Tag Archives: Business

Jay Hardy Sells Company to Employees

Hardy Diagnostics now employee-owned

Jay Hardy, President of Hardy Diagnostics, recently crossed a big item off of his “to do” list—he sold the company to his employees that he and his lifelong friend,Rob Shibata, founded 34 years ago.  ”I have planned on doing this for a long time,” said Hardy.  “Owning Hardy Diagnostics has been tremendously rewarding for me.  Now everyone at Hardy Diagnostics can share in the joy and rewards of ownership, just as I have,” he said.

Employee ownership promotes participation and leadership on every level for the more than 230 employees of Hardy Diagnostics.  The company’s Open Book Management system encourages involvement and personal responsibility. As Rianna Malherbe, who has worked as a Technical Support Specialist for about a year puts it, “Having co-ownership means having a commitment to holding a bigger picture vision, even as I focus on everyday details of my personal role as part of our continuous improvement process.”

Ownership can be a major competitive advantage

Companies that are employee owned are known as ESOPs (Employee Stock Ownership Plan). Over time, employees are granted real shares in the company at no cost to them.  There are about 11,000 companies in the U.S. that are ESOPs like Hardy Diagnostics. Due to employee involvement, ESOPs generally have a superior track record compared to other companies. An ESOP is 25% more likely to stay in business. ESOPs have 25% higher job growth over the last 10 years compared to the non-ESOP.  Employees at ESOPs have retirement accounts that are 2.5 times greater than their non-ESOP counterparts and they were four times less likely to be laid off during the recent recession.

As employee owners, they work within a culture of ownership that produces both rights and responsibilities: the right to be informed about the management, strategy, and financial health of the company. They are also encouraged to question practices that may not be in the company’s best interest. The net result is to work in a positive environment and share in the company’s financial success.

As an employee-owned company, Hardy Diagnostics will not be obligated to outside shareholders who care only about the bottom line. This ensures the freedom to emphasize other values, like community involvement, environmental responsibility, and the wellness and satisfaction of the workforce as whole people.

“A company made of hundreds of owners who really care about their work is a powerful, if not unbeatable, force in the marketplace,” states Jay Hardy. “I get a great deal of satisfaction, when an employee tells me that they actually look forward to coming to work each day,” he adds.

Hardy Diagnostics is in good company

Hardy Diagnostics joins a long line of successful employee owned companies such as Southwest Airlines, Publix Super Markets, Gore-Tex, Clif Bar, New Belgium Brewery, and King Arthur Flour. Employee owned companies are renowned as some of the world’s best companies to work for due to their high-involvement employee cultures. Hardy Diagnostics is a successful and rapidly growing company; employee ownership makes a piece of the pie that much more coveted.

Source: PR Newwire


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Spherion: Celebrating the 2014 Emerging Workforce Study

Celebrating the Evolution of the Worker   

This is a sponsored post. 

Spherion partnered with bloggers such as me for their Emerging Workforce Study program. As part of this program, I received compensation for my time. They did not tell me what to purchase or what to say about any idea mentioned in these posts. Spherion believes that consumers and bloggers are free to form their own opinions and share them in their own words. Spherion’s policies align with WOMMA Ethics Code, FTC guidelines and social media engagement recommendations.

How I used to roll at work circa 1994

It may be too obvious to say that work has changed tremendously in recent years.  The tools I used 20 years ago are so different than the ones I use today that I actually can’t comprehend how I used to get my job done.  In 1994, I had a desktop computer at work, and another at home.  I carried a pocket beeper so my boss or fellow managers could “beep” me to call them back while travelling.  Fax machines were critically important, as were floppy disks.  I did have email and the Internet, which we called the World Wide Web.  There was no Google.

It isn’t like that now fortunately, and Spherion collects data every year to track the changes we experience in the workplace. This is useful info for HR professionals. The findings of the 2013 Emerging Workforce Study can be viewed here.

