David is a strategic, Human Resources Consultant and a certified Professional in Human Resources (PHR), with seven years of experience in HR and employee benefits. You can follow David on Twitter here and find him on LinkedIn here. He has a proven track record of success in the areas of client & employee relations, compliance, benefits & compensation and policy development. He is committed to servicing clients with various needs, while keeping them compliant with required FLSA and DOL guidelines. His knowledge of Human Resources and the PEO industry, coupled with his exposure to industries with differing company objectives, allows him to create positive solutions for his client’s diverse needs.
1. Most job postings cite “X” years of relevant work experience and specific education criteria as requirements to be considered for the position. With this in mind, what prior work experiences and degrees/certifications/training helped prepare you for your current role?
Most recently, on June 6, I passed my PHR exam and was thrilled to see that pass status! After six months of hard work and dedication, 13 weeks of prep classes and countless hours of studying, I was able to become a certified Professional in Human Resources. My certification will definitely help me in my current role as an HR Consultant while we continue to grow. The textbook knowledge needed to get this certification was intense. However, there’s truly no substitute for experience. I have seen many different situations in the last two years that some HR professionals never see in 10 plus years. We service a variety of clients ranging in both size and industry, so I have been exposed to many new situations, allowing me to share my knowledge with clients so they know what to do. My other positions within our team from when I started in 2010 as HR Assistant have also exposed me to the good, bad, and ugly of how companies operate. I have seen DOL audits with a result of over $1 million in back wages paid to harassment claims, but also thriving small to mid-sized businesses who look to us as a partner in their future success. I have heard, “We have done this for 10 years,” several times recently from people who think that just because it has been part of their operations that it is right. I can tell you from experience, it is not right just because it is been done that way in the past – they have just been lucky it has not caused an issue. But that’s why we do what we do. That is why we partner with companies, identify major issues relating to safety, workers’ compensation, HR, benefits, and payroll, then get them on the right track for future success.
1B. What (if any) additional knowledge or skills that you don’t currently have would make you even better at your job?
Overall, I think everyone should constantly be working to improve their knowledge and skills – there’s always room to grow. In my position, the main skill I need to continually improve is my ability to work with all sorts of personality types. It’s my job to effectively communicate and gain the trust of my clients. Some business owners want nothing to do with payroll, benefits, or HR. They just want Sheakley to take care of it. Some of my clients are new to the PEO relationship and need a lot of attention and education to work best with us. A PEO is Professional Employer Organization, and in this service model, our client employees are actually filed under our Federal ID. Because of this, we are much more engaged and visible to employees than just a payroll processing company or HR support line service would be. So I need to be a resource for the owner, as well as the front line employees, and everyone in between.
2. Some jobs require the incumbent to be very analytical. Others require one to be a strong communicator, and others still require traits like patience, the ability to multitask, self-directedness, comfort with ambiguity, and exceptional attention to detail. Are there any behaviors and/or attributes that you would say are essential to performing the work that you do?
The ability to multitask and strong communication skills are very important in our world. We have a constant inflow of client/employee questions, projects, new client implementations, weekly payroll requirements, and benefit issues, all of which much be addressed timely. To best serve our clients, our team has four work groups. We interact daily with each other and our clients, so my ability to communicate both internally and externally, and keep everyone updated, is vital to allowing us to provide a high level of service and support to our clients. I serve more than 45 clients and it is common to hear from someone 30 times or more in a week. In my position, you need to have a sense of urgency and be available to your contacts so they can reach you. Some client are not local, as our clients are spread out across the country, so effective communication skills are what allows us to help them feel comfortable with us, to trust us, and meet their expectations. Since we are not in their office every day, being available and responsive via phone or email is critical to ensure they know they are important and that we can deliver what they need.
3. Jobs guru Lou Adler says there are only 4 job types of jobs in the world (producers, improvers, builders, and thinkers). Which type of job are you in?
