Our Approach to Conflict

HR Matrix consultants are often asked to work with teams or sets of individuals when personalities seem to be clashing. These situations are often presented as incompatible personalities, differences in “style,” and communication problems.  Typically, one individual appears more reasonable or accommodating, or a better fit with the organization, while the other is seen as troublesome. However, once we begin to work with people in conflict, the task is to determine if we can discover the true cause of the discord.

One of the basics of our work is to look at individuals not as culprits, but as part of a whole system and how the system – the other elements, factors, people, and culture – contributes to the conflict. If we only look at one person’s style or behavior, then we may  be missing the real issues. Because whatever the person’s style, there are always ways in which the system contributes to the problem.

To begin with, as we know, it takes two to tango. It is very rarely one person creating a problem. Although much of the tension may circle around a single person, and their choices and behaviors may contribute greatly, they are definitely not acting alone. And, if we only address that person in the equation, we wont really solve anything. So, in order to work through conflict in groups or between individuals, the first thing to do is examine the variety of elements affecting the situation. That includes the behavior of other people, the factors impacting their work, and the roles people play.

Even after discovering the impact of other people on a conflict, a common mistake is to address the conflict as an interpersonal one. “It’s a relationship problem.” Although it may seem that two people are just not getting along (and they may indeed be behaving badly), in most cases the root of the conflict is not their personalities. More often, the root cause is often found in unclear processes, role confusion, and different approaches with respect to how they are doing their work. It is often as simple as sorting out misunderstandings, miscommunications, and lack of clarity around shared work processes, goals, and roles. With that said, doing this sorting out can be challenging. By the time our firm is called in to help with a conflict, trust has often eroded and people have become frustrated and discouraged. This gets in the way of the work they need to do together to fix their shared problems.

Working with a consultant can be a great way to sort through the trust issues that keep people from working effectively on their challenges. Those within the organization, even the most well-meaning manager or best trained HR professional, are hindered by two things:  1) They may appear to be partial: to favor one party or seem to have allegiance primarily to the company, and; 2) They are part of the ‘system’ and may not be able to see the structural issues, such as process and culture, as easily as an outsider can.  It’s true. We can see a friend’s problems and solutions more easily than our own. In the same way, having an outside consultant help us to see the problems can be very effective.

When we work with conflicts of this kind, the first order of business is to develop forums for trusting, productive conversation. It isn’t easy, and requires a commitment from the parties involved to come to the table willing to work together. Very often, that simple commitment to try again, the safety to do so without blame and repercussions, and a clear look beyond personality at the systems and behaviors they can improve, results in real conflict resolution and allows people to begin working together again.




2018 Newsletter & Compliance Update

Happy New Year to our clients and colleagues!

We wanted to remind you of the recent and upcoming changes in employment laws that may affect your business. We created an easy checklist for you to use. As always, contact your HR Matrix associate or call our direct number if you need any assistance or have questions.

This last year, the HR Matrix expanded its team and we celebrated some milestones. As a firm, we celebrated 11 years in business. In 2006, Brenda Gilchrist and Gary Hochman merged their HR/OD practices to become one of the most highly regarded firms in the North Bay. Since then, we have brought on the best and brightest in the fields of HR, including our senior HR Consultant, Jennifer Scott, along with our most recent additions of Talia Eisen and Lindsey Brown. We have continued to work with our highly talented group of contractors, from Liz Cornish, our amazing and talented executive coach, to Taya Levine, trainer/facilitator/coach extraordinaire.

On behalf of The HR Matrix team, we look forward to working with you in 2018!

