December 2007

In This Edition

By Anthony Dix, PHR,
GMA SHRM President

Board Member Profile

Arbitration and Mediation - Do You Know What They Are?
- By David R. Friedman, Friedman Law Firm

Health and Welfare Benefit Issues for Business Owners

- By Adam P. Jensen, JD, CEBS, FLMI, Virchow Krause Employee Benefits, LLC

Is Alcohol Affecting Your Company's Bottom Line?

Rediscovering the Lost Art of Verbal Conversation and Decreasing Your Legal Liability
This is an edited version of material extracted from a paper written by Robert E. Gregg – Boardman Law Firm

SHRM Leadership Conference Recap

Workforce Readiness
Excerpts from an article by Janet Simon SPHR

- January 2008 Program Note

- Cell Phones and Other Items to Donate to DAIS

- Still Looking for a Charitable Project for the Holidays?

- GMA SHRM Practitioners Wanted

- What's Cool in HR in the Greater Madison Area

- Welcome New Members

- In Transition

- Movin' Up

Click here to see the full GMA SHRM Event Calendar.

- December 12th - Special Event
Wake Me Up When the Data Is Over: Using Stories to Drive Results
With Special Guest Presenter: Lori Silverman
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
This Program Sponsored by: GMA SHRM Gold Partner - Melli, Walker, Pease & Ruhly, S.C.

- January 15th - GMA SHRM Summit
Panel Discussion on the Multi-Generational Workplace

- World at Work, Certification Course and Exam
T1: Total Rewards Management
March 25-27, 2008


Printable version


































Anthony Dix, PHR
2007 Corporate Partners

American Family Insurance
Lee Hecht Harrison
Melli, Walker, Pease & Ruhly, S.C.
Right Management

Fidelitec, LLC
Klaas Financial

Higgins Hemb Insurance Group
Neider & Boucher, S.C.
Payroll Data Services
Physicians Plus Insurance Corporation
Stark Company Realtors
UW-Madison Executive Education
Winterthur North America / General Casualty

Thank you!


In my August, 2007 President’s Message, I highlighted three areas that the GMA SHRM Board decided to focus on as a result of our strategic planning session last summer. One of those initiatives involved reviewing the programming offered to the membership. As many of you indicated in the membership survey, GMA SHRM should continue to offer high-quality programming. This includes a better definition of the programming options available and the need to educate members of the differences associated with Chapter Meetings, Wednesday’s in the Park (WIPs), Professional Emphasis Groups (PEGS) and other programming offerings.

I am very excited to announce some changes GMA SHRM is ready to implement beginning January 1, 2008:

  • Changes to Chapter Meetings :
    • Name change to “GMA SHRM Summit”
    • Every effort has been made to centralize the location ( Alliant Energy Center)
    • 5 events per year, which alternate with My HR Toolbox sessions (see below)
    • Target Audience is broad with a focus on topics that are strategic in nature (i.e. effective communication for managers, leadership development, succession planning, legal updates, retaining employees or other core HR competencies)
    • Format of the program includes speaker and/or panel discussion, workshop and/or keynote speaker including breakfast.
    • Programs will be a minimum of 2 hours, maximum of 3 hours in length
  • Changes to Wednesdays in the Park (WIP) :
    • Name changed to “My GMA SHRM Toolbox”
    • NEW LOCATION: City Center West, 515 Junction Road , Madison, WI 53717 . Click here to view the conference room at City Center West.
    • 5 events per year, which alternate with GMA SHRM Summits
    • Target Audience includes HR professionals at all levels
    • Format of the program will be a facilitated discussion around a predetermined topic in a roundtable/open discussion format
    • Programs will be a maximum of two hours in length
    • This will continue to be offered free to all members, however there will be a $20 charge for non-members
  • Changes to Professional Emphasis Groups (PEG's) :
    • Name changed to “Small HR Resource Groups”
    • Location: determined by committee group leader
    • 4 events per year (offered on Fridays)
    • Target Audience is focused to include HR professionals at all levels, however specifically targeting HR Specialists (i.e. Benefits, Compensation, etc.) and catering to those that support smaller organizations and have small HR departments
    • Format of the program will be a panel discussion or speaker
    • Remains a free benefit

Overall, I am confident that this will allow the programming committee to focus their planning efforts, which in turn allows GMA SHRM to continue offering high-quality programming. Please take a moment to view the 2008 Calendar of Events and add these programs and events to your calendar. If you have not attended an event recently, I encourage you to utilize these important benefits. Attending the programming events offers an opportunity for you to gather information on various topics and network with other HR professionals!