Spherion will release findings from its new 2014 Emerging Workforce Study in early April, marking the most recent year of research that began in 1997. Over more than 15 years, Spherion has surveyed nearly 200,000 workers to document groundbreaking research and report on important trends in the workforce.

  • The survey offers great statistics and trend information for HR managers and businesses, as well as providing tips on how to bridge the widening gap between employers’ and employees’ views.
  • The survey also includes data on generational differences, work-life balance and how social/digital media can impact HR strategies to increase engagement, productivity and retention, among other topics important to the workplace.

My work life for the past twenty years is essentially reflected in the infographic from Spherion featured below, except I never owned a purple suit.

The Evolution of the Worker Infographic

To highlight some of the interesting trends the EWS has uncovered over the last fifteen years, Spherion has developed an infographic depicting the evolution of the worker.

From downsizing and ethics scandals to reputational issues and social media, Spherion has tracked the major influences on workers and how they, their expectations and needs have changed over time and what it means for the future.

EOW Final (2)Sample data includes:

  • In 2005, time and flexibility ranked highest by workers as retention drivers, signaling a significant shift in workers’ desires for greater work-life balance. This has continued as a priority ever since and intensified as Millennials entered the workforce.
  • In 2012, workers reported that a company’s online reputation is a major consideration when contemplating a job offer. It’s certainly not just about the compensation package anymore.

Key study findings:

  • 46% of workers agree that the recession has made them more interested in pursuing a work arrangement outside of traditional full-time employment.
  • 45 percent of all workers believe a company’s social media outlet is influential when choosing a new employer, yet only 27 percent of companies believe social media outlets are influential on how a candidate views their organization.

Want to win a valuable prize?

In conjunction with releasing Spherion’s Evolution of the Worker infographic, Spherion is also releasing a new “Job or Career?” quiz to provide workers more information about their own “job or career” mindset.

The quiz is designed for consumers, HR professionals, employers, candidates and others who want to educate themselves more about applicable career topics.

Because you spend most of your waking hours at work, it’s important to know if your daily commitment to your job or career is fulfilling your work goals. This quiz, based on 15 years of research conducted by Spherion, will help you figure out if you are in a job or a career, and what steps to take to better improve your work life.

By taking the quiz on this site, you will be entered to win an American Express gift card! Simply post your results from the quiz as a comment on this post to enter.

Taking the quiz will also enter users to win one of three Career Boost Business Packs from Spherion that include an iPad Air and an assortment of other office essentials to help on their path to success!

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Ends 03/27/14. Void Where Prohibited.


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Meditation as a business practice, something to contemplate

Meditation can be good for your soul and your business

“ The riddle does not exist. If a question can be put at all, then it can also be answered. ”
— Ludwig Wittgenstein

Do you meditate? I do, although not as much as I should.

It helps to center you, and slow your mind down. It can help you relax during stressful times, and will often help you to think more clearly and make better decisions.

Sometimes it just turns into a nap, and that can be a good thing too. Other times it can give you an energy boost. Here’s guided meditation that lasts nine minutes and will give you an early morning energy boost with or without a cup of coffee.

Energy Boosting Meditation

Here are some additional resources on the topic if you find it interesting, including articles from HBR, Forbes, Wired and Fast Company.

How Meditation can make you a better leader

In Silicon Valley, everyone is meditating

HBR: if you are too busy to meditate, read this

Three reasons everyone at Google is meditating

There’s even a conference you can attend if you are so inclined: Wisdom 2.0 – the intersection of wisdom and technology

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HR Reincarnate


Society for Human Resource Management
Society for Human Resource Management (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
  1. 1.
    (as believed in some religions and philosophies) cause (someone) to undergo rebirth in another body.
    “a man may be reincarnated in animal form”
  1. 1.
    reborn in another body.
    “he claims that the girl is his dead daughter reincarnate

Matt Stollak asked me about a piece I wrote back in 2009 called HR – not dead yet, which I wrote while a great debate was raging on one of the old LFR blogs over whether HR was dead or alive.

Here’s part of that piece.

HR is not dying.

