• How To Define Entrepreneurial Spirit

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    The entrepreneurial spirit is often difficult to define let alone examine in detail because of its perception as a highly creative and dynamic entity and it is with this caveat that this article is written.

    Whilst the entrepreneurial spirit can be applied to a wide range of disciplines and professionals it is perhaps most closely associated with the world of business and incorrectly used to describe many successful business people, when in fact very few individuals can truly demonstrate an entrepreneurial spirit.

    Historical Context of the meaning of entrepreneur

    The word itself is French in origin and if interpreted in its literal context means “between jobs”. It is interesting that a word that has come to project the very pinnacle of success should have such mundane roots as a means of describing being unemployed.

    This article examines a number of concepts that appear intrinsic to what constitutes entrepreneurial spirit

    1. Uniqueness

    In a highly developed global business community where new ideas and business models are increasingly in short supply the importance of uniqueness cannot be under estimated and those exhibiting an entrepreneurial spirit are often associated with concepts that encapsulate originality and ingenuity. Take for example, Steve Jobs bringing the Apple IPOD to the market,

    2. Creativity

    Creativity is heavily connected to uniqueness but the two are not identical. Individuals with an entrepreneurial spirit are experienced at harnessing the creative process to help them produce a unique product /service or advantage. So where as uniqueness describes the end outcome, creativity describes the process of how one achieves it. For this reason those with an entrepreneurial spirit are often creative individuals who are ready, willing and able to actively adopt new techniques to get ahead even at the expense of being ridiculed by others.

    3. Risk Taking

    In a western society that is so often risk averse, those with entrepreneurial spirit embrace risk taking and it is impossible for such a concept not to be associated with entrepreneurs and the often high risk potential involved in following a new cutting edge approach. It must be observed however that risk is not the same as recklessness and those demonstrating an entrepreneurial spirit are likely to be adept at assessing the risks involved in any undertaking.

    4. Business Savy

    As highlighted previously those with entrepreneurial spirit should not be considered as reckless mavericks indeed quite the opposite, good entrepreneurs are motivated by profit and are skilled at identifying a lucrative niche in the market that can be exploited for profit. Take for example, Steve Jobs at Apple Computers who has successfully navigated a profitable course in the computing and software industry despite the market being dominated by Microsoft and IBM for a number of decades. In addition he was the first to spot the potential of utilising the computing industry to open a new market to the music fraternity , with the introduction of the IPOD, the market leader in its business stream. Such actions requires great skill and confidence and demonstrate a clear entrepreneurial spirit.

    5. Developing Potential

    Identifying, Investing in and nurturing potential are also essential to the ideals attached associated with entrepreneurial spirit because of the need to find differing solutions to a business problem.

    Established businesses often fail to discover breakthroughs because they stick to a rigid investment formula that has worked for them in the past rather than finding new ways of moving forward.

    6. Adaptability

    The entrepreneurial spirit is always adaptable and ready to overcome barriers presented by business problems and is usually quicker at resolving those issues than mainstream business thinkers.

    7. Ultimately Destructive

    Entrepreneurial spirit is ultimately destructive to its own business in the medium term unless those engaged in utilizing the concept recognize when it is time to handover to mainstream management focussed individuals who can maintain and develop the organisation. This is because true entrepreneurial spirit is obsessed with constant creativity and change which is unsettling to employees without good management and a clear direction. Many of those demonstrating entrepreneurial spirit rarely stay long term in any enterprise they undertake, take Richard Branson for example who after launching numerous businesses under the “Virgin” brand has subsequently sold on many of these to third parties at a huge profit to himself.


    In conclusion whilst there are certainly key characteristics which encapsulate the entrepreneurial spirit it would be foolish to pretend that any one individual has all those traits and even more foolish to believe that such a concept can be comprehensively defined. It is also short sighted to believe that those with entrepreneurial spirit are only evident in the business community, indeed many different disciplines and vocations have historical and existing individuals contained within them that could be essentially described as entrepreneurs.

    Well Known individuals exhibiting the entrepreneurial spirit : Richard Branson, Clive Sinclair, Freddy Laker, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Anita Roddick.

  • How to Find and Analyze the Right Franchise Opportunity

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    A Franchise System can be a very effective way to open and operate a small business, especially for those without a lot of experience in operating and owning their own business. There are many advantages in using a Franchise System, such as, turn-key operations, marketing and business planning; large corporate support; lower learning curve; established accounting, cost control and management systems; brand identification; training programs; national and regional advertising; customer service programs; market trend responsiveness; supplier and vendor discounts; among others. However successful Franchise Systems are expensive. The fees / costs consist of a franchise fee, royalty fees and start-up costs. So it is very important to have a solid due diligence process in place to determine if a particular Franchise Opportunity is right for you, and whether the costs to establish and run the franchise match the effectiveness of the Franchiser’s Package Offering.


    Product / Service and Trademark Franchising

    This is an arrangement which the franchisee is granted the right to sell a well recognized brand. Most franchisees concentrate on one franchiser’s product/ service line, identifying their business with the franchise. Examples include: Automobile Dealerships, Gas Stations, Soft Drink Bottlers, etc. The franchiser exercises little control over the franchisee’s business, with the product/ service integrity being the biggest concern of the franchiser.