Considerations For Your 2018 HR/OD Initiatives

  • HR Assessments & Audits. We can evaluate and optimize your HR infrastructure, staffing plans, processes and practices to ensure you are in compliance and that you are applying best practices that are customized to your company.
  • Employee Handbooks. We can update your handbook or create one from scratch. All our handbooks are customized to your company needs.
  • New Hire Forms Package. With new hire paperwork changing frequently, we provide employers with a comprehensive forms package to ensure compliance with local, state, and federal laws.
  • Increase your Employee Engagement (HR Matrix eiSurveys). Evaluate employee engagement within your company and discover what’s working well and opportunities for improvement.
  • Team 360. Help build mutual support, accountability, and leadership skills through a unique team-based experience for senior managers and above.
  • Compensation Plan Design. Creating fair and competitive salary structures is important for retaining and recruiting top talent in a highly competitive job market. We conduct salary surveys, develop pay ranges based on internal and external valuing, and help you design strategic pay practices that align with your business needs.
  • Organization Development. We believe the best solutions are the ones we figure out together. The HR Matrix team of skilled organization and management consultants will work with you, your business, and your team to identify the underlying dynamics, confront the issues, and work to improve systems with a focus on your goals. We’ll agree on a path that suits your needs—with buy-in and teamwork that delivers meaningful and lasting organizational improvement.
  • Coaching. Engage employees in learning and growth based on their own initiative and commitment, helping to build trust, cultivate communication, and hone planning and collaboration skills.
  • HR Consulting. Through onsite or virtual advice and consultation, we support all aspects of your organization’s Human Resources needs.
  • Search and Recruitment. Our expertise with both active and passive candidate sourcing give you the edge in finding qualified talent, especially for hard-to-fill or niche positions. As specialists in HR/OD, we understand the implications of company culture and organizational fit, resulting in more successful hires for you.

2018 Compliance Corner

Following are new employment laws that go into effect in California as of January 1, 2018. 

1. Parental Leave for Small Employers (20 or more employees)

SB 63, the New Parent Leave Act, requires employers with 20 or more employees to provide eligible new parents with up to 12 workweeks of unpaid protected leave to bond with their new child. The leave must be taken within one (1) year of the child’s birth, adoption, or foster care placement. This new leave only provides protected leave for baby bonding and does not require employers to provide leave for other purposes (e.g., an employee’s serious medical issue).

How does it impact your business? If you have between 20 to 49 employees, you will be required to provide protected baby bonding leave.

2. Ban-the-Box Law

AB 1008 prohibits employers who employ 5 or more employees from asking questions related to criminal history information at any time before a conditional offer of employment has been made. Only after the employer has made an offer can they seek criminal history information. There are exceptions for jobs that require background checks by law.

How does it impact your business? Employers should remove any questions on employment applications that relate to criminal history information, and may not ask about criminal history during the interview process. Ensure that background checks are only completed after a conditional offer has been made. Before an employer can deny employment based on criminal history, a specific process is must be followed. This process involves an assessment of the relevance of the crime to the job and written communication between the employer and the candidate.

3. Ban on Salary History

AB 168 prohibits California employers from asking about salary history or using such information when determining what pay to offer a candidate. This includes seeking current or past salary information whether in writing or verbally and includes compensation and benefits.

How does it impact your business? Employers should remove any salary history questions from their employment application and interview process. We recommend employers rely on market data and internal pay ranges to set pay, versus relying on salary history.

4. Immigrant Worker Protection Act

AB 450 provides employees with protection from immigration enforcement while on the job.

How does it impact your business? Employers are prohibited from giving immigration enforcement agents access to non-public areas of a business without a subpoena or judicial warrant. However, for review of Form I-9 or other documents related to employment eligibility status, only a Notice of Inspection is needed.

5. Harassment Prevention Training (For Employers with 50+ employees)

Employers with 50 or more employees are required to provide harassment training to managers and supervisors every two years, and within six months of someone becoming a new supervisor. As of 2018, the training must include information about harassment based on gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation

6. Minimum Wage

On January 1, 2018, California’s minimum wage increases to $10.50 per hour for employers with 25 or fewer employees and to $11 per hour for employers with 26 or more employees. If your business is within a city/county with a local minimum wage ordinance, be sure to check on the minimum wage requirements.

7. Whistleblower Retaliation Protections

SB 306 authorizes the Labor Commissioner’s office to investigate an employer when it suspects retaliation or discrimination during a wage claim or other investigation.

