

The events of Summer 2020, focused our attention on the broad issue of discrimination (i.e., race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, etc.) in a way that has not happened since the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s.

Today, disparities in hiring, compensation, advancement opportunities, access to childcare, and many other work-related issues rank highly on workers’ checklists when evaluating if a company is a right fit. While many companies feel they have addressed these issues with appropriate policies and procedures, employees now expect more than lip service. Actions demonstrate a company’s commitment.

Employees are demanding more transparency and open communication from employers in all areas of the work relationship. They seek a comfort level that the company they work for sees them as individuals, values their contributions, and compensates them fairly. Additionally, being associated with an organization that supports equity in our communities and is motivated to play a role in resolving societal injustices also resonates with many of today’s job seekers.

A Meaningful Life

Living through a pandemic has given many people a new perspective. They desire to contribute more to society than simply completing their assigned tasks and bringing home paychecks. They want the work they perform and the goods and services they provide to improve the world in some way.

This desire to make the world a better place ties into the focus on eliminating societal inequities, but most people recognize that they may not be able to affect groundbreaking change or touch millions. So, for them, impacting their corner of the world — the people they interact with on a daily basis — is a starting point, and they expect their work environment to support that goal.

Covid-19 Related Issues

Employer return to work plans also play a direct role in creating the Great Resignation. Employers want to bring their employees back into the workplace safely, and employees wish to feel safe while there. However, how each employer and individual reaches that comfort level is different and such distinctions often cause friction, even polarizing coworkers, supervisors, and leadership.

Corporate vaccination policies are such an issue. Some employers are encouraging their workforces to take the vaccine; others have mandated it. For a certain population of employees, mandatory vaccination is untenable, and they will refuse, instead opting to resign or be fired. This situation is unfolding in the healthcare sector and spreading to others.

Even without mandatory vaccination policies, masking, social distancing, and testing protocols may also prove to be divisive, driving employees to leave organizations that impose policies with which they do not agree.

The Implications of High Resignation Rates

Rapid and extensive turnover is disruptive and expensive. The cost is both in hard dollars spent to recruit and train new hires and also in loss of institutional knowledge.

Productivity is likely to be impacted as those hired ramp up and learn their new responsibilities. Existing employees may feel overworked and underappreciated as they shoulder the burden of a reduced and green workforce. If open positions remain unfilled, companies may struggle to fulfill organizational goals, serve customers, and prosper.

Preventing an Employee Exodus

As worker expectations shift, employers must adjust, reevaluating how to attract and retain talent. This process is not confined to examining HR functions alone but involves assessing corporate culture. Core business needs must be met, but they must be balanced against emerging employee interests.

Some areas of consideration to solidify employee retention and recruitment include:

  • Opening lines of communication to not only hear employee concerns but also share insight into leadership decisions
    • If leadership agrees to transparency, fulfill that promise
  • Offering employees flexibility in structuring their workweek to the extent it aligns with the organization’s business plan and operations
  • Furnishing avenues for emotional and mental support
  • Updating job descriptions so they accurately represent each position
    • Avoid hiding the less desirable aspects of jobs, so candidates have appropriate expectations before accepting positions
  • Providing training and other pathways to upskill existing employees
  • Establishing onboarding, mentoring, and job opportunity processes to make people want to stay longer
    • These steps may foster a sense of accomplishment, engagement and commitment to the company
  • Conducting “stay interviews” to uncover employee needs, concerns, and complaints
    • Waiting until exit interviews does little to fortify retention
  • Training managers & supervisors to understand and support these initiatives

By reviewing some or all of these areas, leadership may discover that the policies and procedures relied upon for years no longer provide the company with protection against a talent drain.

How RealHR May Help You Address the Great Resignation

Every company is unique in what they add to the marketplace and the culture they adopt internally, so addressing the causes of the Great Resignation will differ from company to company. However, what every assessment has in common is the need for significant evaluation and realistic recommendations that align with organizational goals.

At RealHR, we have the knowledge and years of experience to help point you in the right direction. We welcome the opportunity to meet with you as you consider your options and examine your hiring and talent retention concerns.