    – Structure and Responsibilities

    — Franchiser provides a Standardized Product

    — Franchisee Pays Franchise Fees and Responsibilities include:

    * Marketing
    * Training
    * Control System
    * Operating System
    * Accounting System
    * Building, Equipment, Signage

    Business Format Franchising

    Franchisee is granted the right to use a turn-key marketing system, with substantial assistance and guidance from the franchiser. Types of franchises include Restaurants, Retail, Hotels, Business Services; Automotive Products, Parts and Services; Convenience Stores; Entertainment Centers and so on.

    – Structure and Responsibilities

    — Franchiser provides:

    * Building Plans
    * Equipment & Signage
    * Marketing System
    * Business Plan
    * Operating System
    * Training Personnel
    * Accounting System
    * Control Systems

    — Franchisee provides:

    * Fees
    * Compliance
    * Reporting


    Follow a Franchise Analysis Checklist

    — About The Franchise

    – Has your attorney approved the franchise contract?

    – What legal grey areas have been identified?

    – Will you have exclusive territory?

    – Does the franchiser work with any other franchise handling similar products and services?

    – What are the Franchise Contract termination penalties?

    – If you sell your franchise, will you be compensated for goodwill?

    — The Franchiser

    – What is the franchiser’s number one focus?

    – How have franchisees in the past run into trouble? Difficulties?

    – What skills franchisees need most?

    – How are conflicts resolved?

    – Request the bios of Top Management. Do they have entrepreneurial backgrounds?

    – Do the franchiser’s earnings claims differ from their Franchiser Disclosure (FDD)?

    – Has the Franchiser executed detailed due diligence on your qualifications?

    – How many years has the Franchiser been operating?

    – Does the franchiser have a reputation among the franchisees, competitors and business world for honesty, integrity, accountability and fair dealing?

    – Has the franchiser shown you certified and audited financials on franchisees in your region and area which you can validate?

    – Does the franchiser provide Executive Management and Personnel Training Programs?

    – Does the franchiser provide any Capital or Credit?

    – What merchandising Programs and Training does the franchise offer?

    – Will the franchiser assist with site location?

    – Does the franchiser have adequate financing to implement its Franchisee Plan?

    – Does the Franchiser have a highly trained and experienced management team?

    – What can the Franchiser bring to the table which you can’t adeptly do yourself?

    – Has the franchiser complied with State Laws in the past? What State Laws are in place regarding Franchise Sales?

    — The Franchisee

    – How much Equity Capital will you need to:

    – Purchase the Franchise?

    – Operate until Break-Even?

    -Where will you get the Equity Capital?

    – Are you prepared to give up some independence for the advantages offered by the Franchiser?

    – Do you believe you have the qualifications to succeed as a franchisee? What other Personnel resources can you provide?

    – Are you prepared to spend a majority of your business life with this franchiser?

    — The Market

    – Does an adequate market exist in your area?

    – Will the market support the price level of the franchiser’s products and services?

    – What are the population demographic trends for your territory over the next 5 years?

    – What will be the demand for your product and service in 5 years?

    – What is the non-franchise and related franchise competition in your territory and region?


    – Determine which franchises are growing fastest.

    – Research market growth possibilities.

    – Consult Entrepreneur Magazine for its comprehensive Franchise 500 Listings.

    – Utilize the U.S. Commerce Department’s Franchise Opportunity Handbook, which is published annually.

    – Contact the International Franchise Association for assistance.
    Determine What the Franchise Can Do for You


    – Start-up help, to include market analysis, site location, financial advice; building and equipment design and purchase.

    – Successful Operational System.

    – Accounting and Cost Control System.

    – Monthly operating results support; performance standards; financial auditing; franchisee financial comparative analysis.

    – Financial Assistance: land, building, equipment, inventory and working capital.

    – Site purchase assistance.

    – Standardized Construction, Design and Signage.

    – Training Programs.

    – National and Regional Advertising Program.

    – Brand Recognition Promotion.

    – Customer Services Standards and Program.

    – Responsiveness to market changes.

    – Supplier discounting via large volume ordering.


    Examine more than one franchise and compare / contrast through a standardized checklist (see previous section). Investigate franchises in the same line of business.


    – Contact several franchise owners listed in the FDD, as well as, not referenced by the Franchiser to solicit their experiences.

    – Seek out franchisees that have been in the business over 5 years.

    – Talk with experienced franchisees about what to expect during the first year of operation- the typical success or failure period for a franchise.

    – Ask franchisees to share their Business Plan with you. This gives you an inside track on the operational and planning expectations for a typical franchise, along with keys to success.

    – Ask franchisees what the Franchiser does to justify all the fees charged.

    – Determine how well prepared franchisees were when opening the franchise. Surprises? Franchiser weaknesses?

    – How effective are the Marketing, Promotion, Branding and Advertising Programs? Do they bring the right customer to franchisees?

    – Determine the real financial numbers. How much to open a franchise? How quickly a franchise started making money? Get the real story and compare it to the Franchiser’s disclosure to determine credibility.

    – Do your research and homework prior to meeting with Franchisees so you don’t waste their time and you appear serious.

    – Make a good, professional impression on franchisees as they often will report their impressions to the Franchiser.