8.  Employee Assistance After Acts of Domestic Terrorism

AB 44 requires employers to provide employees who are injured in an act of domestic terrorism with immediate support from a nurse case manager. Note that this law applies only if the Governor declares a state of emergency in connection with the act of domestic terrorism.

9. Legalized Marijuana

Review existing policies to ensure clarity around expectations for this newly legalized drug and the workplace.

2018 Compliance Checklist

Parental Leave for Small Employers (20 or more employees)
❏  Provide up to 12 weeks of protected “baby bonding” leave time for pregnancy leaves
❏  Maintain existing benefits and continue to pay the employer’s share of the premiums for the duration of the leave, up to 12 workweeks. 

Ban-the-Box Law
❏  Remove any questions on employment applications that relate to criminal history information
❏  Don’t ask about criminal history during the interview process.
❏  Ensure that background checks are only completed after a conditional offer has been made.
❏  Follow required process before you deny employment based on criminal history.

Ban on Salary History
❏  Remove any salary history questions from your employment application and interview process.
❏  Ask candidates only their desired pay, not their current or past pay.
❏  Consider a compensation study to create market and internal based pay ranges.

Immigrant Worker Protection Act
❏  Ensure you have a warrant or subpoena before allowing immigration agents access to non-public areas of the business and a Notice of Inspection for review of I-9’s.

Harassment Prevention Training (For Employers with 50+ employees)
❏  Provide harassment training to managers and supervisors every two years, and within six months of someone becoming a new supervisor.
❏  Include the new 2018 protections in the training material.

Minimum Wage
❏  Audit your payroll reports; increase employees to the new 2018 Minimum Wage requirements.

Legalized Marijuana
❏  Review existing policies to ensure clarity around expectations for this newly legalized drug and the workplace.


Leadership & Development Coaching

Coaching is a collaborative process meant to engage individuals in learning and growth based on their own initiative and commitment, and aided by someone who can help support that process. In this way, leaders and staff alike, can further their desired growth goals, learn needed skills and attain new levels of understanding to support their professional development. 

Working with a coach takes determination. It also takes time. As we know, valuable learning includes practice, repetition, trial and error, and course-correction along the way. It takes time to develop new habits.

Coaching can help individuals:

  • Improve their ability to manage time
  • Reduce stress in work or personal life
  • Achieve better work-life balance
  • Gain skills to help them grow and develop
  • Improve relationships with colleagues
  • Understand what next steps in career may be needed and ways to get there

Our methodology typically includes:

  • Meet and establish format/expectations
  • Set goals and measures, create a plan or strategy
  • “Homework”
  • Reading
  • Observation
  • Reflection
  • Practice
  • Regular, scheduled meetings for a set amount of time and duration
  • Check ins to assess progress, adjust goals, determine effectiveness
  • Conclusions, evaluation, next steps/recommendations

Call us today and let us help you achieve your goals.

HR Reminders

  • Update your employment law posters and notices
  • File your OSHA 300 log by February 1st.
  • Ensure your employees’ address and contact information is up to date for W-2s and ACA forms.
  • The Employment Development Department (EDD) has several new pamphlets that will be released Jan 1, 2018. Ensure you are using the most current pamphlets.

If you have questions regarding these new laws or compliance with state and federal employment laws, or would like to discuss any of our HR, OD or Recruitment services, we are here to help.
Wishing you a happy new year!


The HR Matrix Team
(707) 526-0877



NorCal Fire Disaster – What Employers Should Know

In light of the recent fires and the devastation in our community, we are reaching out to our clients and friends. We have all been personally impacted in many ways, including Brenda Gilchrist, our Co-Founder, who lost her home to the fire. We want to support you in any way we can and are offering some strategies in response to questions we have received.

Here are some tips and considerations we hope are helpful for you during this difficult time:

Grace and compassion for affected employees
Even employees who have not sustained losses may be emotionally affected by the trauma of recent events. Mistakes may increase, tempers may be shorter. Extra communication and compassion from management can help to mitigate the effects of trauma for employees. For employees who are not able to function effectively, discuss time off or work flexibility options, if available. If you have an Employee Assistance Program, consider bringing a rep onsite to meet with employees. Pulling employees together for company-sponsored meals or other all staff events may help. Restoring a sense of normalcy and community helps people stabilize in an emotional and turbulent time. Other options include paid lunches and in house/onsite massages. MBWA – Managing by Walking Around – is even more important now. Your presence, your willingness to listen without judgement, and your emotional support are some of the most helpful things you can offer.

