HR Consultant - McGeachy Consulting




Posts in Blog
Are you in Compliance with the Salary History Ban?

Does your jurisdiction have a salary history ban?
A number of states and several municipalities have passed laws banning employers from asking candidates about their past compensation. When I first heard this ban was coming I was puzzled by how employers would attract top talent fairly without this knowledge. I have spent a considerable part of my career conducting senior and executive level searches for clients. Compensation is one of the most common ways to lure a candidate away from their current opportunity. Without that knowledge, it feels a little bit like shooting at a dartboard in the dark hoping you have the right compensation range to attract A+ talent to your organization.

Check your state or local municipality here.

Why the change?
Pay equity. If you flip the issue upside down, states have determined that employers are unknowingly perpetuating the issue of pay equity by asking a candidate's salary, learning that it’s perhaps low and then offering them just enough to attract the candidate to make a career move. In this situation, you have an employee that’s being paid lower than the salary range and lower than their peers in the same job. Research tells us that this typically happens to women and the result is the gender pay gap.

Recruiter Stacey Moore says, “Overall I like the change and see the benefit for creating pay equity.” It has not been an easy change for people involved in recruiting and selecting talent and Stacey recommends that employers continue to educate their hiring managers, recruiters, and anyone involved in the recruitment process.

What’s the remedy?  
The best practice that we recommend to clients is to explain the pay range to candidates during the phone interview, such as disclosing that a position pays in a range between $70,000 and $85,000. You might also ask if that range would meet the candidate's salary expectations.

What to do if an employee volunteers their compensation?
If you write it down, make note that the information was volunteered by the candidate without prompting. Remind the candidate that you can’t consider past compensation as part of the process (or specifically educate them about the Salary History Ban if it applies in your jurisdiction).

Is it awkward?
At first, yes! Will we someday look back at the past decades where we asked for salary history and think that it contributed to the overall wage gap? I believe we will.

What are your thoughts? How is this working in your business? Please add your comment below.


Amy McGeachy is an HR Consultant and the Founder of The Exceptional Workplace, a newsletter to help small business leaders stay focus on proactive HR and People Practices. Never miss an issue - join HERE.

Adding a Wellness Program to Your Small Business Can Pay Off

Should small business owners care about the wellness or the well-being of their employees?


In 2019, wellness and well-being are as much a part of the workplace as healthcare benefits and paid time off. Employers range from caring about wellness all the way to implementing a full wellness program. The range of options is huge.

Employers have learned that by caring about wellness they get a positive ROI in terms of productivity and engagement. It looks and feels different in each business from a small change to a full wellness program.

Adding a wellness program to your small business culture can literally save money. In a survey by SFM they found that “60% of employers said their workplace wellness programs reduced their organization's healthcare costs”.


Workplace wellness can really pay off

20 ways to add wellness to your small business


20 Ways to add Employee Wellness to your Small Business

  1. Ensure that employees take breaks. This one sounds simpler than it really is but give employees a good reason to take a break from work.

  2. Take a walking 1:1.

  3. Sign up for a team 5K event.

  4. Add a fruit bowl to your employee breakroom.

  5. Encourage your team, or even set up a policy, to not send emails 24 hours a day. Check out this policy by Vynamic (healthcare industry management consultants) about zzzMail.

  6. Add fresh water infused with cucumber, mint or strawberry to your employee breakroom.

  7. Host an office ‘step challenge’.

  8. Offer flexible schedules.

  9. Add standing desks to the office.

  10. Create a treadmill desk workstation that anyone can use.

  11. Volunteer at a local running event (with your families).

  12. Add a mindfulness activity to the start of your team meetings. As silly as this sounds, you will thank me for this as it changes the mindset and pace of your meeting.

  13. Invite a yoga instructor to conduct a lunch time yoga class for your team.

  14. Implement a ‘bring your well-behaved dog to work’ policy.

  15. Invite a massage therapist to offer 15-minute chair massages for your team.

  16. Add an Employee Assistance Program to your benefits.

  17. Take a hike with your team for your next off-site or team builder.

  18. Encourage your team to take mid-day exercise classes (together!)

  19. Offer to pay for employees’ gym membership as part of their employee perks or (up to a certain dollar amount).

  20. Lead by example. If the leader has a healthy work-life that translates to the workplace culture. Empower leaders to model a healthy balance.