I would agree it is bifurcating to a certain extent, from a blended generalist type function into several smaller more specialized areas, like talent management, etc,.  But there is still a need for someone to do the shit work that line  managers hate when it comes to dealing with people.  There is also a need to ensure that the bad managers out there  be required to stick to some form of cultural consistency and conformity.

I think too many HR people hunker down and develop a reactive mentality to issues. We need to stop trying to avoid disasters and litigation.

HR peeps need to step out and make shit happen.

When you do that, you are at the table, whether you got invited or not.

BTW – the invites are not coming any time soon.   You have to create the opportunity. Same holds true for authority and respect. And you have to work to hold on to them once you have them. They are pesky and disappear quickly.

The great companies out there typically have great HR departments under the hood somewhere. But there is also a lot of “What have you done for me lately?”

Stop hiding.

Do the work.

Make shit happen.

HR rocks anywhere that happens.

It still sounds like sound advice to me.

I think the HR conversation has shifted in the blogosphere over the last five years.  Our echo chamber has expanded.  We have more champions of HR like Steve Brown advocating the joys of our profession.  SHRM has adopted social media as an effective means of sharing knowledge.  New bloggers have come on the scene, adding their contributions.

We rarely talk about tables any more.  That’s true progress.

Keep up the good work, HR!

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When your employees fear the boss

Why employees join unions

Detroit and Windsor
Detroit and Windsor (Photo credit: dherrera_96)

I’m headed to Detroit today to say farewell to an old friend, so I’m recycling some old content a bit for today’s post.

You may wonder why your employees would think about joining a union. Your employees will only think about going outside your company for help  for a few reasons.

  1. You have something  they want, and they’re seeking help to get it.
  2. You gave them something they like, and now they are afraid you’re going to take it away.
  3. You don’t listen to them when they tell you stuff.

Good employee relations practices can help you avoid these issues.  It also helps to remove poor performers from your organization, and to reward excellent organizational achievements on a regular basis.

The final piece of advice I’ll share is brilliantly simple.  Believe in your culture, run your organization with your employees as the top priority, and have the intestinal fortitude to face challenges with resolve if they come your way.

Otherwise you may wind up dealing with something like this.

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The Fierce Urgency of Now


I wish I could go to this event this. It’s Conscious Capitalism – The Fierce Urgency of Now: Building Fully  Human Organizations.  I don’t think I can make it happen in 2014.  Looks like some very cool stuff, including:

Accelerating Business Growth through Conscious Leadership

The Art & Science of Sustainable High Performance Fueling Human Capacity in a World of Infinite Demand

Elevating Your Business through Employee Engagement

From Insight to Action

Industry leadership, Strategic Storytelling and the Humanity of your Brand

It will definitely be on my agenda for 2015. Maybe they need a blogger because NOW I really want to attend!

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Case studies from great companies #4pillars

2014 Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For

Yesterday I wrote about the 4 pillars of a sustainable employment brand.  The very first of those was the idea of fostering a positive employee relations environment.  Coincidentally, today was the release date for the 2014  Fortune list of 100 Best Companies to Work For.  This list is an awesome resource for case studies and best practices from some of the very best employers in the United States.  Maybe you can’t do everything you find here, but I guarantee you will find something here that would benefit your organization.

My friend China Gorman, CEO of the Great Place to Work Institute published some fabulous data on her blog a few days ago that clearly illustrates the value of a being a great employer.  Companies on the Fortune/GPTWI list excel in their performance, including:

One of the most prominent trends we’ve seen with Best Companies this year is growth. For 2014 100 Best Companies with available revenue data, revenues in the last 24 months have risen an average of 22.2% and headcount is increasing to match that. The number of employees at the 2014 100 Best Companies increased by an average of 6.1% since 2012 and 15.4% since 2011 which, according to Current Employment Statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, is nearly five times the growth rate of U.S. companies overall in the same two-year period.

Publix just made the list for the 17th consecutive year.  It’s a pretty great place to work.