    -Understand where the franchisee is coming from: i.e. Someone close to your territory may give you faulty information if he feels competitively threatened. Or, a franchisee may overstate his/ her success.

    – If allowed by the FDD, consider a Joint Venture with an experienced Franchisee. An 80/20 relationship can make a lot of sense to both the new and experienced franchisees in a proximate region or area.

    – Try to spend an entire day with each Franchisee. This is the only way to get a true fell for the franchise and determine why the franchisee is successful (or conversely, why he/ she is blowing smoke). Build a relationship with franchisees, and you will be more apt to receive honest, diligent and detailed feedback.

    – Ask franchisees if the franchiser encourages the franchisee to share feedback, ideas, successes, failures and whether these experiences get incorporated in the field.

    – Is the franchisee happy with their life post franchise opening? Is the business enjoyable?
    – For more ways to get a franchisee to open up to you, visit Entrepreneur.com


    – Franchise Attorney and Accountant
    – Franchising Consultant
    – Business Consultant
    – Finance Consultant


    – The International Franchise Association serves Franchisers in more than 50 countries and has a code of Franchisers’ Ethics and Obligations to Franchisees.

    – Franchiser members pledge to comply with all laws and make complete, accurate, non-misleading disclosure statements and documents.

    – Franchiser members pledge to only accept franchisees that meet prescribed qualifications.

    – Understand your rights if the Franchiser attempts to buy back the franchise.

    – Issues to explore:

    — Captive Supplier Pricing
    — Inadequate Service
    — Slashing Support Services
    — Fraud
    — City and State Laws & Regulations regarding Franchises

  • Silos Are for Farms: How to Make Fundraising a Part of Your Organizing

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    President Barack Obama’s successful Presidential campaign brought together organizing and fundraising more powerfully than anyone ever has on such a huge scale. We experienced a level of volunteerism and a level of giving that we’d never seen before. And, we are still seeing increasing numbers of people volunteering.

    This is important because of the proven connection between giving time and giving money. A study done by researcher Penelope Burk showed that 93% of donors volunteer and 95% give to the organizations where they volunteer. So, there is a natural connection between organizing people to give time and organizing people to give money. And, you’ll notice that I used the word “organizing.” Fundraising is organizing. If you can do one, you can do the other. In fact, if you can do one, you must do the other.

    A big part of my work focuses on helping groups integrate their fundraising and their organizing. This idea of building an organizational culture of fundraising makes sense to a lot of people in theory. Yet, often times they don’t know how to make it happen in practice at their organizations.

    Here are some tips and strategies to get you started:

    Discuss the Similarities of Organizing & Fundraising.

    At their core, organizing and fundraising are both about building relationships and building community. Unfortunately, we often hear the word fundraising and immediately jump to the part where you ask someone for money, even though that’s only 5% of the job. Undoing this misconception is critical. Start by taking a step back and expanding your view of what fundraising is really all about – building a broad network of like-minded people who will give you time, money, advice, power in numbers, moral support in good times and bad, and lots more.

    Organizers and leaders from your membership base will see striking similarities between identifying and involving new volunteers and identifying and involving potential donors. They both start by recognizing those who are predisposed to your cause and learning more about their interests, then getting them involved when the time is right by starting small, and continuing to build the relationship to steady, more dedicated involvement. Seeing these parallels helps organizers and membership leaders realize that they already possess most of the skills needed to be a great fundraiser – because they are the same skills that it takes to be a great organizer. This won’t single-handedly compel anyone to start fundraising, but it’s an important first step in understanding what fundraising is really all about.

    Create Space to Talk about What is Hard about Fundraising. Discuss the Societal Taboos around Money.

    Fundraising is scary for virtually everyone at first. There is no getting around that. It’s also incredibly rewarding and empowering but that doesn’t come until later for most of us. U.S. culture is riddled with taboos about money – it’s something that polite people just aren’t supposed to talk about. So, what does that say about those of us who are not only talking about money, but also asking you for some of yours?!

    Here’s what it says to me… It says we will not play by these rules. It says we will not allow a system that has created such a vastly unequal distribution of wealth to go unchallenged. It says that we are proud of the life-changing work that we are doing, that we need money to do the work, and that we aren’t afraid to ask for it. Fundraising doesn’t support political work; fundraising is political work. Fundraising doesn’t support organizing; fundraising is organizing. Fundraising doesn’t support movement building; fundraising is movement building.

    Now, as I get down off my soapbox, let me say how important it is that you talk with anyone who is new to fundraising about the societal taboos around talking about money. These are very real. Discuss where they come from. Talk about their first associations and earliest memories of money and share yours. Create space to talk about how they feel about asking someone for money. Depending on the culture of your organization, you’ll have to think about how personal you want to get with this. We certainly don’t want anyone to feel put on the spot or like they are being forced into some kind of group therapy session. Be aware of this and respect people’s limits as well as your own boundaries.

    The other piece that’s important to recognize is that what’s challenging about fundraising can be different for different people. If you grew up in poverty or struggling to make ends meet, your perspective and feelings about asking someone for a donation may be different from your co-worker who was raised upper-middle class. This is not to say that organizers from families who didn’t have to worry about money are comfortable fundraising. It’s simply to say that everyone’s comforts and discomforts will vary.