How has adding a wellness focus or program to your small business made an impact? Please share via the comments section below.

Sharing is caring. Share to your favorite social media tool below.

Are you looking for ways to retain the great employees you already have? Check out our post on what you need to know about your employees if you want to keep them around.


Are you looking to retain the great employees you already have?

Employee Appreciation Day Formula that Delivers an Excellent Experience

According to the research conducted by Gary Chapman and Paul White the authors of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace, people feel appreciated in 5 different categories: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Acts of Service, Tangible Gifts and Physical Touch (that last one is not appropriate for the workplace!). Given our workplace climate, we will focus on the first four. As you think about your workplace, showing your appreciation in a variety of forms will be the best way to reach your diverse team.

Employee Appreciation Day Formula --->

food + gift, act of service, or event + handwritten note of appreciation = employees who feel appreciated


  • Lattes

  • Specialty donuts

  • Locally sourced bagels

  • Healthy, delicious, catered lunch

Gift, Act of Service, or Event:

  • Schedule a chair massage therapist to come to your office

  • Car wash (or car wash gift card)

  • Magazine subscription (how about Fast Company, Entrepreneur, Inc.?)

  • A special book

  • Bottle of wine

  • Use chalk on the sidewalk outside your office to draw your appreciation: 'Our team ROCKS!' If your team is large, have a few of your leaders meet you early in the morning to help cover the sidewalk with appreciation of everyone on your team. You could even use alliteration to match the first letter of their first name with an adjective such as: Can-do Carly or Sales Slugger Sam.

Handwritten Note of Appreciation:


Write handwritten notes of appreciation for each person on your team.

Finally, it’s not about how significant your appreciation day events or gifts are, it’s how much love goes into the act of appreciating your team members. Something simple with buckets-full of appreciation can be magnificent.

Small Business Leaders; Here are 10 Reasons to be Grateful.

In honor of Thanksgiving and the upcoming Small Business Saturday gratitude and all of the love for small businesses is in the air. To reinforce the benefits small business leaders enjoy, as opposed to their counterparts running massive organizations, here is a list of reasons to be grateful for leading in a small business.


10 Reasons Small Business Leaders can be Grateful.

#theexceptionalworkplace #smallbusinesssaturday

  1. You know all of your employees by name, their family, and you might even know their dog's name too!

  2. Your entire leadership team can sit around one table.

  3. Making a business change to ebb and flow as needed is like steering a kayak, it takes some effort but your hard work will pay off, versus captaining a large vessel.

  4. You have a significant influence on what's happening in your workplace. Awe, the sweet feeling of good ol' American independence.

  5. Team building, with your entire team, is possible! Try this one --> Portraits of Appreciation

  6. Calling a morning huddle in the lobby or conference room doesn't usually require calculating time zones and video conferencing.

  7. A dozen (or two or three) Blue Star Donuts makes for a sweet snack for your afternoon all staff team meeting.

  8. As a leader you can share your vision in 1:1 dialog to ensure that everyone is engaged.

  9. Some fantastic tools are free to small businesses under a certain number! Officevibe (employee engagement tool) is one example.

  10. In times of significant excitement or significant sadness for your business or team, your whole workforce comes together to support and encourage.

Bonus: Small business leaders know their workforce well enough to realize that enrolling team members in a "Jelly of the Month" club is not a good holiday gift (a la the movie Christmas Vacation with Chevy Chase).

Love practical tips for creating an exceptional business? We’ve got loads more in The Exceptional Workplace! We help small business leaders (CEO, Owners, HR, Controllers) cultivate exceptional workplaces through strong HR and people practices. 

What is Employer Branding and How Can it Benefit Your Small Business?
Employer Branding

Employer branding can help your business succeed with hiring qualified candidates. But, what is employer branding, exactly?

With unemployment currently at 3.9%, it's a tough market for hiring managers at the moment. As a result, you'll have to make your company as attractive as possible to find the best employees.

That's where branding comes in.

