Setting a Talent Acquisition and Talent Retention Strategy

How ready are you to attract new employees to your organization or better yet retain your employees?

Talent is key to the success of any organization. Talent Acquisition is an ongoing strategy that focuses on long-term human resources planning.

2018 is off to a great start – for job seekers that is! U.S. employers added 200,000 new jobs in January according to a new government report. In addition to lowered unemployment rates creating a smaller pool of active candidates, wages are expected to increase after several years of post-recession stagnation which in turn could lead to an increase in passive candidates jumping ship for higher wages. Are you ready to compete?

In this first in a series of blogs we will explore key steps to developing a more effective talent acquisition and talent retention strategy.

  • Branding  – If you don’t already have an attractive career website, build one! Use your site to promote what makes you special. Convey this message through all your marketing materials and social media channels to create an image of what it’s like to work for your company – this will attract candidates who are a better fit leading to shorter hiring times and greater retention.
  • Employee Referrals – Employee referrals are a great source for candidates and every employee should be a recruiter for the company. Offer a meaningful  incentive for referrals to make it worth their time.
  • Compensation – be competitive and transparent about what you have to offer. Being transparent about your total rewards and compensation package early on means less time spent on candidates that may ultimately decline your offer. Focus on what makes your company special, it could be the benefits including flexibility, free snacks or an eco-friendly workspace.
  • Be flexible with schedules and needs – the gig economy is booming and its estimated that about 34% of the current workforce are engaged in some form of gig or part-time work. Consider hiring part time workers to fill your needs and embrace flexibility.
  • Networking – develop relationships with potential new hires even before they become candidates – it all comes back to branding! Create effective networks where candidates can learn about your company and how they can make a difference.

BlueFire HR can develop custom Talent Acquisition programs and strategies designed to meet your business needs. Reach out today and see how we can help! For more information, please contact us at, 773-793-1362 or at 888-892-9597.



Announcing BlueFire HR’s NEW Employee Outplacement Services

by Aisling Byrne, Senior HR Consultant

BlueFire HR is pleased to announce that we are now offering Outplacement services for our clients.

Many companies are faced with making employee cuts, downsizing or outsourcing an internal function. Outplacement can provide employees with specialized career support to assist in moving to new employment smoother and faster.

Employees affected by layoffs or downsizing can feel abandoned or lost in the process and are unsure of what to do next. Outplacement services can be a lifeline extended to employees to guide them through finding a new position. BlueFire HR is here to help you with transition planning and implementation and we offer these services for affected employees:

  • Resume and cover letter development and writing
  • Career assessments and coaching
  • Interview scheduling and preparation
  • Professional networking and community help
  • Career guidance sessions and coaching
  • Matching skills with area employers
  • Access to career-retraining and education
  • Employee benefit information and support.

For more information, please contact us at, 773-793-1362 or at 888-892-9597.

Anti-Harassment Training

BlueFire HR is now offering Train-the-Trainer classes on Anti-Harassment Training.

This offering includes:

  • Manager Training with skills practices (60 minutes)
  • Staff Training with skills practices (60 minutes)
  • A train-the-trainer session on how to conduct these sessions
  • On Call HR Mentor to talk to for up to one year
  • Ability to brand your sessions the way you want
  • All materials are yours to keep and use year over year.

BlueFire HR can help! From investigations, trainings, and/or a confidential hotline. We want you to be doing everything you can to create a respectful workplace.

Sign-up for BlueFire HR’s Monthly Membership and get a confidential employee hotline included.

For more information, please contact us at, 773-793-1362 or at 888-892-9597.

Anti-Harassment training is no longer an afterthought – it’s become an absolute must do!

By, Aisling Byrne, Senior HR Consultant at BlueFire HR

Claims of sexual harassment or sexual misconduct in the workplace can be found in every industry including small and large corporations in law, education, non-profits and the financial sector. Never happened at your company? Don’t assume it’s not happening just because someone hasn’t complained (yet)!

Failing to prevent an issue—or overlooking or ignoring an existing problem—can have serious consequences. If the victim files a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) the company will be the subject of an investigation and a possible lawsuit by the EEOC on behalf of the victim.