    Race and class dynamics are as present within fundraising as with anything else, probably even more so because we are dealing directly with money. Be conscious of this and incorporate the ways racism, classism, and privilege are at play into your conversations about fundraising.

    Start with Small, Less Scary Fundraising Work. Demystify Who Donors Are.

    It can be reassuring to organizers and members for them to see all the different ways they can help raise money without actually having to make “the ask.” This isn’t to say that they won’t grow into that part of fundraising. But, it’s helpful to get their feet wet doing other things first – calling donors to thank them for their gift, accompanying a seasoned fundraiser on a cultivation or stewardship visit, giving tours to donors, leading an open house, or writing handwritten thank you cards to a group who recently attended a luncheon. By beginning to have direct contact with donors, everyone will start to see them as the real people they are.

    For example, I remember working with an organizer-in-training to write notes on thank you letters. She came across the letter for a close organizational ally and was blown away by the size of her contribution. This woman totally defied her vision of who a $1,000 donor is. That experience broke down the concept of “us versus them,” of donors being somehow different from people she knows. This was a critical step for her. She not only realized that she could be successful in asking for a donation of that size or more. She also discovered that she herself knew people and could relate to people capable to giving significant gifts.

    Make Fundraising Part of Leadership Development.

    Leadership development is a core program for many grassroots organizations. When members get involved and volunteer, they might learn about the political process, how to write a press release, public speaking skills, etc. Fundraising rarely makes this list. That has to change. Your members don’t need to be shielded or protected from the complications of budgets and balance sheets. By not including fundraising and organizational finances as part of our leadership development curriculum, we are colluding with the same system that makes money a societal taboo that’s not to be discussed.

    Educate your members about the role of fundraising in building a movement for justice. Show volunteers your budget and help them understand how to read it. Tell them where you get the money to pay for all the work your organization does and all the time that goes into raising that money. Talk to them about how they can help, and not just by selling raffle tickets and organizing a yard sale. See if your volunteers would be willing to come with you to meet with a supporter to talk about the impact the organization has had in their lives. Ask them to write a “thank you” note to a donor or call a new contributor who just gave their first gift. As a supporter, there’s nothing more powerful than hearing directly from people on the ground about how their donation made a difference.

    Offer Different Ways to be Involved in Fundraising.

    Everyone has different talents. Match people up with the fundraising strategies that play to their strengths. If someone is a great writer, they may be able to help write direct mail appeals, newsletter articles, grant proposals, or donor acknowledgements. A born party planner could take the lead on house parties or grassroots events for the organization.

    And always, always think about ways to connect organizers and members to individual donor work, including donors who give significant high-dollar gifts. Don’t assume your organizers only know low-dollar donors. They know prospects for “major” gifts as well. Remember – giving is not a state of wealth; it’s a state of mind. As I touched on above, the more you equate “major donor” with “rich person,” the less successful your fundraising will be.

    Lastly, don’t assume that so-called major donors won’t want to meet with organizers or membership leaders. These high-dollar supporters are exactly the ones who want to hear firsthand stories about the work and who better to tell them than an organizer and a lead volunteer.

    Provide Structure. Build in Systems of Accountability.

    Fundraising should be part of every staff person’s workplan alongside their organizing responsibilities, as it is at Neighbor to Neighbor Massachusetts (N2N-MA) where I was the development director for seven years. Each organizer had a list of donors assigned to them, fundraising goals, and a timeline. There is also an agreed upon amount of time that each person will spend fundraising each week. This may vary from person to person and from week to week but it is planned into their schedules. Otherwise, it won’t happen. It can’t be an add-on for when there’s extra time. Because, as any organizer knows, there’s never extra time.

    Regular reporting about fundraising should be integrated into staff meetings and supervisory check-ins. At N2N-MA, I put fundraising as the first item on the agenda as often as possible. This made sure the group was alert and that we didn’t run out of time and have to cut it short. When you meet, have people report on their fundraising priorities, accomplishments and struggles, just as they do with their organizing. This also provides a level of group accountability so each person can hear what their peers are working on.

    Absolute transparency around income and expenses is even more critical for organizations where all staff have fundraising responsibilities. Report on budget projections and provide financial reports regularly so that it’s clearly known how much money needs to be raised, how much has been pledged, and how much is left to go. Also, discuss potential shortfalls as a group and troubleshoot new fundraising strategies to close the gap. Everyone in the organization deserves to know and understand the state of the group’s finances. It also helps staff to understand how their piece fits into the big picture.

    Give Trainings, Templates, Tools & Talking Points.

    Spend time regularly on skill-building exercises related to fundraising. At N2N-MA, I tried to give my organizers a new fundraising script every month or two and I’d pair them up at staff meeting to practice. I’d have people sit back-to-back so it would be as close to a real phone call as possible, without the benefits of eye contact and body language. I’d also sometimes pair veteran organizers who had been fundraising for a while with newer recruits for peer mentoring and support. It was incredibly powerful for organizers with little fundraising experience to see what a skilled fundraiser “someone like [them] could become,” as I’ve heard more than one organizer say.