I would like to thank those of you who participated in our membership survey last fall. Our programs are developed using your feedback, which directly resulted in many of the changes you are seeing become reality in 2008. We pride ourselves in offering the most valuable programming possible and want to hear from you! If you have any questions or feedback regarding the changes to our programming structure, topics or speakers please feel free to contact me or Vice President, Programming, Kari Lauritsen.

Lastly, I wanted to encourage all of you to attend our December programming event: Wake Me Up When the Data Is Over: Using Stories to Drive Results, presented by Lori Silverman. I look forward to seeing you on Wednesday, December 12th.

Happy Holidays!

Anthony Dix, PHR, MBA
GMA SHRM Chapter President

GMA SHRM Board Member Profile - Sue Estes, GMA SHRM Immediate Past President

Sue Estes

What is your current work job title? Manager of Business Development


What is the focus of this position? Staffing consultant to HR professionals and business executives


What is your current GMA SHRM volunteer position job title? Immediate Past President


What inspired you to become a GMA SHRM volunteer? The opportunity to give back to a great organization and have the opportunity to get to know other HR professionals by working together as volunteers. I initially worked with Laura Jaggi on the Membership Committee and got more involved from there, serving as Co-Chair of the Membership Committee, then on the Board as VP Membership, President Elect, and President.

What are the primary responsibilities of this position and what are your goals within this role? As the Immediate Past President I provide support to the Board President, sharing my experience from my role as President last year. Our work on new initiatives for philanthropic work with community non-profit organizations will be part of my responsibility this year as will be building awareness and promoting the SHRM Foundation. In addition, I will be involved in connecting with the senior HR professionals in our chapter.

How long have you been in the Human Resource field? I have over 20 years experience in business management, consulting, & training.

Please share some of your employment experience. Currently I work for Celerity Staffing Solutions in Middleton. Previously I was employed in the San Francisco Bay Area as a Regional Training Director, Area Manager, and Administrative Manager for companies such as Pacific Bell Telephone (SBC), Pitney Bowes, Senzar Training Services, and Brook Furniture. My first career out of college was as a high school teacher.

Please share your educational background (including any certifications, designations, or other titles)? Bachelor of Science degree from Ball State University, Muncie, IN and additional credits earned towards my Masters of Science degree at Indiana/Purdue University in Indianapolis.

If you could choose any job in the world, what would it be and why? I love what I do now! I have the opportunity to work with people in a variety of industries. I love relationship building and finding solutions for my clients’ recruiting and staffing challenges. Plus, it’s great to work with my talented team members who really care about our clients and associates. If I weren’t doing this I would have loved to be a motivational speaker!

If you would like to share information about your personal life (i.e., family, hobbies/interests, and other volunteer activities) please do so. I have been married for 20 years to my husband and have 2 teenagers (a son in college and a daughter in high school) as well as a 5 month old West Highland Terrier. I enjoy walking my puppy, attending my daughter’s lacrosse games, and spending time with my family. I’ve served on the Board of Directors for another professional organization and also volunteer with my church.

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Arbitration and Mediation - Do You Know What They Are?
David R. Friedman, Friedman Law Firm

Arbitration and mediation are alternative procedures for resolving employment, contractual or commercial disputes. State law encourages courts to order parties to use alternative dispute resolution procedures. The Equal Employment Opportunities Commission and State Equal Rights Division also offer mediation as a way to resolve employment discrimination matters. This November’s HR Magazine has an article on mediation and the EEOC.

It is common to find arbitration clauses in collective bargaining agreements, commercial contracts, and with increasing frequency, in individual employment contracts. Binding arbitration is a voluntary procedure where, after a hearing, a neutral third party renders a legally binding decision which resolves the dispute.

In most situations it is up to the parties to determine the scope and procedures of the process. Among other things, there needs to be a method of determining who will be the arbitrator. Many collective bargaining agreements in Wisconsin use the services of the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission to assist in the selection of the arbitrator. Commercial contracts frequently use the American Arbitration Association to help parties.

Arbitration is designed to provide a quicker and cheaper alternative to litigation. It is also assumed that the parties will use an arbitrator who is familiar with the type of dispute. For example, if a collective bargaining agreement required just cause for discharge, the arbitrator frequently will be familiar with how that term is applied in that particular industry.

Because the arbitration process is created by the parties, the law in Wisconsin gives deference to the parties and limits the ability of a court to review the arbitrator’s decision. In fact an appellate court has a greater ability to review a circuit court decision than it does the arbitrator’s award. For that, and other reasons, the parties need to know what they are doing before drafting or agreeing to an arbitration clause.

Mediation is a purely voluntary process. No person will impose a decision on the participants. Any resolution must be mutually agreed upon by the participants. Mediation is unique in that it allows the participants to decide for themselves the solution.