How you handle a complaint—or even a whisper—of sexual harassment can have a significant impact by sending a message that unacceptable behavior is in fact acceptable.

Here are best practices and next steps to follow:

Develop, implement and practice a good anti-harassment policy. If you don’t have a policy, get one. If you have one, make sure your employees know about it. Include examples of unacceptable conduct and the consequences.

Train and educate your employees. Provide all of your employees with harassment training (not just managers) and ensure they are aware of what constitutes harassment and what options they have available to them.

Provide more than one option to file a complaint. Companies should have two or more unrelated ways that employees can complain about harassment, discrimination or retaliation. For example, if your policy states to go to your manager but that person is the harasser, your policy is ineffective. Make a confidential hotline available to your employees.

Investigate the conduct. Even if you do not have an official complaint, but merely whisperings in the office—or outside the office at an event or on social media—do not hesitate to properly investigate.

Take action if needed. Even if the person is one of your best performers or in the C-suite, sexual harassment is unacceptable regardless of the harasser.

Be preventive and proactive now not after a complaint is made. The costs of dealing with sexual harassment – such as litigation, destroyed reputation, loss of customers, clients or investors, inability to attract and retain talent, loss of competitive advantage and sustainability or a decline in morale – is far greater than making the investment in your culture.

BlueFire HR can help! From investigations, trainings, and/or a confidential hotline. We want you to be doing everything you can to create a respectful workplace.

Sign-up for BlueFire HR’s Monthly Membership and get a confidential employee hotline included.

BlueFire HR is now offering Train-the-Trainer classes on Anti-Harassment Training.

This offering includes:

  • Manager Training with skills practices (60 minutes)
  • Staff Training with skills practices (60 minutes)
  • A train-the-trainer session on how to conduct these sessions
  • On Call HR Mentor to talk to for up to one year
  • Ability to brand your sessions the way you want
  • All materials are yours to keep and use year over year.

For more information, please contact us at, 773-793-1362 or at 888-892-9597.

California Regulatory Updates for 2018 – Don’t get caught unaware!!

Governor Brown recently signed into law six new statutory obligations that take effect on January 1, 2018. Several new regulations require action in updating your job application, new hire materials, leave of absence policies and your Employee Handbook. Contact us – BlueFire HR is here to help you check this off your Holiday To-Do List today!

Ban on Salary Inquiries

Employers can no longer ask job applicants about their current or prior earnings. Employers must also provide the pay scale for a position upon an applicant’s request.

Parental Leave for Small Employers  The California Family Rights Act (“CFRA”)  provides 12 weeks of child bonding parental leave to employees at companies with 50 or more employees. However, California Senate Bill 63 (, the “New Parent Leave Act,” extends CFRA rights to employees at small businesses working at locations with at least 20 employees within a 75 mile radius within the first year following a child’s birth, adoption or placement into foster care.

“Ban The Box”-Conviction History of Applicants

Employers with at least five employees won’t be allowed to consider a job applicant’s criminal history until a conditional employment offer is made. If an employer denies employment based on an applicant’s criminal history, the employer must follow certain steps before making a final decision.

Harassment Training on Gender Identity, Expression & Sexual Orientation

This regulation requires gender identity and sexual orientation harassment training. Sexual harassment training is already required for employers with 50 or more employees. That must soon include training on gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation harassment. Employers will also need to post a transgender rights notice in the workplace.

Immigration Worker Protection Act (AB 450)

Employers will be required to demand warrants and subpoenas from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents before any enforcement activities and will need to provide certain notices to employees and their union representatives.

Expansion of the Labor Commissioner’s Authority For Retaliation Claims

The new regulation will provide the California Labor Commissioner greater authority to investigate and assure compliance with anti-retaliation laws.

For assistance on all these matters and to ensure your training and employee handbooks meet standards contact BlueFire HR today at


Aisling Byrne

Senior HR Consultant

BlueFire HR

Harassment Investigations and Training – Are they a priority?

Clearly Workplace Harassment and Bullying is a hot topic right now, but are you doing everything you can to aid your employees to creating a respectful workplace? Do you have investigation protocol or simply a third party investigator to call to assist you? Do your employees know who to turn to when they are put in an uncomfortable situation? Do they trust leadership or HR?