    I’d plan enough time so that each person got to play the donor and the fundraiser at least once. Then I’d bring the group back together to share what worked well and where they got stuck. With any new script, I found the organizers were more comfortable getting on the phones if they’d already had a chance to run through it a few times.

    In addition to training, it’s important for development staff to consistently provide template letters, sample voicemail messages, and talking points on recent accomplishments and upcoming campaigns. Some people use them. Some don’t. Some just feel better knowing they have them if they need them. Either way, giving organizers all the tools they need to succeed maximizes the effectiveness of their fundraising time and enables them to hit the ground running. You don’t want each person reinventing the wheel every time a follow-up letter needs to be sent out. Providing these materials also sends the message that you respect and value their time. Something that all organizers never have enough of!

    Meet People Where They Are. Not Everyone Will Grow to Love Fundraising.

    While every organizer can be an effective fundraiser, that doesn’t mean it’s going to be everyone’s favorite thing to do. Some will like it. Some will love it. Some won’t. That’s okay. They don’t have to love, or even like, every aspect of their job. But fundraising is a core skill. All organizers and members need to know how to do it. This model is also the most sustainable way to build a long-term, integrated movement for social change – so it’s responsible organizing too.

    Since fundraising isn’t the primary job responsibility of any organizer, it’s important to understand that they will have more time to give to fundraising at some times than others, depending on the ebb and flow of your group’s program work. Be sympathetic to this. At the same time, it is also important to remind organizers that the best time to raise money is often at the height of a campaign. This is a delicate balance. It is also one of the reasons why it is so important to have a structure in place where fundraising is part of everyone’s weekly workplan, and is discussed regularly at supervisory check-ins and at staff meetings. Otherwise, it’s the first thing to go at crunch time!

    Lead By Example. It’s a Two-Way Street.

    It should go without saying that fundraising staff must be included in strategic planning sessions, staff retreats, and other organizational meetings. As a development director, I also found it important to spend some of my time organizing. Not at the level that organizers spend fundraising, but a few times each year. It kept me connected to the work to spend some time in the field door-knocking or phone-banking. This isn’t anything fancy that requires training as a professional organizer, but it’s enough to give you a real sense of the work on-the-ground. And, since I usually “volunteered” at peak campaign season when extra hands were desperately needed, the organizers and the membership really appreciated it as well. This was good for our relationships and contributed to all of us feeling like part of the same team.

    My Final Pep Talk

    These practices won’t all work exactly as outlined for every organization. And, transitioning to this model can be a long process. But, you have to start somewhere and the benefits are enormous.

    Here is just a glimpse of what you can expect if you take steps towards breaking down the divisions between your organizing and your fundraising:

    More collaboration within your organization.
    More resources dedicated to fundraising.
    Stronger relationships with your donors.
    More volunteers as donors.
    More donors as volunteers.
    More money for program work.
    A stronger movement for change.

    Now, who wouldn’t want that?

  • What Are the Workplace Safety Furnishings and Supplies in Construction Industry

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    All construction companies are required to have their workplace safety policy that is compliant to the area’s OSHA or Occupational Safety and Hazard Management. Each construction project must be able to create an internal system that ensure proper safety measures and management so that their construction workers are able to work without worrying for their safety. Accidents do happen and being prepared is the only way to go. Construction companies who happen to have absences from their employee, There are so many things to consider in workplace safety but it can help you in managing safety in your group.

    Safety Equipment Supplies like goggles, hard hats, working gloves, harness, safety boots can be provided by some of the Industrial Safety Supplies companies in the area. Different types of work requires different types of safety equipment and get-up. For example, workers who are in the cutting or handling hard and sharp objects on site must be provided with Kevlar Cut Resistant Gloves or Puncture Resistance Gloves to prevent them from suffering gushes or cuts. Workers who happen to perform rounding duties usually wore lifelines or harness just in case they might fall off. Still, other use other pertinent equipment and gear to handle their job without harm. Typical safety gear kits include goggles for eye protection, hard hat for head protection, and safety steel-toe boots to protect the feet from falling objects. Some even have tools like a torch, lighter and other stuffs….

    Each worker should have these three essentials in working in a construction site. The head of the workplace safety management is usually called a Safety Engineer. He is the on responsible for overseeing the safety status of the whole project. He devises plans and systems that can comply and implement OSHA. He conducts the emergency management training for the workers and as well as basic first aid. These are essential in helping out those who will be in an accident. If the project is long term, trainings are continuously conducted on a periodic frequency.

    Rarely do Hazmat Suits, specifically Level A Hazmat Suit are used in the construction industry because they are not applicable in the area. Level A Hazmat Suit is actually a full head-to-toe costume that has its own breathing apparatus and communication abilities within the confines of the suit. Although, they can protect the wearer from toxic substances and extreme heat or cold, the lack of inter human relations can prove to be wrong. So let us get starting seriously.

    As much as possible, remember to ask around the local laws about having to deal with the OSHA policy. The workplace safety might be ignored or neglected but when something bad happens, it is usually the first to be looked upon. If accidents do happen, then the Safety Engineer is liable for the reputation of the company he represents. He can loose his license and his job by being too lax. He constantly think of furnishings and supplies that can best fit the items in his Safety Management Plan.

  • Beyond the Human Resource Function: What Lies Ahead?