You've probably heard of branding as it relates to marketing. But what is employer branding and how can it help your business flourish?

Here's everything you'll need to know to establish your company as the perfect place to work.

What Is Employer Branding, Anyway?

If you ask 10 different companies to define employment branding, you're likely going to get 10 very different answers. For the sake of this post, however, we'll be using our own.

Employer branding is an umbrella term referring to a cluster of efforts by your company to establish and affirm an image of your workplace. Often, companies use marketing methods similar to those they'd use in an ad campaign.

For the time being, think of employment branding as any actions you take to highlight your business and showcase it to outside talent.

Examples of Employer Branding

Now, let's look at how a few major companies use branding to establish an identity.


Google is an absolute master of branding. In fact, reading the brand's name likely conjured up images of the company's colorful logo.

Suffice to say, they're quite good at what they do, and that extends to their recruitment process.

Google's strategy is one so powerful, they subtly turned an entire film, The Internship, into one great big promotion highlighting their workforce.

Their strategy often relies on appearing down to earth, making them the fun place to work. From ping pong tables in the break room to gourmet food at the cafeteria, Google took the start-up approach to branding and made it mainstream.


From one monolith to the next, Starbucks also excels as branding. Though it doesn't have the backing of a movie starring Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn, Starbucks' approach focuses on the employees.

In fact, Starbucks has one of the most competitive employee benefits packages out there.

The baristas who make your delicious beverage each day have access to health care, free online college, yearly raises, and even company stock. It's no wonder why the green siren's song is so alluring to talent!

Taco Bell

Though Taco Bell's internal branding strategy isn't as widespread or powerful as the two aforementioned companies, it's still quite impressive in its own right.

Taco Bell's main focus is employee retention, as highlighted in its 'Start with us stay with us' campaign, which sheds light on Yum! Brands' love of hiring from within.

It's a smart strategy, especially in an industry where turnover is notoriously high.

Why Does Company Branding Matter?

Now we know a bit more about employment branding. But does it matter as much as we're implying?

Absolutely, it does.

Let's say you're out of work and looking for a new job. As you begin your search you find yourself awash in a sea of companies that, frankly, all sound similar.

Then you come across an employer that stands above the rest. Their listing is fun, they talk about company culture, and they offer a competitive signing bonus and benefits package. In the span of a few moments, you've forgotten about every other application you sent out.

On the flip side, let's say you're an HR manager looking to make some changes to your company's hiring policies. Branding can benefit you, as well.

Better branding can decrease the amount of time you spend on the entire hiring process. And at the end of the day, you'll have the best hire, too.

Using Branding to Your Benefit

It's clear that branding should be a huge part of any company's strategy. But finding ways to create and implement that great image can be difficult unless you know how to effectively use your time, money, and efforts.

Here are a few of the most effective branding methods to try.

Employee Testimonials

You can try and convince talent that your company is great until you're blue in the face, but don't expect it to work. They'd much rather hear it from those who work for you.

Employee testimonials give an inside look at your business, showing would-be hires what your company stands for and what they can expect.

Start by asking employees what they love about your company and what it means to them. You can even use these testimonials as content. For instance, around Thanksgiving, you can publish an employee-driven post about what your team is most thankful for.

Highlight Office Culture

Office culture can make or break a company. If your workplace is drab and dreary, you can't expect much productivity or new hires.

Instead, show off how fun and vibrant your office and its staff are. Take some photos or videos of your office throughout the workday. You may also want to highlight the quiet, human moments between coworkers and the fun, bombastic atmosphere of an employee celebration.

Whatever the case, show off your office. As the saying goes, a picture is worth 1,000 words.

Offer a Competitive Benefits Package

As important as outside perception of your workplace is, you'll need more than that. Make sure you're prepared to offer a sufficient benefits package to your employees.

Go the extra mile for your employees, and they'll go the extra mile for you.

Include vision and dental, a 401k, and discounts at local retailers or a health club membership. Think about the types of fun, practical benefits you'd want. Chances are your employees would like them, too.

Master the Art of Storytelling

Finally, make your listings as compelling as possible. Tell a story about who you are as a brand and why new hires should take an interest in your company.