There is no statutory structure for mediation. Generally the mediator sets the ground rules for how the process will operate. Like the arbitration process, the parties have to pick a mediator. For example, the Dane County Bar Association has a mediation service where lawyers volunteer their time to act as mediators either upon request of the parties or by court order.

A mediator’s job is to help the parties resolve their differences. A good mediator helps facilitate the communication of ideas between the parties, helps clear up misunderstandings, makes suggestions and cajoles, and some say pressures the participants to resolve the matter. The methods and techniques vary with each mediator, but the basic purpose is always the same.

In order for mediation to be effective, the participants need to be actively involved. The process allows the participants, as well as their representatives, to voice their concerns and be part of formulating the ultimate resolution. The resolution should be more acceptable to the participants because they helped determine the outcome instead of having an imposed decision.

As litigation becomes more time consuming and expensive, you will notice an increase in alternative dispute resolution methods of which arbitration and mediation are among the most common and widely used.

The opinions expressed or implied are those of the author and may not represent the official position of GMASHRM. This article is intended for general information purposes and highlights developments in the legal area. This article does not constitute legal advice. The reader should consult legal counsel to determine how this information applies to any specific situation.

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Health and Welfare Benefit Issues for Business Owners
- By Adam P. Jensen, JD, CEBS, FLMI, Virchow Krause Employee Benefits, LLC

Business owners face a multitude of challenges. In addition to taking care of the needs of their business and employees, they must also look after themselves. Different health and welfare benefit rules may apply to them as business owners than apply to the employees working for them. While retirement plan benefits make similar differentiations, our focus here will be on health and welfare benefits.

Corporate Entity Issues

The selection of corporate entity can have a great effect on a business owner’s health and welfare benefits. Owners may choose from a number of options for the form of corporate entity: sole proprietorship, partnership, C-corporation, and S-corporation. Each form of corporate entity has its own particular advantages and disadvantages. Many business owners do not realize that sole proprietors, partners in a partnership (including limited liability companies- “LLCs”, and limited liability partnerships- “LLPs”), and 2% S-corporation shareholders are considered to be self-employed, even if they perform services for their company and receive wages. C-corporation owners can be a bona fide employee of the corporation. The distinction between employee and self-employed is extremely important because the Internal Revenue Code (“IRC”) sections dealing with health and welfare benefits favor “employees” over persons who are self-employed.

The Importance of Being an Employee

Amounts received under “accident and health plans” are excluded from the gross wages of employees under IRC section 105. Unfortunately, self-employed persons cannot be considered employees under IRC section 105(g). This means business owners cannot participate in a Health Reimbursement Arrangement (“HRA”) under IRC section 105. With consumer-driven health plans (“CDHPs”), this places sole proprietors, partners, and S-corporation owners at a disadvantage, compared to C-corporation owners.

Under IRC section 106(a) employees’ gross income does not include employer-provided coverage under an accident or health plan. Employer premium contributions made on behalf of “employees” are not included in employee’s gross income. Non-employee owners cannot exclude employer premium contributions from their gross income. However, Revenue Ruling 91-26 permits partners and 2% S-corporation owners to deduct 100% of the cost of the premiums when filing their taxes.

IRC section 125 cafeteria plans are also affected by whether or not an owner can be considered to be an employee. Regulation section 1.125-1(g)(2) excludes self-employed individual or a 2% shareholder of an S-corporation from participating in a cafeteria plan, including the Premium Only Plan (”POP”) used to facilitate pre-tax premium deductions, the medical flexible spending arrangement (FSA), dependent care FSA, or even adoption assistance FSA.

Constructive Ownership of Stock

Stock ownership of S-corporations is imputed to other family members under IRC section 318(a). The grandparents, parents, spouse, and children of 2% S-corporation owners are considered to constructively own the corporation stock. Any of these persons who also work for the S-corporation is treated the same as the 2% owner for health and welfare benefit purposes. The attribution of stock ownership also takes place if the stock is held in a trust. The family members of a 2% S-corporation owner are considered to be self-employed individuals for the purposes of IRC sections 105, 106, and 125. The affected family members cannot participate in an HRA, nor can they exclude employer health and welfare plan premium contributions from their gross income. They are not permitted to deduct their health and welfare premiums on a pre-tax basis, nor can they participate in the S-corporation’s medical FSA, dependent care FSA, or adoption assistance FSA.