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    An increasingly common theme in Human Resource (HR) literature in the 1990’s concerns how the HR Department can make a greater contribution to the success of the business it serves. To do so, we must first change our view of the Human Resource role as being only executable within a traditional “Department.” We must view HR more as a “function,” or “a set of activities,” than as a department. While HR services may not be delivered in the future via what we know as a Department, they must be delivered in some way. This article is about the realm of possibilities.

    The HR Function Today

    Today the HR Department is in a transitional phase. Some organizations have long ago realized that the HR Department can make a greater difference. Others need convincing. A positive trend seems to be developing, as evidenced in publications of the Human Resource professional’s accrediting organization, the Society for Human Resource Management, (e.g. see HR Magazine, 11/98). Chief Executive Officers are increasingly viewing the HR function as an actual or potential “strategic business partner.” This is encouraging, for as recently as the early 1990’s the notion of the HR function as a strategic partner would have been quite novel.

    To understand where the HR function is going, it is helpful to briefly review its past.


    In the first half of the 20th century, the Human Resource function grew out of the Payroll function. The remnants of this can be seen in companies that retain the responsibility for payroll processing within the HR Department. Today, the payroll function can often be found in the Controller’s functional area.

    This new entity then became known as the “Personnel Department.” It was responsible for those duties that, quite frankly, didn’t seem to fit anywhere else, such as overseeing the employment process. Unlike later iterations, the Personnel Department was not concerned with strategic recruiting and selection. Its goal was simply to hire people to fill “jobs,” a 20th century creation. This emphasis explains how, even today, many people think of the Personnel Department as simply “the Department that hires people.” So engrained is this idea that, even in surveys of HR practitioners that we conduct today, many of them still define the main purpose of the HR Department as being “the employment of people.” Of course, it is true that in many of their companies, hiring people still is their main focus and purpose.

    Since its inception, the HR Department has gone through a number of transformations, as depicted in Figure 1. During the 1970’s and 1980’s as it sought a new identity. These changes attempted to reposition the function as the guardian of employee relations and a provider of services.

    The Evolution of the Human Resource Department:

    – Payroll
    – Payroll/Personnel Department
    – Personnel Department
    – Employee Services Department
    – Human Relations Department
    – Employee and/or Labor Relations Department
    – Personnel Relations Department
    – Human Resource Department
    – Human Assets Department
    – Human Capital Department
    – Human Systems Department

    In terms of the evolution of Management, this change had its origins in the “Human Relations” and “Human Resource” Movements of prior decades. The core notion of these movements was that organizations should proactively establish closer links with its employees to create the perception of, if not an actual concern for, employees, because of the employees’ potential to disrupt organizations when “relations” became unstable.

    This era was also the beginning of the “employee involvement” movement and strategy. Employees became more increasingly engaged in decisionmaking that affected them. Progressive companies increasingly realized that employees who did the work, knew the work best. To gain greater acceptance of change, it was best to involve employees whose lives would be affected by the change. Human Resource professionals became “Employee Relations Counselors” and had the responsibility of bridging, establishing and maintaining a stable relationship between the employer and its employees.

    Eventually, the notions of the HR function as the Personnel Department and the Employee Relations Department gave way to a new notion: the idea of employees as organizational “resources” to be valued. Thus was born the “Human Resource Department.”

    Structurally, the Department did not change very much. The various sub-functions of Employment, Compensation, Training, and others remained. But the connotation of employees as “resources” permitted the HR Department to be viewed as something more than just a hiring function or as a mere provider of counseling and other services to employees. It suggested that the HR function recognized that humans as resources could be valued, served, recognized and “invested in,” in ways which could increase their value to the company.

    It was the start of what would later emerge as “Human Capital” theory. This theory holds that, through training and education, an investment in people will provide a “return” to the company in the form of greater innovation and/or productivity. We see this final transition represented in Figure 1 by several newly conceptualized titles, including “Human Systems” and “Human Assets” Departments. Human Systems, for example, refers to the potential involvement of the HR practitioner in any human system within the company, be it a pay system, a sociotechnical system, a team-based systems or others requiring the internal consultation of the HR professional. Their contribution is tied more closely to the strategic nature of the business and the impact can therefore be even greater than that which was possible within the traditional HR Department.


    Where is the HR function today? In an increasing number of companies, HR services are being delivered in new ways. In others, the HR Department resembles the same function and structure used in the 1960’s.

    Fortunately, we are seeing long overdue change. The change is prompted by how organizations of the 1990’s need to be or demand to be serviced. For some, this means being a full-fledged strategic partner in the business. For others, it simply means being utilized as something more than a mere hiring or administrative function.

    Change is also affecting the name of the emerging HR function. As depicted in Figure 1, the HR function in some companies is becoming the “Human Capital,” “Human Systems” or “Human Asset” Department. These names suggest the need to invest in human capital or human assets, as well as to evaluate how people are integrated in various organizational systems. Being new, these names may be better thought of as part of HR’s future.

    The Effect of Cross-Functionalization

    Specifically, how are HR services being delivered today? Certainly, functional structures are still in use, with their traditionally separate specialty areas such as Employment, Compensation, Training, and others. However, as “team-based,” “lateral,” “cross-functional,” or “matrix” organizations (choose a name) proliferate, the HR function has adapted. It is increasingly common to see a cross-functional HR representative assigned to other functional areas to provide general, ongoing HR services to that area, team, or group.

