HR How to - what you need to know

  • Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Pat Eardley

Are you a small business owner with questions about your rights? Are you a supervisor whose employee is unhappy with the dress code policy? Or perhaps your company social media policy is not as enforceable as you might think.

Our newest online columnist, Pat Eardley, a human resources advisor with Shift HR, can answer all of your questions and more. This Q and A style column will appear online bi-monthly and will feature reader generated topics. (Identities will be omitted to protect individual privacy).

Eardley has spent 19 years in the human resources industry. She arrived in Charleston as assistant director of human resources with Wild Dunes Resort nearly eight years ago. She began her own consulting firm in 2009 to serve as an advocate for the small business owner.

As a consultant she assists small business owners in establishing their policies, procedures, addressing employee relations and succession planning for growth.

“An employee has several state and federal entities they can go to for help and or protection, while a business owner does not have those same resources as a preemptive measure,” she said.

She explained that her consulting service allows small business owners to be proactive, rather than reactive.

“An employer can do wrong simply out of unfamiliarity and the thought they are protecting themselves when in fact they are creating a liability. For example, no action is an action,” Eardley said.

“It is not always good to ignore a situation because you may set a precedence for the future.”

In 2009, when Eardley started her consulting business, there were 34,000 small businesses in the Lowcountry, with five or more employees.

“I saw that as room for me and a few more human resource consultants,” she said.

She explained that each state has different laws, which supersede federal law and she can easily research any topic if she does not have the policy memorized.

She said that more often than not, by the time her services are needed, there is already an issue. But her goal is to get companies to be proactive. “When I come in initially, it is to solve a problem. But once that is taken care of, policy is put into place so we don’t have to come down this road again,” she said.

“It’s not if you have an employee issue. It is when you have an employee issues,” she said. “It is never ‘if’.”

Common issues she is called in to address are poor performance, disciplinary actions, and things that should have taken place.

“No one likes conflict,” said Eardley. “And an employee feels better when they know what is expected of them. They know their job description and there are no 11th hour changes,” she explained. “It is crucial that all expectations are clear.” Compliance rules often change and small business owners don’t normally know which laws those might be. That’s where Eardley comes in. South Carolina is a right to work state, where you have a right to quit and a company owner has a right to terminate. But the company owner has the burden of proof to prove someone is not eligible for employment if an employee wants to dispute it.

Her new column will cover everything from training, conflict resolution, succession planning and diversity.

Email her your questions to Pat Eardley at pat@shifthr.com or visit her website at www.shifthr.com. All of her columns can be found online at www.MoultrieMews.com.

Pat Eardley is an H.R. advisor with more than 19 years’ experience in human resources management. She supports small-business owners, allowing them to have more time by focusing on creating a successful business environment for them and their employees. She is a SCORE Mentor and Member of the Center for Women and serves as a Job Coach there.

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