Self-funded Plan Issues

Owners whose businesses sponsor self-funded health and welfare plans may also face additional discrimination issues under IRC section 105(h). Self-funded health and welfare plans that may be affected include: medical/Rx, dental, vision, or a medical FSA. Section 105(h) states that self-funded medical reimbursement plans, which would include all of the above, may not discriminate in favor of highly compensated individuals. All benefits provided for participants who are highly compensated individuals must also be provided for all other participants as well. Section 318(a) defines highly compensated individual broadly enough to encompass most owners and affects both C-corporation owners as well as non-employee business owners of S-corporations. Failure to meet the nondiscrimination standards can result in self-funded plan benefits becoming taxable to the highly compensated individual to the extent they do not pass testing. Proper benefit plan design and contribution structure, coupled with testing, can help owners manage their self-funded health and welfare benefit plan nondiscrimination risk.

Strategies and options

There are strategies to deal with the unique health and welfare benefit plan issues business owners face. Many employers are controlling their medical plan costs by using high deductible health plans (“HDHPs”), and coupling them with HRAs to soften the impact of raising the deductible. The HDHP offers an employer lower medical plan premiums. HRAs are self-funded arrangements that reimburse some or all of the employees’ deductible, yet still may offer a net savings to the employer. This is because it is unlikely that a high percentage of the employees on the plan will actually use some or all of their available HRA reimbursement amount. While non-employee owners cannot participate in the HRA plan that is available to their employees, the owners may participate in a Health Savings Account (“HSA”). Recent changes allow individuals to contribute to HSAs up to $2,850 for persons with individual coverage and $5,650 for family coverage in 2007 (going up to $2,900 and $5,800 respectively for 2008). The advantage to the business owner is that they can fund their HSA to the maximum amount, even if their deductible is lower than the contribution maximum amount. Owners should note that the IRS requires certain minimum deductibles and plan design features be included in the HDHP in order to qualify for an HSA. HRAs do not have these same requirements.

While non-employee owners cannot participate in a medical FSA, they can use a fully insured executive medical reimbursement plan to manage their out-of-pocket healthcare costs. These fully insured products can facilitate reimbursement of medical, dental, prescription drug, and vision expenses for owners and their family members. Because they are not self-funded, they are not subject to IRC section 105(h) discrimination testing and can be offered only to owners and executives if desired.

Business owners, employee and non-employee alike, who sponsor self-funded health and welfare plans have options for dealing with section 105(h) nondiscrimination. One method is setting uniform benefit offerings and contributions for all employees. The other option is to offer different benefits and contributions to the extent permitted and test the plans under section 105(h)(3), adjusting benefits and contributions to remain with the prescribed limits.

No single strategy or option is right for every employer. Choosing the right option for your business should be part of a business plan or strategic benefits plan. Contact your employee benefits or tax advisor for help in determining the right choice for you and your business.

Adam P. Jensen is a Senior Consultant with Virchow Krause Employee Benefits, LLC and has worked in the insurance and employee benefits industry since 1986. Adam specializes in providing regulatory compliance and plan design services for health and welfare plans and qualified retirement plans. He also advises executive clients on non-qualified deferred compensation issues.

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Is Alcohol Affecting Your Company’s $$$ Bottom Line?

The impact of alcohol on businesses today is well documented, with the most recent estimate from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse estimating the total economic cost to be almost $200 billion dollars per year. These costs manifest themselves in reduced productivity, excessive sick day requests, and unaccounted for “lost time” in addition to the immeasurable societal and emotional costs to family, friends, and co-workers.

What isn’t well known is the fact that these productivity losses can be substantially reduced by educating employees about how to use alcohol properly, rather than attempting to enforce a policy of abstinence. An option available to HR professionals are educational programs designed to teach those employees who choose to drink how to drink responsibly and without the resulting negative consequences which often occur from irresponsible alcohol consumption. Alcohol educational programs focus on increasing awareness and knowledge of alcohol through a curriculum based on behavioral skill training and motivational enhancement techniques designed to educate participants, allowing them to establish a healthy relationship with alcohol should they choose to drink. Currently endorsed and being taught at the University of Wisconsin to address underage and “binge” drinking issues among students, alcohol educational programs have also been implemented within the business and corporate sector as part of employee wellness programs and human resources training and development programs.

Alcohol education classes may be structured and designed to meet the specific needs of a business. Held on site or in a “neutral” location, instruction can be presented as a class for all employees, or as a longer class for employees who have experienced negative consequences due to drinking such as absenteeism, accidents on the job, or DUI’s. Alcohol education programs are not for employees who are alcohol dependent. Employees who are alcohol dependent need professional intervention, treatment, and counseling, and must abstain from ALL alcohol usage.

Alcohol education training and certification classes are also available for Human Resources, EAP, and Safety staff in larger companies with multiple offices or a large number of employees.