BlueFire HR can help from investigations, trainings, and/or employee engagement assessments. We want to make sure you are doing everything you can to create a respectful workplace.

For more information, please contact us at hr@bluefirehr.com773-793-1362 or at 888-892-9597.

Stay Ahead of the Curve: 8 Questions to Ask Employees to Keep Them Engaged

Soliciting feedback from your workforce will keep you in touch with the feelings and perceptions that affect the people who keep your business on track. Just by asking the right feedback questions you’ll be ahead of the curve and able to spot challenges and opportunities for your business more quickly. You’ll also have the foresight needed to adeptly address them.

The quality of your questions is just as important as asking for feedback in the first place. To assist you, we have compiled the best ten employee feedback questions for keeping businesses on track to tackle present and future challenges:

  1. What are your top three goals for the week ahead?

Goals provide a purpose to our daily tasks. This straight-forward question opens the floor to finding out if supervisors and managers are effectively communicating team priorities and organizational purpose. It also provides an opportunity to get employees back on track if an unexpected answer is received, or discover a problem you may have been unaware of.

  1. How do you impact the people around you?

This question invites people to strengthen their self-awareness. By being aware of their impact on colleagues and the reactions they elicit from co-workers they will be more able to improve their behavior. Change begins with awareness.

  1. Which work-related issue keeps you up at night?

This can be a difficult question to ask and answer, but it will help you keep in touch with your employee’s feelings of job security and working relationships. If employees are worried to the extent of losing sleep over feelings of job insecurity, poor working relationships, or difficult processes, you need to know about it so that these can be resolved. Sometimes, the health of your business and employees rests on the solution.

  1. How can we make your meetings more productive?

Efficiency of time and actions, or a lack of, impacts your bottom line. Meetings can be a drain on employee productivity and drive. Meetings without structure, too many agenda items, or little relevance for attendees served to diminish motivation rather than build engagement. Asking how to make meetings more efficient will help you unlock better employee engagement and performance.

  1. Are you valued for your efforts? How?

Only 21% of employees feel strongly valued at work. To perform at our best we need to feel recognized and valued for the job we do. By asking this question about employee recognition, staff members are able to share their wins and let you know the ways of being recognized that matter to them most. While a shout-out at a team meeting may work for one employee, another may prefer a personal email from their supervisor.

  1. How can we support your personal goals?

Not all of our goals are work-related. Offering support for employee’s goals outside of the office shows that you are aware there is more to their life than working for your company, and that you care about them. They will in turn repay you with additional effort at work and increased loyalty.

  1. Do you believe you can reach your full potential here? Why?

We all desire to grow and develop our skills to reach our full potential. This question helps you to explore how your workforce feels about their opportunities for career progression and personal development. It will also help you to spot areas for expansion that employees may wish to move into.

   8. On a scale of 1 – 5, where are your personal energy levels and what would it take to push them up a notch?

Healthy and energetic people get more done in less time. Plus, they are happier and nicer to be around. Asking this increases awareness of energy levels, how they impact work, and what needs to be done to increase them.

With all of these questions, it is wise to follow up in a couple of weeks to let your teams know that they weren’t asked or answered in vain. While not every suggestion and comment needs to be acted upon, it is important to show that each answer is valued. Questions help you stay ahead of the leadership curve. They keep morale high and allow you to provide the necessary support to keep everyone motivated and engaged.
Rae Steinbach, freelance editor at 15Five , is a graduate of Tufts University with a combined International Relations and Chinese degree. After spending time living and working abroad in China, she returned to NYC to pursue her career and continue curating quality content. Rae is passionate about travel, food, and writing, of course.

Effective Onboarding – Focus on the Experience

What makes for effective employee onboarding? Onboarding is a prime opportunity for employers to win over new employees yet many employers overwhelm new hires with a bundle of forms and policies to sign instead of using this time to create a strong bond. It’s about the experience not the paperwork!

Effective onboarding practices are critical to setting up new employees for success and are an extension of the recruitment and selection process. Most companies spend significant resources on recruiting that perfect candidate and minimal time on how to convert that perfect candidate into a successful and engaged employee.