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4 pillars of a sustainable employment brand

Make sure your employment brand is sustainable

Recruitment (Photo credits: www.mydoorsign.com)

Since I started blogging in a regular basis again< I’m also doing guest posting elsewhere from time to time. I’m also returning to the blogger lineup over on Blogging4Jobs.  In fact, my first post for them in 2014 went up yesterday as part of their Recruiting Trends theme week.

My post is 2014 Recruiting Trends: Employment Brands Under Fire #recruittrends Go check it out.

Four ways to build your employment brand

Here are four solid things you can do to make sure your organization maintains a sustainable employment brand.

1.  Foster a positive employee relations environment.  I firmly believe that strong, capable, integrity based leadership  is a key element for success in any organization.  Practicing clear consistent organizational behavior with a clear mission, strong values, and fair treatment of your employees are the foundation elements for a healthy, high performing organization.

2. Put some skin in the game.  I have worked for two employee owned companies, and all the following statements about those companies are still true.  More Profitable. Better performance. More engaged employees.  We need more employee owned companies.

3.  Ensure your business is involved in the community.  If the company contributes to the community, so will the employees.  It becomes a virtuous circle, and builds a better performing organization because people will know you care.  ContributeBuildCreate.

These strategies all build the positive side of your employment brand, and boost your ability to recruit.  They are important all the time, every day.  Make sure your organization is focusing on them.

4. Focus on monitoring  your brand via social media for positive and negative messaging.  In 2014, I believe it will become critical that corporations have a strategy in place to find and respond to such issues as they develop.  While it is inevitable that your response strategy will need coordination across a variety of business units, this is something strategic that HR can take the lead on.

This isn’t stuff you do for damage control or in response to a crisis.  This is stuff you plan and execute as part of every day HR plan.  You can  make your company better and make sure that your employment brand investment continues to pay off every day.


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Naming a business: pitfalls and tips

A rose by any other name

Naming a business that is much more difficult than one might expect. Here are some resources to assist with that challenging task.

I was talking to my friend Chrissanne Long who owns and operates a great local business networking group called Lakeland Business Leaders and I mentioned missing a recent meeting that got lost in the holiday shuffle.  She responded that we all lose stuff in the “holiday shiffle.”  We both laughed and she joked that she going to register the domain for shiffle bcause she swears, half the time that seems to be the way people come up with names for their products and businesses.

That conversation got me thinking about this post idea. Ok, I’ve been thinking about business names too, but how to go about it was a good idea for that research and a blog post.  During the research, I googled “”Shiffle”. It turns out that Chrissanne wouldn’t have been able to get it anyway. It was already taken, by an HR related tech product of all things.

Shiffle (http://www.shiffle.com/) is really simple shift scheduling software.

Shiffle is also a slang term in the Urban Dictionary:

Drizzle and Shake Combined!
Yo let shiffle that thousand island on your salad homie.
by aubreony September 18, 2011
Bottom line point  here is two fold. You never know where you might get your inspiration for a business name from, and you also never know who might have been inspired by something else first.  That’s why it’s important to do some research first.
Here are some tips to help with that.
Let me know how it goes.
Business (Photo credits: www.roadtrafficsigns.com)

Choose Your Business Name

8 Mistakes To Avoid When Naming Your Business

Ten tips for naming your company

Tips for Naming Your Business

12 Tips for Naming a Business, Brand or Product

Great tips! Really helpful advise for naming a #startup –> “How to Name Your Company

How to pick the perfect name for your startup or business

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Work looks different when you own it

Worker owned companies are better

Over the course of my career I’ve been privileged to work at some excellent companies.  Three of them, Texas Instruments, Andersen Windows, and my current employer Publix all had plans that allowed the employees to own an interest in the company via stock or an ESOT or profit-sharing.  These companies shared some common elements.

They were profitable, and high performing.  The employees were committed and engaged.  The cultures were viewed as enviable.   The ownership aspect may not have been the only driver of this success, but it is certainly a major contributor.