This article was adapted from an overview provided by Michael Florek, President, Tellurian UCAN, Inc. Tellurian is a 501c(3) Non Profit Human Services Organization providing AODA Treatment, Mental Health Services, Counseling and Housing to more than 8000 people through a compendium of more than 20 Programs and Services. Phone: 608-222-7311, Email:

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Rediscovering the Lost Art of Verbal Conversation and Decreasing Your Legal Liability
This is an edited version of material extracted from a paper written by Robert E. Gregg – Boardman Law Firm

I miss direct, verbal conversation. I miss one-on-one communication in which I can hear the voice inflection; I can hear the laughter, the “spark” in the conversation. I can see or sense the tension or sadness—which does not come across in an email—and I can respond with appropriate inquiry and sympathy. We can discern worlds of nuance and inflection in a verbal conversation, which are denied to us in email. I miss the verbal, personal connections which are rapidly diminishing under a wave of electronic communication.

I am not old-fashioned! I am not technically incompetent! I miss the “good old days” because I am an attorney!

Electronic communication has often become electronic babble. Email indiscretions are instantly spread nationwide. Email creates a permanent record, which verbal conversation does not. The proliferation of electronic conversation is creating a proliferation of liability.

Wise and professional people should be more disciplined in using email, and spend much more time in verbal communication.

People should clearly understand that the electronic system should never be used for pornography, harassment, romantic advances, gossip, slander or wagering; most organizations have policies covering these issues. However, loose use in discussing standard business-related items can be an even bigger problem.

The standard work-related emails may be even more of a problem than the uses prohibited by your organization’s harassment and “improper use” policies .

Business discussions often involve serial emails. Each person comments on the previous ideas, proposals or discussions. String emails have a long life. Each person adds on, and sends it on. The original serious message gets altered with successive readers’ flip comments, sarcasm, speculation, or reactions to the last sender, rather than to the original message. Unfortunately, IT’S ALL EVIDENCE!

Verbal conversation with another person often “checks” our emotional reaction. We may be more polite. We have the ability to clarify misunderstandings to “talk things through” before they escalate. We can talk issues through, rather than engage in short, electronic barbs or blasts.

Email is not just conversation.
Email is a record!

Email is evidence!

The Federal courts have adopted the electronic discovery rules .

If it was not already crystal clear, the courts have made it so; an organization’s “records” can include all electronic information regarding a person or issue. The “personnel file” now includes electronic records and emails. The Electronic Discovery Rules gives the other side’s attorney the ability to get every shred of information on your system which may be related to the lawsuit at hand.

The main evidence in employment cases is becoming electronic.

Preliminary discussions should be verbal .

Problem solving and decision making are not neat processes. Brainstorming, speculation, exchanging differing perspectives, and floating alternative approaches are absolutely necessary. Supervisors should be able to vent frustrations to HR and other managers. Together they should be able to empathize and offer advice or support. Free flowing discussions often lead to good decisions, especially in difficult or complex situations.

Face to face and telephone conversations do not create permanent records. They allow you to “kick around” suppositions, alternatives, frustrations, hypothetical causes, alternative solutions, and “what ifs,” without creating a “record” which then has to be explained, justified, and defended in court.

Beyond the anti-harassment policy .

All organizations should also educate all employees, especially supervisors, in the fundamental email dos and don’ts, as well as the organizational and personal liability which may result.

  • Never have a “blow up” by email.
  • Never engage in an overt disagreement by email.
  • Never hypothesize or speculate about another person’s performance or behavior by email.
  • Do not brainstorm crucial decisions by email.
  • Never discuss your attorney or accountant’s advice with others via email. It can destroy your “privileged communications.”
  • Never be electronically flip or sarcastic about people you supervise or must make decisions about.
  • Do not electronically forward office gossip or inappropriate humor to others

Don’t overreact to this article and cease emailing ! Electronic communication is important, efficient and effective, so use it, but use it carefully.

Emails can be good evidence in your favor, if used correctly . Describing facts, not opinions, is documentation of those facts. Emailing factual concerns about performance or work behaviors to employees is good documentation of fair warning, and a chance to correct. Saving the employee’s improper email will document rule violations and is powerful evidence of the violations. Email is good documentation to prove the dates of complaints, meetings, decisions, discipline, comparative treatment with other employees, and many more factual matters.

THINK before you type ! Is this a communication you want to see again in federal court? Will you be proud of it in front of a jury or on the front page of the newspaper? Does it reflect business ethics and professionalism that you would put on letterhead? Think about talking things through before you commit them to a permanent electronic record!