Use vivid, descriptive language. Highlight how exciting and important the position is. Be sure to mention any additional benefits or perks that come with the job.

Last Thoughts On The Significance Of Employer Branding

So, to wrap things up, what is employer branding?

It's a way to stand out from your competition. It's a way to attract the best talent around and encourage them to be successful within your company. Best of all, it's a way to grow your business while showing off the heart of your team.

We work with businesses like yours each day to help them find the tools they need to succeed in today's market.

If you're interested in learning more about how you can streamline common HR processes for your business, be sure to get in touch and ask about our services.

Book Review: Make Your Bed
Make Your Bed.jpg

Earlier this summer I picked up the book Make Your Bed to read with my kids. It was a book I purchased on a whim at Target (hoping to inspire my kids!) written by Admiral (Navy Seal) William McRaven. It has a significant amount of leadership, personal fortitude, and integrity lessons throughout that are relevant to the workplace. The author told numerous stories that will stick with me. Most of the stories started with a lesson about himself as a Navy Seal trainee and then turned into a story about how someone else lived out the lesson. His style was humble even given his status as an Admiral.

We started reading it aloud chapter by chapter and it found its way on several road trips (a softball tournament, San Juans, the beach, Sunriver). With each chapter we had to stop and google information that was referenced including ‘hospital corners’ and what it means to a Navy Seal when they become a ‘sugar cookie’. We researched fascinating leaders, world history, and the rigors of becoming a Navy Seal — all while learning important life and leadership lessons.

It’s surely not your typical business book but the lessons and content are certainly relevant to people and workplaces.

Onboarding is the ‘secret sauce’ to cultivating great team

As published in the Vancouver Business Journal on July 20, 2018


Sixty-nine percent of employees who experience a proper on-boarding stay on the job for three years. If that’s not enough to catch your attention consider this: 20 percent of turnover happens in the first 45 days (Click Boarding).

We know that no business sets out to create an environment of chaos or one that is unwelcoming or even one that is boring, but new hires frequently report that their on-boarding is all three. New hires often report that they don’t have enough to do. Sitting at a desk or workstation staring at the computer with nothing to do to be productive is dreadful. And, it happens to new hires frequently.

An onboarding plan is a method by which a company acclimates, engages and retains new employees (Society of Human Resource Management). On-boarding is the secret sauce to cultivating a great team.

What should be included in an onboarding plan?


Before the First Day:

  • Stay connected to your new recruit between the offer and their first day.
  • Start on-boarding before your new team member’s first day by sending a welcome email or even a video greeting. This email will tell the employee what time and where to arrive on the first day of work, what they should wear and perhaps a bit about their first-day schedule. It will also convey how excited you are that the team member is coming to work for you.
  • Share the news with your current team about your new hire, their start date, and some details about their background. Proactive communication with your team will help create an inviting environment for the new hires’ first day and transparency for your workforce.
  • Mail a card to the new hire signed by the entire team.


First Day:

  • The ideal first day should have a fully booked agenda with minimal downtime. Okay, just a little to let the employee login to systems and email. But not too much or things get boring. Naturally, the first day will include a meeting with their manager and also Human Resources or Payroll for important first-day paperwork.
  • Show team members that you are expecting their arrival by creating a new hire welcome kit and have it sitting on their desk on the first day. Perhaps add some company swag in the form of a water bottle, coffee mug or company logo-wear to their welcome kit.
  • Power-up their workstation to include all necessary supplies, technology, usernames and passwords that will be important for their work. If applicable order business cards, name tag, and ID badge before their first day.
  • Provide a tour of the office along with introductions. Also, include a map of workstations so that they can easily find team members after the tour. Give new hires access to an employee directory and organizational chart.
  • Take the new hire to lunch. Make a plan to take the new team member to lunch either in a group or 1:1.
  • End of day wrap-up. Schedule a check-in at the end of the first day. Ask what went well and what could have gone better to gather insight as you plan for the remainder of their on-boarding. Repeat this check-in often.