    A more radical approach for the delivery of HR services is one in which it is understood that the HR representative is more strongly aligned with the assigned functional area than to the traditional HR Department. The difference is one of emphasis. While this is happening now, this structure could be considered more of a model for the future.

    Unfortunately, this structure sometimes creates a split allegiance for the HR professional. Internal conflict increases under this model both within and across the HR functional representatives because the HR representative can become more emotionally tied to the assigned function than to the central HR function.

    The Trend Toward Generalists

    The trend toward the use of more HR generalists and fewer specialists also continues. This is an outgrowth of downsized organizations and the “do more with less” philosophy of the 1990’s. Thus, the makeup of HR Departments reflects this demand, increasing the use of generalists who can “do it all.” Some companies complement this approach with specialists, such as Compensation Specialists, for example, who are called upon as needed to serve the entire company in an internal consulting capacity. Company size also impacts the ratio of generalists to specialists. The larger the company, the more likely it is that it will create specialist positions.

    Shared Services Model

    Another current model gaining increased attention is the delivery of HR services via a “shared services” model. This is a centralized model in which HR specialists and generalists deliver services to the entire company on an as-needed basis, charged to the functional area served.

    The central HR function also can perform normal or expected services such as administrative services (somebody has to do it!) on behalf of the company. These may be free to specific functions or the costs may be distributed over all functions.

    The shared services model creates a more positive image for the HR Department as an internal consulting function rather than an administrative function, or in the other, less attractive ways the function has been traditionally viewed. A disadvantage of this approach can be the reluctance of other functions to utilize services for which they will be charged. An HR function operating in this environment would be wise to internally market its services to, or “partner” with, other functions.


    The future will be an interesting time for the Human Resource function. As one HR consultant observed (ACA Journal, Spring 1997), a review of the debates in the national business media might lead one to conclude that the future HR Department will be “a fraction of its size, with the remaining activities pushed up (to the CEO), down (to line management), out (to vendors and consultants) and in (to technology).”

    Will it continue to exist, but as a smaller entity? Will it become functionally stronger, gaining greater acceptance, meaning and value in organizations where it serves? Or will its duties remain but be delivered in other forms?

    Here are some of the more radical possibilities.

    The Devolution of the HR Department

    One scenario has the HR function being “devoluted” (i.e. de-evolved), with its tasks being redistributed or incorporated into other functional areas. Thus, managers in what once were the “customer” areas served by HR take on HR functions such as employment, compensation, counseling, and many more.

    This envisioned future is disconcerting to HR professionals. A common reaction is that the supervisors and managers of other functional areas do not possess the HR professional’s knowledge, gained over a long period of time about matters such as discrimination law, dispute resolution, pay strategy, administrative requirements, designing and presenting training programs, and many other responsibilities resident within HR Departments. A major concern is that this lack of knowledge on the part of the receiving function about compliance law will result in financial damage to the company, in the form of fines and penalties.

    In fact, the belief that the HR function can be devoluted can be a serious misconception. From the general HR literature, it appears that non-HR professionals, including Executives, sometimes minimize the value of the HR function. Consequently, they conclude that absorbing its responsibilities will be relatively easy. This is a very dangerous assumption. One reason why an absorption of duties does not work is the time demands placed upon the absorbing functions and individuals. Whether the HR role is one capable of absorption or not, time constraints prohibit its successful and timely execution.

    Thus, the thinking about the HR function’s role and importance comes full circle. It is a unique function with unique preparatory requirements. In another irony of perspective concerning the absorption of the HR function, it is interesting to observe how commonly companies assign the HR function to the Financial function, but never the converse! In fact, both functions should be viewed as different, unique and, above all, separate.

    Human Systems Management

    Another scenario for the HR function’s future is a movement toward “Human Systems Management.” As briefly defined earlier, this is the management of human systems, or any organizational system in which the role, impact and reaction of the human element is of primary importance.

    Human Systems Management encompasses much of what Human Resource Management has become, and more. In it, the HR function is re-creating, redefining, and essentially retuning for the Post-Modern and Information Ages. The system may be exclusively human (e.g. the process of team building) or sociotechnical (i.e. the interaction of people and technology). It may involve the redesign of work or the design of new pay systems to improve employee satisfaction and organizational performance. The key element is the human element. The desired outcome is twofold: improved individual and organizational performance.

    In this HR future, we move away from the view of HR as a functional area and redefine it in terms of its internal consulting capabilities. Yet it still permits the HR function to fulfill a role we have come to expect, namely, to provide services which do not fit neatly into the roles of other functions. It is that “crossover” activity, in which the business’ operations must be understood and combined with the special expertise that HR professionals possess, including knowledge of organizational behavior, organizational theory, organizational development, and human resource management. Human Systems Management thinking recognizes that the HR professional has a unique view of the organization, and serves to capitalize upon it.

    Shared Services Model

    The Shared Services Model has become an increasingly popular model of HR Department design, and, as previously described, could be considered as a current design. What makes it more of a future model at this time, however, is its relative lack of implementation. Practitioners are still working out the organizational issues it creates, and discovering its usefulness.