Bob Gregg , a partner at the Boardman Law Firm in Madison, Wisconsin, has been professionally involved in Employment Relations and Civil Rights work for more than 30 years. He has designed the workplace policies and procedures of numerous employers. He litigates employment cases. A recognized educator and trainer, Bob has conducted over 2,000 seminars throughout the United States and authored numerous articles on practical employment issues.

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On November 15-17, six of the GMA SHRM Board Members and Chapter Administrators attended the SHRM National Leadership Conference inWashington DC. The conference featured a number of keynote and
breakout speakers on topics that pertained to chapter leadership, HR leadership, and the SHRM organization. Here’s what some of the GMA SHRM attendees had to say


Anthony Dix, Chapter President: The 2007 SHRM National Leadership Conference was a great opportunity to network, learn more about SHRM, share best practices with other chapters, and further develop our leadership skills. Some of the highlights included the Capitol Hill Advocacy Day, keynote speaker Simon Bailey (don't forget he is one of our keynote speakers at the GMA SHRM One Day Conference on May 13th) and a brief preview of the new and improved SHRM website.  The Advocacy Day was newly added to the overall conference structure this year.  Nearly 150 volunteer leaders battled wind and rain to meet with Members of Congress to share our views on Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) issues, as well as the need for a reliable legal employment verification system. This was truly a remarkable experience. 

Mike Leibundgut, Director Marketing and Communications: The trip was a great experience for me in a number of ways.

1.    The experience that jumps out most is the visits to both the senate and house buildings.  Although I'm not a very politically inclined person, the experience of being in the buildings, visiting the three offices and meeting with the assistants was educational.  I realized that our government consists of a very large system with many layers.  That getting your ideas, concerns, and issues to these decision makers isn't impossible, merely a test of patience and professionalism.  Overall, this was something I won't forget, it made me feel like a very small fish in a very large pond!

2.    I was impressed with the number of dedicated HR people throughout the country who are dealing with the same issues we are.  HR issues are not isolated to geography, many issues I have, others have.  The willingness to share ideas and thoughts was universal.

3.    How large the SHRM organization actually is.  I didn't realize they have two multi-level buildings and over 400 employees!  I also learned how many members SHRM has...225,000!

4.    I learned that our GMA SHRM organization is in line with many others, and our volunteer team (in my opinion) is among the upper half in talent and dedication.  We do a lot of great things.  I was able to siphon off a few good ideas that could help improve our chapter.

5.    On a personal note, this was my first visit to DC so the buildings monuments and city were all very impressive.  I was in awe a number of times.

6.    The keynote speakers were very good.  The message and inspiration they gave were top notch.  I can take much of what they spoke about and apply it to my job and personal life. 

Christopher Dyer, Chapter Administration: The C.A.S.E. Method – Copy And Steal Everything! - The SHRM Leadership Conference is always an excellent opportunity to learn best practices from other chapters around the country.  Most of the time you don’t need to reinvent the wheel when tackling a new project – chances are there is another chapter out there that has done something similar you can learn from.

What a great keynote presentation by Simon T. Bailey on Releasing Your Brilliance! He is such a dynamic and engaging presenter with a great message.  I am very excited to have him as our keynote presenter at the May 2008 GMA SHRM One Day Conference!


More information on the conference is available at:

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Workforce Readiness

Below are excerpts from a recent article by Janet Simon, SPHR on the importance of HR professionals getting involved with workforce readiness efforts.

On a local level, the GMA SHRM Workforce Readiness Committee is involved with a variety of community organizations that involve youth and adults from very diverse backgrounds. As we begin to face a tighter labor market, qualified employees are becoming harder to find. Many of the job seekers we meet through our volunteer efforts are eager to work, but lack the basic knowledge of what is/is not appropriate in a work environment and how to professionally search for a job. Why not take this great opportunity to teach job candidates about the skills that you as an employer are seeking?

If you are interested in getting involved on the local level, please contact Melissa Perry at or 608-271-6544.

'Why Get Involved in Workforce Readiness?'
By Janet Simon, SPHR

Workforce readiness has two components:

  1. Assisting educational institutions to understand the needs of employers and prepare students for entry into the workplace;
  2. Assisting adults who are joining or rejoining the workforce. The most important message is that HR is directly linked to the workforce of the future through our businesses and that we need to be involved to increase the quality and skills of this future workforce.

We can start by making HR folks aware of the importance of being involved and taking on initiatives in our states and communities.

Why should HR be involved in Workforce Readiness?