When you are an employee AND an owner, it makes the workplace look different.  I can attest personally, it makes you think differently about how you treat company resources.

Skin in the game makes you a better player for the team.

I was reminded of this when I saw this headline from the LaCrosse Tribune,  Badger Corrugating hands over 40 percent ownership to workers.

Check out why the owner gave nearly half the family to his employees:

ESOPs are an increasingly common tool used by businesses to spur growth, save on taxes and get workers more involved in decision-making, said Mary Jo Werner, a CPA and partner with Wipfli in La Crosse.

The plans serve as an option for retirement savings, giving employees a nest egg to hold and sell when they leave the company. Nearly 10.3 million workers in the United States share ownership in their company through an ESOP, including employees at the La Crosse-based grocer Festival Foods.

A percentage of a business’ profits are not taxed with an ESOP, equal to the percentage of the company owned by workers. Tax savings are reinvested into the company.

Ownership can change a worker’s feelings about the fate of the company, engaging them and inspiring teamwork. That kind of attitude adjustment is another potential boon for ESOP businesses, Werner said.

“If you have a stake in the outcome, if you’re an owner in something, you’ll work a little harder,” Werner said. “Be a little more mindful of what opportunities there are for the company.”

Sounds like pretty good advice.  Maybe more companies should look at this strategy in the future.  There are plenty of great companies to benchmark against.  check out this list of great employers from the National Center for Employee Ownership.

Great Employee-Owned Workplaces

The following employee-owned companies have all been recognized as great workplaces by either Winning Workplaces or Fortune Magazine’s 100 Best Companies to Work For. Employee-owned companies are consistently over-represented on these lists, because in addition to an ownership interest, they often also provide an ownership culture of trust and respect between employees and company leadership. Find more information on employee-owned companies at our survey and list resource gallery!

The companies are listed by industry:

Jobs in Design, Production, and Manufacturing

W.L. Gore & Associates, Performance Wear, Electronics, Cables, and More.
PCL Construction Enterprises, Construction of Commercial Buildings and Civil Infrastructure.
ATA Engineering, Specializing in Complex Mechanical Structures.
Restek, Cromatography Products.
David Evans & Associates, Engineering, Architecture, and Consulting Firm.
Burns & McDonnell, Engineering, Architecture, and Consulting Firm.
Granite Construction, Infrastructure-Related Construction.
TDIndustries, Mechanical Construction and Facility Service.
Medtronic, Medical Technology.
Chroma Technology, Optical Filters.
Exactech, Orthopaedic Products and Solutions.
Hypertherm, Plasma Cutting Systems.
The Railroad Associates Corp., Railroad Design and Construction.
The Sky Factory, Residential and Commercial Skylights.
Skyline Construction Inc., Sustainable/Green Building Construction.
Barclay Water Management, Water Treatment Products and Solutions.

Jobs in Commercial Services

Paychex, Payroll and Human Resource Services.
Quad/Graphics, Print Media Services.
Biomarc, Sterilization of Commercial Environments.
Van Meter Industrial, Electrical and Mechanical Supplier.

Jobs in Finance

Phelps County Bank, General Banking and Investments.
Principal Financial Group, General Banking and Investments.
Bailard Inc., Investment Banking.

Jobs in the Food and Beverage Industry

New Belgium Brewery, Brewery based out of Fort Collins, CO.
King Arthur Flour, America’s Oldest Flour Company.
Publix Supermarkets, Supermarkets throughout the Southeast.
QuikTrip, Convenience Stores in the Midwest and South.

Jobs in Software Design

Autodesk, 3D Design, Entertainment and Engineering Software.
Heavy Construction Systems Specialists Inc., Heavy Construction Software.
Analytical Graphics Inc., Space, Defense and Intelligence Software.

Jobs in Consumer Goods Companies

Jackson’s Hardware, Hardware Store in Northern California.
Men’s Wearhouse, National Men’s Clothing Store Chain.
Proctor & Gamble, Nationally Distributed Household Products.




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