    In this model the HR Department acts as a kind of “central consulting organization” and, sometimes, even becomes a “profit center,.”” charging its services to other departments as its services are retained by them. While the traditional HR Department can provide consulting services out of its historically common structure, the consulting relationship is more formal in the shared services model. It is not the “old” HR Department redefining itself as internal consultants. Rather, it is a formal re-introduction of HR into the company as a functional area with a newly defined mission. This mission is to provide HR consulting services as requested for a fee.

    While it may not actually be profitable as a profit center, it is an intriguing way to assess the organization’s need for HR services. If one believes that the HR function can act like a strategic partner, how often are we afforded the opportunity to prove it? Do others see HR as being a mutually useful and beneficial partner in order to achieve their business objectives? Being organized in a Shared Services Model will give you the answer quickly.


    An increasingly popular model today is outsourcing, which permits the HR function to rid itself of activities that can often be performed by others more effectively or economically. In other cases, outsourcing simply permits the HR function to turn its attention to other, more important matters.

    It would be easy to view the use of outsourcing as a current phenomenon, not as something that will occur in the future. However, a growing change in the outsourcing strategies of companies is to move beyond the simple outsourcing of administrative tasks and into the realm of professional services like compensation program management and maintenance activities. For example, third parties may be used to maintain a company’s job descriptions. This is important and useful because this activity is normally a time-consuming responsibility that is often avoided internally. Third parties/consultants also can design and implement training and development programs, as well as conduct audits (e.g. pay program audits, retention audits, skill audits, etc.).

    We have always outsourced a number of HR activities. These include contingent/retained recruiters, benefits administration, and training and development programs to some extent. What has changed? Specifically, it is the expansion of the activities that we are willing to outsource, spurred by the new rationale for outsourcing more HR activities: namely, that we are recognizing that the HR role can be performed much more effectively in other ways. We are moving away from the “administrative, service and control” HR model and toward the “strategic partner” HR model, and extensions of it. When we can lighten the load of HR functions in order to address more meaningful challenges, we are increasing our worth and value to our organizations. Outsourcing helps us to achieve this.

    Environmental Scanning

    This is, perhaps, the most unusual possible course of action for HR Department design in the future. Scanning refers to the monitoring of activities in the company’s external environment. Scanning activities have been part of the HR Department’s role for quite some time. For example, Compensation Departments are responsible for conducting pay surveys to gather external marketplace data. The HR Department also scans governmental activity to monitor changes in laws which affect the management of people. Employment Managers monitor demographic changes in the workforce to establish recruitment strategies.

    The suggestion, therefore, is that the HR Department become the entity which is responsible for those and other scanning activities, some of which may now be performed by other functional areas, such as Marketing which is responsible for market research, or for outsourcing tasks (once again, to the “outside” of the company).

    The possibilities are endless but require very different thinking about the tasks of different departments and a willingness to centralize them under the new entity. Like any other cross-functional redesign effort, a “natural work group” of tasks (i.e. a combined task group that makes sense) would need to be assembled to make this vision a reality. Not all external scanning possibilities would make sense for grouping in a department that, in the end, may have a name other than the Human Resource Department. It could be called the “Environmental Monitoring” Department, as one of many possibilities. Whatever its name, the core concept is that what happens on the outside of our companies is important and worth researching, or simply, good “strategic management.”


    Ask someone to quickly define the purpose of an HR Department and you’ll receive some interesting answers, from both practitioners and non-practitioners alike. The diversity of their answers reflects the uniqueness of the HR function.

    We seemingly can’t live with the HR function, nor without it. It is becoming something more than it has been historically, and yet it faces the prospect of further evolutionary change. Different methods of service delivery will be seen in different companies. The demand for services will differ depending upon the company and its view of the role and purpose of the HR function.

    I believe it is safe to say that the HR function can be “something more” than it has been in many companies. In some, HR has already demonstrated how valuable its contribution can be. In others, it continues to provide only administrative support. Perhaps the solution rests in what the contract will be between the HR function and the organization it serves. What does the organization want HR to be?

    We see the potential emergence of the HR function as a “hybrid” structure, consisting of the valuable parts of its past, but combined with new services and approaches aimed at supporting the new business entities and thinking that have emerged in the last fifteen years. For example, the training and development of human assets has now become just as important to the managers of Manufacturing, Engineering, and other functional areas, as it has always been to the HR professional. This convergence of thought provides new opportunities to the HR professional to serve in ways which are increasingly valuable and meaningful to supported functions.

    With these changes come new opportunities for HR professionals to influence and impact not only the design and delivery of HR services, but to shape the image of the HR profession in the new millennium. As HR professionals, we should be excited about the possibilities that lie ahead.

    By David Wudyka, Managing Principal,

    Westminster Associates

    Westminster Associates is a New England-based, full-service human-resource and compensation consulting firm specializing in compensation, performance management and productivity improvement for organizations in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine, as well as across the country.

    David Wudyka, SPHR, MBA, BSIE, manages and oversees all Company operations, including the design, development, and implementation of all client HR programs. With more than thirty years of professional HR experience, he has a strong interest today in the increasingly emerging role of the HR department as a strategic partner, employee retention strategies, and group incentive plans.