  1. There Is a Direct Impact on the Staffing Role of HR
    a) Even in a loose labor market, some employers are struggling to find "qualified" employees.
    b) Education is not meeting the needs of employers. WIA (Workforce Investment Act) and School-to-Work programs have not solved the problems due to limited funding, technological changes, and social issues such as school violence and substance abuse. Currently, only about a quarter of all of educators are using some form of job shadowing, mentoring, internships, cooperative education or apprenticeships. Federal agencies project that 20% of jobs will require a degree and 62% will require training beyond traditional high school material.
    c) Linking businesses and education/worker training programs will insure more qualified workers and reduce re-training costs for the employer. It costs thousands of dollars to re-train less-than-qualified employees.
    d) There are many levels of involvement possible to fit any chapter size and any individual HR professional-from a full-blown career program or involvement in providing financial resources/speakers to sponsoring one student for one shadowing day.
  2. It Improves HR's Image Internally
    a) A proactive approach that aligns business staffing needs with organizations that prepare individuals in the community saves on the bottom line in recruiting costs, lower turnover costs, and lower training costs.
    b) Employees see HR leading efforts to improve community resources.
  3. Recognition of HR in the Local Community Is Enhanced
    a) State and local legislators will recognize HR leading business in investments in the community.
    b) Local schools/training programs will see HR professionals as partners in their work-not as challengers of their results.
    c) Partnering with other local organizations who have established programs gives more visibility to the chapter/state council.
  4. Nationally, the HR Profession Will Be Advanced (ATP)
    a) Federal legislators and agencies will recognize HR professionals as experts in defining business needs.
    b) HR can help U.S. companies respond to global competition for skilled workers.

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January 2008 GMA SHRM Program Note:

GMA SHRM January 2008 HR Summit Meeting will be a panel discussion on the Multi-Generational Work Place including panel speakers from Alliant, American Family, UW Health and more to be announced.

“For the first time in history, today’s workplace spans at least four generations. The Silent Generation is about 95% retired already, while Baby Boomers are delaying their retirement plans. Generation X is climbing the corporate ladder and Generation Y is just entering the workforce. This collision of generations — unless fully understood and properly managed — could create long-term turbulence in the workplace.” According to a paper entltled “Managing Today’s Multi-Generational Work Force” published by Lee Hecht Harrison in April 2007.

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Cell Phones and Other Items to Donate to DAIS  

As we introduced in our November newsletter, this year we will be supporting Domestic Abuse Intervention Services (DAIS). Domestic Abuse Intervention Services, located in Madison offers a 24-hour crisis line, a 25-bed safe house for women and their children, legal advocacy, support groups, information and referrals. DAIS is a 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization. For more information about DAIS, please visit

Cell Phone Donations to DAIS

Do you have an old cell phone that you’re no longer using? Want to support a good cause AND recycle at the same time? We have an easy and painless way to do so! As part of GMA SHRM’s support of DAIS (Domestic Abuse and Intervention Services) we’ll be collecting used cell phones in any condition at our monthly meetings. DAIS is able to take these used cell phones and turn them into much-needed cash for their operations. Look for the collection box at coming meetings!

No Cell Phone to Recycle? Here are other items DAIS needs:

Since women and children often come to the DAIS shelter with only the clothes on their back, they have a critical and regular need for the following items:

New sweat suits (sweat shirt, sweat pants) in women's size M, L, and XL
New women's socks
New kids and women's pajamas or tee shirts in sizes S, M, L, and XL
New bath towels and washcloths

We'll also be collecting these at our chapter meetings beginning in December. Please bring your donation with you to the meeting and do what you can to help!

If you have questions about GMA SHRM’s support of DAIS or would like to make a donation, but can’t make it to the GMA SHRM meeting, please contact Sue Estes, Immediate Past President, at 238-3410 or via email


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Still Looking for a Charitable Project for the Holidays – Don't Forget the DAIS Adopt-A-Family Program

The added pressure of the holidays can be extremely stressful for people who are dealing with issues related to domestic violence. A large percentage of DAIS (Domestic Abuse Intervention Services) clients are low-income. Some of them are still in the relationship and may be so focused on day to day survival that it may be extremely difficult to buy holiday gifts for their children. Others may have recently left but may have had to leave many possessions behind (or the abuser may have destroyed their possessions) so they are basically starting over from scratch.

GMA SHRM is asking you to consider supporting the DAIS Adopt-a-Family Program. To participate all you have to do is contact Karen Larson at DAIS indicating the size of the family you would like to purchase gifts for. She will then send you a wish list that fits the level at which you feel you can participate. Gifts for the Adopt-a-Family Program need to be dropped off by Friday, December 14th.

Contact: Karen Larson, DAIS Children’s Program Coordinator, for more details at (608) 251-1237 ext. 326 or via email

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GMA SHRM Practitioners Wanted!

For an employment law counseling/preventive HR course at UW Law School.