Managing donations in the workplace
Employers need to be careful about soliciting donations and should consult their own solicitation policies. If employers want to set up in-house donations for employees who lost homes in the fires, we recommend setting up online donation sites and providing a link to employees. Make it clear that participation is 100% voluntary and that all donations/amounts will be anonymous. Whoever administers the sites in-house should keep the donation information confidential. In situations where multiple employees are affected, another option is pooling the donations in a single drive and management allocating to affected employees as fairly as possible.

We have clients who are making very generous donations to employees who have lost their homes and others who simply cannot afford to. Communication and compassion will go a long way where financial contributions are not an option.

Paying employees when facilities are closed or hours reduced
Per CA law, employers are not required to pay non-exempt employees for hours not worked due to circumstances outside of the employer’s control. That said, many of our clients who can afford to do so are paying some or all wages to their hourly workers who did not work or had reduced hours during the first week of fire. Some are also covering some or all wages for even longer.

Employers must pay exempt employees their full weekly salary for any week in which any work is performed. If the business is closed for an entire week, employers do not have to pay exempt employees. The laws around deducting salary from an exempt employee’s salary are complex. We recommend you consult with us or legal counsel before making deductions from exempt employee salary.

Employees may be eligible for state or federal benefits (unemployment, disability or paid family leave) benefits for reduced or suspended hours or to care for themselves or an ill or injured family member. Employees may inquire and/or apply for benefits at the EDD (http://www.edd.ca.gov/ or eapply4ui.edd.ca.gov). The deadline for filing fire-related unemployment claims is November 16, 2017.

Many employers are not requiring the use of PTO for employees who are taking time off.

Donating vacation time or PTO to another employee
There are tax considerations for this practice that are suspended for major disaster scenarios; certain guidelines still apply. Employees may not claim this donation as a tax deduction.

Employers can add a temporary policy to their employee handbook that allows employees to donate time off (recommend vacation/PTO only), for employees who have to take time off due to loss of home or other impacts from the fires. Tax laws require employees to donate leave into a ‘pool’. Management can allocate as fairly as possible among affected employees. Donated hours may either pay out at the rate of pay for the recipient, or you can set up comparable dollar value plans, e.g., two $30/hrs donated = one $60/hr or four $15/hrs. We recommend:

  • putting this policy in writing
  • limiting donations to a maximum of five days
  • prohibiting donations that would bring the donor’s balance to less than five days
  • no cashing out of donated time
  • only employees who are normally eligible for time off benefits can receive donations
  • closing out this temporary policy after a limited period, e.g. 30 days.
Time off for impacted employees
You may consider granting additional paid or unpaid time off to employees who are impacted if you can afford to do so. Additionally, some of your liability insurance policies may provide temporary wage replacement, which can be applied accordingly. Employees may use CA sick leave to care for themselves or a family member who is ill or injured, by the fires or otherwise. Employers who are covered by the Family Medical Leave Act should be aware that it covers absences for illness or injury due to disasters, or to care for an affected family member. Employees who are temporarily disabled may qualify for ADA accommodations or state disability benefits.

In addition to paid or unpaid time off, consider allowing flexibility to employees work schedules. Many employees may need to tend to their own personal matters or support family and/or friends over the coming weeks. Others may want to volunteer their time to support the community. Allowing flexibility shows employees you are willing to help them and support the community through this difficult time.