Onboarding is the bridge between finding exceptional talent and keeping it. Designing an onboarding process or program that drives retention and performance is the first step in a journey that can take weeks and sometimes even months. Focus on the experience.

A successful onboarding program consists of several steps:

Pre- Arrival – ensuring the new hire has all the basics to get started – computer, phone, office supplies or a welcome gift such as a company t-shirt or branded products.

First Two Weeks – get the new hire acclimated to the organization, explain the main responsibilities, the performance expectations and how their role fits in within the company. Coordinate a lunch with other team members so the new hire can see how their career goals fit in with the company’s vision.

First 45 Days – training; ensure your new hire is empowered with the training and tools they need to be successful. While it’s important to get your new hire ramped up quickly, it can be a lot to take in so make sure it’s in easy to manage chunks. Assigning a mentor can make it easier!

First 6 Months to 1 Year– focus on culture and connection; goal-setting; invest in career development. Recognition and rewards show employees that their work is valued; employee recognition is one of the biggest factors in motivating and retaining people.

BlueFire HR can develop custom Onboarding programs designed to meet your business needs. Reach out today and see how we can help!

The New I-9 Is Here

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The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has published the newest version of the Form I-9. The form, used to verify employment eligibility, will be mandatory beginning September 18, 2017. This new form has a revision date of 07/17/17 N which is shown at the bottom of each page on the form.
The current storage and retention rules have not changed. The new version has made some minor changes to the form’s instructions and list of acceptable documents. The new version also renumbers all List C documents except the Social Security card, and streamlines the certification process for certain foreign nationals.
Click here for the new Form I-9 with updated Instructions. If you have questions or concerns about I-9 Compliance reach out to BlueFire HR.

The Final Step: Negotiating Your Salary


You may have interviewed with numerous people at the firm and are confident this is the right fit for you.  And you are certain that they feel the same way.  Next comes the offer.  When the offer for this promising new position is presented you should remember that salary negotiation is a two-sided process.    Very few people actually enjoy the salary negotiation process but still expect to negotiate; come prepared.

You must research the salary for the position before the offer is made; know the range ahead of time.  There are many online resources you can look to, or simply ask during the initial phone screen.  Ask about the compensation range before the recruiter asks you what salary you are looking for, you don’t want to sell yourself short. AND you don’t want to waste your time if the compensation is significantly less than what you consider acceptable.  When a firm is determining compensation, remember that your past work experience isn’t the only detail that matters; the size of the company and the location of the firm are also factors in establishing salary.  All will play a part as the offered salary is determined.  If the salary presented is not within the range you were expecting, take this time to outline the data you have acquired and ask if the salary could be reconsidered.

For several reasons, a firm may not have a lot of negotiating room where the salary is concerned.  If the final salary figure is still not what you have been seeking, benefits may be a way to enhance your final package.

The first option is a signing bonus.  While this will not increase your salary, it will provide you with a one-time cash payment.  These are frequently offered to candidates being considered for hard-to-fill positions.  If you are asking for a hiring bonus you should provide details showing the gap between the offer being made and market pay.

Another negotiating tool is requesting an early review.  Asking to have your first review after only six (6) months of employment rather than a full year shows the employer you plan to demonstrate your value immediately.   Try to agree on specific, measurable goals that would lead to an increase in your salary; getting it in writing is ideal.  Also, within your first week try to nail down 3-5 objectives you’d like to accomplish within the first six (6) months of employment.

Sometimes additional benefits can help to make up for the lower salary.  Other benefits that could be discussed include extra vacation days or paid time-off.  Are they offering the same vacation time as your current position? Are relocation costs an issue?  Would a flexible work-schedule be an option?  Would they consider allowing you to work from home one or more days per week? Or work four 10-hour days?  These benefits may allow you to improve your quality of life even though the salary isn’t exactly what you were looking for.

It cannot be stressed enough that you arrive prepared to back up all of your requests with data.  You are at the finish line here: you like this firm and the firm likes you.  The salary negotiation process is the last step prior to employment; it should be a positive conversation for both sides.  You may find it helpful to practice your talking points with a good friend or a career coach, like BlueFire HR.

BlueFire HR offers Executive and Career Coaching and can assist you as you prepare to negotiate your best possible compensation package.  You can contact us at or call us at 888.892.9597.