HR practitioners who can speak with students about the types of employment issues they face, when they
require an attorney's help in such matters, and what they expect from the lawyers they use. The guest lecture will be on Thursday, February 13 from 3:30 to 5:30 at the UW Law School. It would be great if a panel
of speakers would come to provide different experiences to the students.


Practitioners who can serve as "clients" during the semester . The course is designed to train students to provide legal services for HR practitioners and organizations. A case study method will be used to provide simulated problems in areas such as FMLA, wage and hour laws, sexual harassment, etc. to present a situation to see how students work through the issues. While I can always devise situations and also provide feedback, it would be even better if an HR practitioner would serve as a client for a topic and be available to listen to proposals and offer their real world perspective and feedback.

Please contact:

Nilesh P. Patel
Mahadev Law Group, LLC
Human Resources & Employment Law Solutions


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What’s Cool in HR in the Greater Madison Area?

What’s going on in HR in your workplace?

Have you…

  • completed a major project,
  • implemented something new,
  • managed a change,

Is there something…

  • your company/dept does really well,
  • interesting about your company culture
  • that makes your company an employer of choice

We want to hear about it! Share it with your HR colleagues in HR InTouch. Send us an e-mail

Welcome New Members

GMA SHRM welcomes the following members who joined our chapter in October 2007.

Brian C. Blahnik, PHR, CBM

Sr. HR Consultant/HR Manager

Kiesling Associates LLC

James J. Chiolino


Quarles & Brady LLP

Mary Jane Grant

HR Generalist

ESurance, Inc.

Angela M. Hildestad

HR Coordinator

Smith & Gesteland LLP

Stacy A. Miller

Registration Services Coordinator

WI Sports Development Corp.

Dianne Mosley

HR Manager

World Council of Credit Unions

Jeremy A. Neary

Corporate Recruiter

JT Packard

Angie M. Peterson

Administrator-Talent Select & Retention


Jake R. Siudzinski

Business Development Director

Stark Company Realtors

Sarah J. Stormer

Hr Administrator

Stoughton Trailers

Cydney L. Van Dyke

Employee Services Specialist

UW Medical Foundation

Scott A. Webb

Account Executive



In Transition

If you are a member who is in between jobs, or who is currently employed but seeking new positions or career paths, write us a brief description of your skill set, areas of expertise, what you’re looking for, etc . . Send us an e-mail. We’ll publish your information in the next HR InTouch.

Movin' Up

Michelle Scheffler, PHR has accepted a new opportunity as HR Director for Roche NimbleGen.   Roche NimbleGen, an international company, is a manufacturer and supplier of a proprietary suite of DNA microarrays, consumables, instruments and services.  She will be responsible for implementing and building the HR practices including recruiting, benefits, compensation, employee relations and training & development.  Her new contact information is

Have you started with a new company? Has your organization recently promoted you to a new position? Or do you want to recognize a new person or promotion within your department? If so, we want to hear about it. Send us an e-mail, and we’ll publish your good news in the next HR InTouch!

HR InTouch Guidelines

Article Writing:

Do you have an interest in writing for the HR InTouch? We have an interest in learning more about your area of expertise!

Why should you volunteer? Top three reasons: 1) to share your knowledge and experiences to educate others; 2) to become more connected in the HR and Dane County communities; and 3) to contribute towards the advancement of GMA SHRM and the HR profession.

The first step is for you to choose a submission option: you can pre-submit an article to GMA SHRM at any time for us to use in any of the upcoming newsletters, you can sign up to write for a particular month, or we can put you on a list of people to contact in future months whenever we need articles.

Article length:

Because the HR InTouch is now in an online format, the size is flexible. The article should be engaging and hold readers’ attention. Include the core information in your article, and we will advise if it is too lengthy.


GMA SHRM is conscious not to allow solicitation through the articles, in an effort to protect the interests of our partners and members. The nature of the article should be educational (i.e., what are the business advantages of having a product like yours) or informational. Otherwise, if you truly are interested in advertising through the HR InTouch, you can work with our Marketing Committee. As a rule of thumb for article writing, if the submission relates to a for-profit event, or specifically markets your company (vs. your industry), it is an advertisement, and should be purchased. If it is a not-for-profit event that your company is hosting, or an announcement (i.e., a SHRM member recently joined your company), it is an acceptable addition to the HR InTouch content. If you have any questions related to the appropriateness of your submission, please contact us.

If you have questions, or to submit an article, contact GMA SHRM at .










Greater Madison Area SHRM, Inc.
2830 Agriculture Dr.
Madison, WI 53718
(608) 204-9814
fax: (608) 204-9818

© 2004; Greater Madison Area SHRM, Inc. All rights reserved.