Unfortunately, several of our clients had all or portions of their operations destroyed, resulting in the need to eliminate positions and layoff employees. We know this is very hard to do, particularly if you may need those staff at a later date for when the business is operational again. One option is to create a furlough program for staff you operationally need to retain. This option allows employees to stay employed, usually retain health insurance benefits**, and they can apply for temporary unemployment benefits.
If you do not foresee a short-term need to have staff come back to work within the next 1-2 months, a layoff may be the only option. If so, severance offered by employers is not legally required, however, if you can afford to do so, the standard is 1-2 weeks of pay for each year of service up to a maximum of 1-3 months. If you offer severance, we highly recommend tying it to a signed general release. We can provide this document, for a fee, or you can inquire through your legal counsel.
**Your plan documents will determine under what circumstances you may continue benefits, and for how long. Consult with your broker prior to offering to extend benefits for employees who are not working.

Illness & Injury Prevention Plans and Emergency Action Plans
Most CA employers are required to have both plans. More information is available at Cal/OSHA.

Food for Thought
The following thread from the Santa Rosa Firestorm Update Facebook group has some creative ideas to support your employees and the community. Action should be carefully planned out with your HR team or professional consultants.
*  *  *  *  *
We understand the impact of catastrophic events is unpredictable and will continue to unfold for some time. If we can be of assistance, please let us know.


Posted in HR Matrix News/Press, HUMAN RESOURCES

Important Employment Forms & Regulation Changes – August 2017

Following is information to help you stay informed about changes that may affect your HR & employment practices. August 2017 

Form I-9: Employers must use the updated Form I-9, issued in July and required by 9/18/17. This is the second I-9 update in less than a year so be sure you’re using the most current form. Available in both electronic and paper versions, the forms and instructions may be obtained at the USCIS website:

Updated DFEH & EDD Notices
The following new hire brochures have been updated. Employers should replace prior versions with these:

CA Domestic Violence Requirements
Employers with 25 or more employees are now required to provide notices to new hires and employees regarding obligations for victims of domestic violence. A model notice is available from the labor commissioner. Certain healthcare and janitorial employers have additional requirements to protect employees from workplace violence and/or harassment.

CA HIPP Notices
Employers are required to provide HIPP notices (Health Insurance Premium Payment) at time of termination. COBRA administrators often include this notice with the COBRA package. Otherwise, include with other termination paperwork. HIPP notice

Ban the Box
The trend to prohibit criminal conviction history inquiries on employment applications is increasing nationwide. Employers should entirely remove these inquiries from applications where prohibited. If your location is still permitted to inquire, add an exclusion clause: “Please do not include misdemeanor convictions for marijuana-related offenses that are more than two years old, infractions, records relating to diversion programs, convictions that have been judicially dismissed, expunged or sealed, or any convictions or actions by a juvenile court.” Health care facilities have fewer restrictions on the juvenile and misdemeanor checks.

Restroom Signage
Businesses with single-user (1-stall) toilet facilities must identify them as “all-gender”.



2017 Updated Forms

It’s time to update forms…
Form I-9: Effective 1/22/17 employers must use the updated Form I-9. Available in both electronic and paper versions, the forms and instructions may be obtained at the USCIS website:

A 2017 W-4 is available from the IRS website: https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/fw4.pdf

Handbook Updates 

The New Year is a great time to ensure your policies are current and effectively supporting your culture, mission and expectations. Let us know if we can help with a handbook review and update.


HR Matrix Celebrates 10-year Anniversary


The HR Matrix is proud to announce its 10-year anniversary in Sonoma County! We are deeply gratified to have earned the trust and patronage of so many wonderful clients.

Top Ten Insights

Reflecting back, here are ten key insights that have continued to surface over the years:

New! HR Matrix Team Member:

Talia Eisen joined the firm in June as our Senior Organization Development consultant and executive coach who specializes in helping teams move through complex change, growth and conflict. Click here for more information about Talia and her unique skillset and talents.



NewHR Matrix eiSurvey – Employee Engagement

Brenda Gilchrist, Partner of The HR Matrix, expert in Employee Engagement Surveys and Action Planning, launches a new technology platform that provides a robust engagement survey dashboard to gain insight into the hearts and minds of employees,while giving leaders and managers immediate access to survey results to improve their level of employee engagement.

eiSurvey Results

Critical insight into organizational dynamics and the ability to pinpoint areas for improvement

Improved productivity, retention, customer satisfaction, safety and profitability

Learn what’s in the hearts and minds of your employees

Unlike other survey approaches, HR Matrix creates custom questions for clients and trains managers how to create an engaged workplace.