The blog should not be construed as legal advice

Types of Penetration Testing – A Cybersecurity Guide


To start off we need to define penetration testing. What is it?

What is a penetration test?

Penetration testing (sometimes called a pen test) can be extremely useful in finding vulnerabilities in your organization’s cybersecurity protection. Basically, a team of experts attempts to “penetrate” your defenses, as if they are a bad actor, who actually wants to steal your data. If you’ve heard the term “ethical hacking” before, this is one of the ways that it is done. Think of it as hiring a hacker to conduct a simulated cyber attack in the form of a penetration test.

Through this process, your weaknesses can be identified and methods to shore up defenses will be recommended. Typically, it’s a good idea to do some type of penetration testing annually, to make sure that your systems are holding strong against the latest forms of cyberattack. You can do this yourself with online penetration testing tools, or you can hire a third party who will perform a more thorough test for you, and help you effectively respond to the results.

Why is penetration testing important?

Cyber attacks are on the rise. Technology is more widespread than ever before in our culture and our world —especially in our more remote hybrid workspace— and as a result, we rely more and more on it. Can you imagine waking up one morning and none of your accounts work, your website has been taken over and ransomed, your customer data sold?

That’s a worst-case scenario, but it happens every day to people just like you. Even smaller organizations and nonprofits are becoming the target of these attacks. Attacks of opportunity, when your passwords and data are leaked through a larger cyberattack, such as an attack on your web host, are some of the most common, and no one is safe from these.

Increasing your layers of cybersecurity and protection is the only way to stay ahead and mitigate the risk of an attack. Penetration testing is a great way to identify your weaknesses and fix them before a bad actor has the chance to leverage them.

Types of Penetration Testing

Let’s discuss a few of the different types of penetration testing that your organization can utilize. Generally, there are three main types of penetration testing, black box, grey box, and white box.

Black Box Penetration Testing

In a black box pen test, no information is given to the person or group performing the test. They go in on their own and attempt to penetrate defenses without prior information from you. This type of test is one of the most popular as it can be seen as truly authentic, seeing what defenses can be breached when an unknown attacker makes their first attempts. It can, however, be more costly as it is usually more extensive.

White Box Penetration Testing

White box penetration testing is opposite to black box, the tester is given full access to your system, network, and credentials and then identifies weak points as an outside 3rd party. This type of test is typically more affordable, as it takes less time and effort on the tester’s end. However, given that so much information is shared it can be seen as a less accurate method to black box penetration testing.

Grey Box Penetration Testing

As you may have guessed by now, a grey box penetration test is a mixture of white and black box. A tester goes in with a limited amount of information usually in the form of login credentials. This is a good balance between the two other penetration testings, and some believe it to be more realistic, as many times, a bad actor will do some reconnaissance and scope out an organization before attempting an attack, making a grey box test potentially the most realistic.

Subcategories of Penetration Testing

Each of the different types of penetration testing can be further broken apart into sub-categories of infrastructure, such as:

  • Web Application
  • Wireless
  • Social Engineering
  • Network
  • Client Side

When choosing what kind of penetration test is best for your organization, you can choose to do some subset of these either through white, grey, or black box penetration testing, or if deemed necessary, you could choose to do them all.

Typical Penetration Test Cost

The typical penetration test costs are dependent on many factors, making the most reasonable answer to this question, it depends… On average for a small nonprofit organization, the cost of a penetration test could be in the realm of $4,000. For extremely large organizations, the spectrum swings all the way up to $100,000. Likely, if you’re reading this you are part of a small to medium-sized company, where a penetration test would cost on average $4000 – $10,000.

If you’re concerned about the cost there are other ways to increase your cybersecurity defenses outside of a penetration test. Take our free Cybersecurity Self-Assessment to get tips and recommendations on what your organization can do to increase its security.

If you do think a penetration test would be useful, you can contact us to get a more personalized quote for penetration testing services and a free cybersecurity assessment.

Or if you’d just like to stay up to date with the latest in cybersecurity tips, you can sign up for our Cybersecurity Tip of the Week.