If I had to choose, one, I would say I am an improver. However, the role of HR Consultant on our team is really a hybrid of thinkers, builders, and improvers. We constantly have to use creative and strategic skills to think how a change or communication can be effective for our clients, present our client with our recommendations and their options, then allow our clients to make the final business decisions and maintain the day-to-day operations at their work site. We give them the HR and payroll knowledge they need to navigate any situation, with our guidance. The entire employee life cycle can create challenges, and that is why our clients rely on us.
We are builders in that we enable our client companies to build their business by taking care of their most critical asset – their employees. We maintain their current employees, help find new employees, and help replace those employees that may not be performing as needed. Some clients I have worked with over the last few years have grown with from less than 50 employees to approximately 75 and growing. It is very exciting to see companies thrive and stay on track with their overall vision and mission.
Ultimately, what we do improves how our client companies attract, manage, protect, and reward their employees. We are always looking for ways to make improvements to our internal/external processes as well, to eliminate errors, issues, and confusion, allowing us to develop as a successful service model. We had less than 10 employees in 2010 when I came on board, now in June of 2014 we have more than 30 people that make up our four work groups. Our clients look to us more than ever with certain healthcare reporting requirements, employer mandates based on client size, and the ability to avoid penalties. We’ll continue to improve what we do for them, and we’ll continue to help our clients improve so they can grow to their full potential.
4. Does your job involve either directly or indirectly supervising or managing people? If so, how many direct (or indirect) reports do you have?
This is an interesting question. For my clients, you could say that I am an indirect manager and supervisor. However, you will never see that on an organization chart. My clients do not report to me, but it is my job to direct them as a supervisor would and ensure they are prepared to handle worksite employee challenges. To do this, I do a lot of training for supervisors on how to handle certain employee related situations. Internally, I work on a team of other HR Consultants that are supported by HR Administrators who effectively work with us to process client requests, which includes the day to day administration of new hires, benefits, and employee termination letters. They are managed by our HR Operations Manager who oversees the HR and payroll team members that make up our Client Delivery and Management Team.
5. How does what you do impact the business? Think complexity (different types of impacts) and scale (degree of impact). Put another way: Who and what would be impacted if your job wasn’t being done well, and why would it matter that they were impacted?
We take on the complexities of HR, benefits, and payroll responsibilities for clients so they can focus on their business. Employees are critical to a company’s ability to exist and grow. However, having employees is a liability and challenge because employment regulations are constantly increasing in volume and complexity. One of our main goals is compliance and keeping up with regulations depending on the company size and specific state requirements. When not done correctly, the fines and penalties can actually put companies out of business. PEOs like Sheakley continue to grow in popularity because we provide a cost-effective approach to HR. What we do is proven to go beyond the benefit of securing companies from compliance penalties and increase profitability. Increasing profits is something all business owners are looking to do.
6. Is your job safe? Rate its safety on a scale of 1-10 with 1 being “seated all day in an air conditioned vault” and 10 being “I’m an astronaut going into space”. If your job isn’t safe, what working conditions (specifically) make it hazardous?
2- We are in a great building that is a very inviting and professional environment from the moment you walk in our lobby. I do have some travel associated with my job, so being out on the road, or touring client facilities can sometimes present hazards.
7. Is there anything I missed that people should know about your job? Is there anything else you want to say about what you do?
I love my job, it is never boring, and our great team is positioned to expand and evolve with our growing client base. We continue to retain a large percentage of our current clients through outstanding service and support. I really enjoy working with many personality types both internally and externally; some clients are great business owners while others are challenging, but all want to focus on what matters most… which is growing their business. We take pride that we are able to assist companies with their challenges to stay compliant, while being able to retain their top talent.
At Sheakley, we believe in the limitless potential of people—those within our company, as well as those within the companies we serve—and our reputation for reliable excellence is the direct result of the quality of the people with whom we work. Our goal is to be the most respected provider of human resources and risk management solutions. The next few years will be very exciting here and I am fortunate to have this opportunity!
As always, please share your thoughts in the comments section below.