Brenda and her team will facilitate action planning sessions with employee groups,giving them a forum to be heard and to have an impact on the organization, a key factor in engaging employees!

Andall the survey responses are anonymous! Resulting in higher response rates and more honest answers.

Click here to read more about the eiSurvey platform and approach or contact Brenda Gilchrist at707-526-0877 x11 or Brenda@thehrmatrix.com for more information.

Employers that participate in an eiSurvey on or before March 31, 2017, will receive a full report reflecting how they compare to other eiSurvey participants.

Posted in HR Matrix News/Press

2016 HR Updates

As we head toward the end of 2016, we want you to be aware of several new laws,  changes and reminders for California employers. We wish all of you a great Q4 and look forward to working with you in 2017!

1. Federal white collar exemptions (executive, professional and administrative & computer professional) salary requirement rise to $47,476 (effective 12/1/16): Employers will need to analyze their salaried jobs to ensure they still meet exemption salary requirements –or transition the employees to non-exempt status and pay overtime. Note that 12/1 is a Thursday, so employers will need to make changes for the payroll period in which December 1 falls (if needed). The new rules allow non-discretionary bonuses, incentive payments and commissions to count for up to 10% of the minimum salary, provided these amounts are paid at least quarterly.

We continue to see employers struggle with employee classification issues and the pains of labor claims for back overtime and break penalties. The HR Matrix can help you ensure your classifications are correct. Contact us for more information on our FLSA review services.

2. Harassment policies (effective 4/1/16): Employers with five or more  employees in California, policies must now contain the following:

  • List all protected groups under the FEHA
  • Allow employees to report to someone other than a direct supervisor
  • Instruct supervisors to report all complaints to a designated party
  • State that all complaints will be followed by a fair, complete and timely investigation and that the employer will maintain confidentiality to the extent possible
  • State that remedial action will be taken if any misconduct is found
  • State that employees will not be retaliated against for complaining or participating in an investigation
  • State that supervisors, co-workers, and third-parties are prohibited from engaging in unlawful behavior under the FEHA
  • Employers must distribute written policies to current and future employees. If 10% or more of the workers in a given location speak a language other than English, an employer must also translate its policies into those alternative languages.

3. Employment posters – There were several updates to federal and state posters this year. We recommend all employers update their all-in-one posters with no later than the 1/1/17 versions.

4. Employment applications – Our attorneys are advising us to remove the “have you ever been convicted” question from applications, and make offers contingent on background checks. If your company has an established background/drug check policy, we suggest noting that in recruitment ads and job applications.

5. Minimum Wage – Goes up to $11.00 per hour on 1/1/17.

6. Notice re Employment Protections for Victims of Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, or Stalking – the Labor Commission will be providing a new required posting on this current law in early 2017.


  • ACA reporting: Qualified large employer reporting is due by February 28th.
  • Arbitration Agreements: We strongly recommend updating existing arbitration agreements with an attorney, if they are more than two years old.
  • OSHA 300 Log: Most employers who had over ten employees during the prior year must post the annual OSHA 300A summary by February 1st.
  • Overtime Calculations: We continue to see clients struggle with accurately calculating overtime for employees who with multiple rates. Employees who earn wages at more than one rate must have overtime calculated on a “regular rate of pay,” which includes all wages, non-discretionary bonus and commission earned during the workweek, divided by the number of hours worked.
  • ERISA Compliance: Employers who offer health insurance benefits are obligated to comply with ERISA requirements and provide a Wrap Summary Plan Description (SPD) to employees. Some brokers and various Third Party Administrators can provide this document for employers.
  • Commuter Benefits: Employers with more than 50 employees in Santa Rosa are subject to the Bay Area Commuter Benefits program requirements.
  • AB 1825 – Sexual harassment and anti-bullying training for CA supervisors is required for employers with over 50 employees in the state or nationwide. Training must be provided every two years, and within six months of an employee becoming a supervisor. HR Matrix Solution: The HR Matrix provides a custom and engaging interactive training that will ensure you meet the requirements of providing sexual harassment training. (Includes new requirements on bullying.) Contact Us for more information



2015-2016 Employment Law Updates

Greetings! As we head toward the end of 2015, we want you to be aware of several new laws, changes and reminders for California employers. We wish all of you a great holiday season and look forward to working with you in 2016!

