HR Spa Day at the Chicken & Bacon Farm

Today I had the opportunity to spend most of the day with a number of nonprofit health-care HR pros at a continuing care facility near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Spending time with other human resources people is always like going to on a spa vacation for me.  My worries melt away as I connect with others who understand my role and its challenges. Hours fly as we share tips, commiserate and brainstorm. I emerge refreshed and rejuvenated.  Ahhhhh, Calgon, take me away!!  But today, I had no idea my HR spa vacation would take place on a chicken and pig farm (more to follow). It wasn’t quite what I imagined, but it all turned out just fine.

We talked about:


  • How do we best communicate with employees in an constantly-evolving world?
  • Employees  continually texting on the job.
  • Supervisors attempting to supervise by text and email.
  • Technology and social media policies.
  • Pros and cons of vetting candidates on FaceBook, etc.
  • Unions  using FaceBook to reach out to potential converts.

My HR Twitter/blogging friends might be interested to know I did NOT pick up on anti-social media sentiment (yay!). Instead, the approach seemed to be, and I paraphrase:  Technology brings great advantages for nonprofits. How can we use technology to work more efficiently and connect with our employees and supporters? And knowing that all tools of all kinds have pros and cons and may backfire when used inappropriately, how can we guide their use at work?

Also I will mention I was the only representative using an applicant tracking system, and my compadres listened in awe listened attentively and asked polite questions as I listed benefits as compared to the reasonable cost.  No, seriously, since all are still using paper apps and emailed resumes and hand-entered spreadsheets that masquerade as ATS’s, they were quite psyched; I think I found a few converts.

Benefits, Mandated or Otherwise

  • FMLA: lots of talk about difficulties administering intermittent leave.
  • Workers comp fun and games.  Oh yeah!
  • Unemployment woes. In the three states represented today, it seems anything short of workplace homicide warrants U.I. benefits in 2010.

Bacon! HR loves bacon!

One group calls their PTO (paid time off) “ BLT” for Benefit Leave Time. Rolling out their PTO several years ago, they ran a contest to name the program and the winning entry was BLT. Of course, they cooked up several pounds of bacon and offered platters of BLT’s at the launch. HR people are so creative!

HR  loves chicken, too!

Two colleagues previously worked many years in poultry processing plants so they educated us on the finer points of the business. I must confess I stepped out to the rest room as they discussed decapitation methods and Kosher killing.  But when I returned, I heard some really interesting stories about Poultry Industry Icon Bo Pilgram. And I learned these fascinating and useful facts:

  • Turkey and chicken hot dogs = Good. My insider friends say don’t believe any negative hype, poultry hot dogs are quality and all meat. Tamra said she still buys only Shady Brook Farms hot dogs ten years after leaving that company.
  • Turkey bacon = Good.  It’s made from thighs and other dark meat, in case you ever wondered.
  • Flavoring for Ramen-style noodles: No, no, no!  Not good!  According to my industry veteran friends, the flavoring is made from “paws:” chicken feet sold to countries east of us. Another reason not to eat those square packages of fried noodles!! Ugh.

When you meet with a group of HR folks, you always know it will be fun and entertaining, but you never quite know where the discussion will lead.  In this case, it was to the farm: bacon, hot dogs and ramen. And the rest of the conversation wasn’t bad, either.

photo:  unprose

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