Beyond the First Day:

  • Create a schedule for the first two to three weeks. Pre-set essential meetings throughout the first weeks so that the new hire knows what to expect. Ideas include: meetings with business leaders, meetings with peers, having them sit in or join a special task force or project.
  • Plan a formal sit down, or 1:1, with the manager and new employee at 30, 60 and 90 days.
  • Assign ramp-up goals. What should the new hire accomplish in the first 30, 60 and 90 days?
  • Schedule time for the new team member to train on all aspects of the business, not only their department. Cross-training and introductions to all departments in the first weeks can be helpful.
  • Ask the new hire to rate his/her on-boarding at the end of 90 days. What went well? What could have gone better?


How long is the onboarding process?

A full 90 days. Yes, it is more intense upfront with the first day planned out by every hour. As the on-boarding progresses, you can check in and guide less frequently. Managers fail though when they stop engaging with their new hire after the first two to three weeks and assume they are all set.

The ideal scenario with onboarding is that a business recruits a talented superstar and they meet their superstardom beginning on the first day. Engage them, train them and set them free to contribute their talents to the business. On-boarding can go one of two ways: an employee reports to their friends and family that “it’s fine,” or they report, perhaps even brag on social media, that they “made the best career decision ever.” It’s your choice.


Amy McGeachy, PHR, is an HR consultant in Southwest Washington and the founder of McGeachy Consulting and The Exceptional Workplace. She has spent nearly a decade working hands-on with small business owners to cultivate their workforce and create the kind of businesses they’re proud to lead.

Employee Appreciation Day Plans

Life can be hectic, let’s not be plagued by the preparation for Employee Appreciation Day, which will be here in a few short weeks, March 2nd, 2018. Let’s brainstorm some options to help you show big appreciation to your team.

And, if you’re hesitating STOP.

This is about creating culture, helping employees develop a love for your company, giving your team members a reason to tell others about their delightful workplace (hello, instagramable workplace). This is not about you giving more. It’s about you caring about your team.



employee appreciation day

It's not how much we give, but how much love we put into giving.

Mother Teresa



The idea of taking care of those people who are in service to you is such a lovely act of kindness. This, aside from all other acts, can go a long, LONG way. Why not flip things upside down for a bit and serve your team members?

How about a waffle bar with the CEO as the main server? Another spin on this is a nacho bar or a car wash.


Some employees will be overjoyed with a little bit of surprise on this day of appreciation. Take for example a conference room that is filled with balloons, each with a sharpie-written note of appreciation for individual team members, “Charlotte your customer service skills are exquisite. We are lucky to have you!” What fun it is to find your balloon and read your note. Order lunch in and give them a coupon for an hour (or more) of flexibility in their workday in the coming month and you’re all set.

Have a whiteboard in your office? Cover the whiteboard in notes of appreciation for your team. Big, bright words telling them how grateful you are that they are part of your team. The bigger, the more of an impression it will make. Add a dessert buffet to the conference table and a small gift. Well done.


Looking to add to your office perks to attract and retain talent? This is a great day to reveal the additions to your team.

  • Extra holidays - World at Work says that the average business observes 9 paid holidays per year

  • Enriched PTO Plan - Average PTO plans start at 16 days per year for new employees

  • Add a 401k if you don’t already have one

  • Implement a flexible workplace policy

Offer this along with donuts and coffee in the morning and a handwritten note from the team leader and you have a solid employee appreciation day.


Love practical tips for creating an exceptional business? We’ve got loads more in The Exceptional Workplace! We help small business leaders (CEO, Owners, HR, Controllers) cultivate exceptional workplaces through strong HR and people practices. 

The Annual Performance Review is Dead, Now What?

It’s been a slow death, but the Annual Performance Review is for the most part, dead. Soon, we will no longer hear about the annual performance review from companies large or small. It’s a giant, unproductive exercise in project management for the CEO or HR leader with ineffective outcomes.

If you’re like most of the small business leaders that I know you have...

  • Decided not to performance reviews anymore
  • Forgot, ignored and have not done performance reviews in the past 1-2 years
  • Never did annual performance reviews




Why are annual performance reviews so darn ineffective?

  1. They are a recap of a year’s worth of performance. The employees in the 2018 workplace want to spend time looking at the present and the future. They don’t want to look back at 12 months of performance whether it was good or bad. They are asking, what’s next for me, now? What’s coming in the next 3 months?

