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“Pay very close attention to a candidate’s behavior & personality. You want to hire someone that you feel comfortable with.”

Labor & Employment Law on Behalf of Business; Human Resources Attorney & Counselor

As a management side labor and employment attorney and human resources (HR) counselor, Charles Krugel has 17-plus years of experience in the field and has been running his own practice for 12-plus years. Charles has worked on both “sides of the fence;” that is, he’s worked for management & as an in-house counsel for a labor union. These experiences have taught him that he’s much more sympathetic to the needs of business rather than 3rd party interveners like government regulators & labor unions.

Charles’ clients are small to medium sized companies in a variety of industries such as options & securities trading, technology, baking & manufacturing. In addition to providing them traditional labor and employment law services, he represents companies desiring to institute preventive and proactive HR functions. These functions include policies & procedures, which help to efficiently and discreetly resolve issues in-house & prevent lawsuits & complaints. They also help to reduce costs & act as catalysts for increasing productivity & profits. For analysis of what clients think of him, please see his “Client Testimonials” web page.

MO: How much did your father owning a chain of pharmacies and your grandfather owning and running his own grocery stores inspire your path of entrepreneurship?

Charles: These greatly influenced me. I worked in some of my dad’s stores & heard stories about my grandfather’s business growing up. So, to an extent, I’ve been “bred” to be an independent businessperson. This independent streak actually runs through a lot of my relatives, on both sides of my family. Many of them have owned their own businesses (distribution, parking lots, textiles, etc.). Being Jewish in Chicago, I grew up hearing stories about anti-Semitism & related issues that my relatives dealt with. Historically, Jews were denied many opportunities, & like other minorities we had to create our own channels for financial success. This has all played into my desire to remain independent & serve smaller businesses.

MO: Can you give us the basics on how macro & micro HR can impact the bottom line of a business?

Charles:  Macro HR is the strategic (big picture) purpose of human capital management in a particular company. It encompasses the understanding of what employees mean to a business. It’s how HR & employees fit into the organization’s structure, mission & planning. Generally, this philosophy is explained in terms of how a company selects, hires, trains, maintains & eventually gets rid of employees (as crass as that might sound, businesses need an exit strategy for every transaction, including those involving people).

Micro HR is the actual execution of the HR functions that are mandated at the macro level. These functions are usually include the administration of policies that implement those functions such as what procedures are taken to hire, train, pay or discharge an employee.

How Macro & Micro HR Impact the Bottom Line

Any business will encounter difficulties when it fails to account for changes to macro & micro HR practices. Such changes include changed labor & employment laws & new government regulations. These difficulties include an unsafe workplace, attendance issues, conflict, misconduct, union organizing campaigns, high turnover & litigation. Simply stated, when a business encounters HR related problems, money is lost.

Businesses have money coming in through the “front door” via revenue, venture capital, grants, investors, etc. However, much of this money can leave through the “back door” because of poor HR practices. For instance, time & money is lost when a business realizes, after-the-fact, that it hired the wrong employee & may now have to discharge that employee. Consequently, that business now has to spend money & time finding & training a new employee & may even have to defend its treatment & discharge of the former employee.

MO: What are some preventive and proactive HR functions that a company can implement that can make a big difference?

Charles: I deal with a lot of negative & difficult workplace issues. Over the years, I’ve come to realize that constantly & consistently recognizing great performance & behavior are essential to a business’ success. It strikes me that the most successful businesses are those that regularly recognize significant employee contributions.

On another level, paying employees on time & accurately is a fundamental practice that helps to keep employees happy & from regularly complaining about workplace issues.

Another practice is to listen to employees & take action based on what they tell you. Employees are one of a company’s best & most reliable sources of information. When a business ignores it’s employees, that business is essentially saying that all it cares about is how much it costs to break you & drain you of everything you’re worth. Subsequently, those employees will turn to a 3rd party like an attorney, regulatory agency or a labor union for a “friendly” ear & payback.

When all else fails, treat your employees as you’d like to be treated.

MO: What are some of the most common social media issues you see companies facing and how can they be avoided?

Charles: Social media is just another form of communication among people, but because if its novelty, many people seem to believe that manners aren’t applicable in those forums. Wrong.

Businesses & individuals have the right to protect their reputations, customers, employees & intellectual property. Whether that information is in hard copy, on TV or in forums like Facebook is irrelevant to the impact that breaches of etiquette & law have on businesses & individuals. Now, government agencies like the National Labor Relations Board see new opportunities for political relevance by using social media as a means to regulate how businesses treat employees.

By regulating a business’ social media conduct, these agencies can better justify their existence to Congress. However, these regulations are having a detrimental impact on free & open commerce. In other words, in many instances, these agencies are regulating businesses to a much greater extent than the targeted businesses are trying to regulate what their employees are saying on social media. Many government agencies, including the NLRB, don’t understand this technology & its impact on commerce & behavior.

Companies need to figure out a strategy for using social media for employee development as well as for profit. This includes when to let employees vent, when to listen to their employees & when to take action. Social media can be just another tool for companies to use to listen & acknowledge their employees contributions. Instead of just reacting to the negative, companies can reinforce excellent behavior & performance by reinforcing it when they see it on social media forums & by using those same forums for recognition.

MO: What tips would you pass onto someone about to hire their first full-time employee?

Charles: Pay very close attention to a candidate’s behavior & personality. You want to hire someone that you feel comfortable with.

However, don’t pay any attention to a prospect’s race, religion, socio-economic status, sexual orientation, or any other legally protected factors. To put it another way, don’t confuse a candidate’s personality or behavior for their skin color or appearance. The fact is anyone from any race, religion or background can have an outstanding work ethic & intellect. Just because someone “looks” right doesn’t mean that they’ll perform well on a day-to-day basis.

On a lighter note, none of what I’ve said means that a business should hire a jerk or someone who has horrible breath or body odor. Just don’t factor race, religion, etc., into the hiring equation, or confuse bad breath, B.O., etc., for one’s beliefs.


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