  2. Our workplaces are fast-paced.. Employees and employers need to have more regular communication about performance and waiting 12 months between reviews is simply too long to build any momentum or plan for development.

  3. Managers were never really good at them. That’s right, when you do something only one time per year you never really get in a steady cadence to be consistent and effective. Besides, most managers begrudgingly did them just to check to a box.

And, I’m sorry! I have pushed the annual performance review in the past and even rolled out new systems to organizations. With a lack of employee/employer feedback it feels like an obvious tool to communicate but alas I think we can do better. We can communicate in better ways to create workplaces where feedback, goal setting, and coaching are frequent and executed with ease.

Now What?

Small businesses are embracing quarterly reviews. This can be a game changer for your culture, business goals aligned with individual goals, and communication. Let’s look at why and how to do this right.

I am a humongous fan of dropping the annual performance review and replacing it with quarterly reviews. This can be a game changer for your culture when business goals aligned with individual goals and communication. Let’s talk more about why and how to do this right.



5 Benefits of Quarterly Reviews

  1. Cadence - Setting a quarterly cadence helps keep the goals top-of-mind and allows managers and employees to get good at having quarterly performance dialog.

  2. Set achievable, top-of-mind, goals - Set goals that set are small bites (or at least bites of a bigger goal) which makes them easier to digest and accomplish.

  3. Accountability - With a quarterly cadence, and setting meetings in advance, there is accountability built into the process.

  4. Lightweight - Quarterly review are lightweight. They should be thought of a process that is used to manage performance and not an annual event that you do.

  5. Feed Forward - Annual reviews were a tool to provide feedback. Think of quarterly reviews as a way to feed forward and look ahead at goals and performance for the coming quarter.


Here is how to start implementing a quarterly review process

Follow these steps below or use our Quarterly Performance Goals download to get started. The download includes a how-to guide, sample review, and a fillable PDF and it can be found on this site under Premium Content.  

Lay the Foundation - Develop a structure for your quarterly reviews including basic guidelines (who, what, when, where, why and how). Communicate the process to your team and allow time for questions. Also, communicate your goal for continuous improvement in this process. For example, at first we are going to start by using only 3 questions and a 1-page the future, we may add questions and perhaps even utilize software to help manage the quarterly reviews.

Monitor and Improve - Once everyone has completed the first round of dialog seek feedback. Ask managers and ask employees so that you can get a sense of how things went. Look at the results of the review conversations (the quarterly review forms or documentation) for feedback.


Sample Quarterly Review Questions

Assuming you and your team member know the company’s overall goal and mission for the year let the quarterly review be a dialog. Both of you will come prepared to chat and come to an agreement on the following questions:

The beginning of the quarter:

  • What are your goals for the quarter?
  • How will you make progress towards those goal(s) this quarter?
  • What tools and resources will you need to accomplish your goals?
  • How does your goal contribute to the company’s overall business goals?

The end of the quarter:

  • What was your biggest accomplishment in the past quarter?
  • Describe where you struggled
  • What’s one thing that could be going better?

Then, document what has been discussed (Google Doc, blank piece of paper, napkin, use this guide, whatever!) and make sure that both the employee and the manager get a copy.

Set a date for the next quarterly review 3 months out. Rinse and repeat.

Keep this process lightweight. One downfall of the ‘annual performance review’ has been the heavy burden that it creates for people. Your goal by changing your process is to make it effective and simple. If it’s too heavy and difficult you’re doing something wrong.


Download your How-to Guide and Quarterly Performance Goals Worksheet. Your guide to ditching the annual performance review and replacing it with employee-driven, actionable quarterly goals.

Ready ditch the annual performance review and replace it with employee-driven actionable quarterly goals? Consider joining The Exceptional Workplace premium content. There you will find the intuitive How-to Guide and a Quarterly Performance Goals Worksheet specifically curated for small and medium-sized businesses. Download your copy today and get started.



Love practical tips for creating an exceptional business? We’ve got loads more in The Exceptional Workplace! We help small business leaders (CEO, Owners, HR, Controllers) cultivate exceptional workplaces through strong HR and people practices. Learn more here.