New in 2016:

  • SB 358 – Gender Equal Pay – Amends the state labor code to ensure equal pay to both genders for jobs of comparable skill/effort/responsibility and working conditions. To minimize legal exposure, employers will need to be sure their pay practices are justifiable and consistent across comparable jobs even in different locations. Factors that allow for potentially legal differentials include seniority, experience/education level, and performance. Location can be a factor, but there would need to be a justifiable reason, such as cost of living. SB 358 comes with a “no retaliation” provision to protect employees who invoke this amendment. Employers are advised to review their compensation programs –grouping comparable positions and analyzing pay and differential factors. HR Matrix Solution: The HR Matrix has expertise in reviewing and designing competitive compensation plans. We can evaluate your current pay practices to ensure you comply with SB 358. Beyond basic compliance, we conduct salary surveys to obtain statistically valid marketplace data to determine if your pay is competitive. We offer variance analysis to determine if you risk losing employees to the market or may fail to attract new talent. We design pay structures, including new or updated pay bands, along with evaluating and recommending creative compensation and bonus programs that will motivate and reward your employees.  Contact Brenda Gilchrist to discuss your compensation needs.
  • California Minimum Wage goes up to $10/hour.
  • CA Overtime Exemption Salary Requirements will increase accordingly from $37440 to $41600 as of 1/1/16.
  • FLSA Proposed Changes – The FLSA is getting ready to announce revised requirements for employees to qualify for overtime exemptions. One of the most likely changes will be an increase of the minimum salary requirement from its current California level of $37,440 to $50,440. The decision is expected in early 2016. If this passes, Employers will need to analyze their salaried jobs to ensure they still meet exemption requirements –or transition the employees to non-exempt status and pay overtime.
  • School Activities Leave for employers with more than 25 employees now includes, “time off to find a school or a licensed child care provider and to enroll or re-enroll a child, or to address child care provider or school emergencies.” Update handbooks and policies accordingly.
  • AB 1513 – Employers who pay employees using piece-rate formulas will have new pay and tracking requirements.

From 2015:

  • AB 1825 – Anti-Bullying Provision – Under AB 1825 sexual harassment training for CA supervisors is required for employers with over 50 employees in the state or nationwide. Training must be provided every two years, and within six months of an employee becoming a supervisor. Effective this past January, all mandated sexual harassment training for supervisors must include a segment on bullying or abusive conduct. Although bullying is not yet illegal in CA, the training to prevent it is legally required. HR Matrix Solution: The HR Matrix provides a custom and  engaging training that will ensure you meet the requirements of providing sexual harassment training, which also includes the new requirements. Contact Us for more information.
  • AB 987 & EEOC rulings – Enhanced discrimination and retaliation protections: Employers are prohibited from retaliating or discriminating against an employee requesting accommodation of his or her disability or religious beliefs, regardless of whether the accommodation request was granted. In addition, employers may not discriminate against an applicant based on a ‘suspected need’ for accommodation.
  • AB 304 – Amendments to the CA Required Sick Leave – makes provisions for employers to accrue the leave by pay period versus per one hour for every thirty worked, as long as the accrual meets the minimum requirements.
  • The National Labor Relations Board is continuing to target non-union employers who may be perceived as restricting employees from organizing. Handbooks and policies should not attempt to over-govern behavior inside or outside of the workplace.



  • ACA reporting: Qualified large employer reporting is due by 2/28/16.
  • Arbitration Agreements: We strongly recommend updating existing arbitration agreements.
  • OSHA 300 Log: Most employers who had over ten employees during the prior year must post the annual OSHA 300A summary by February 1st.
  • Overtime Calculations: We had several clients this year that struggled with accurately calculating overtime. Remember that employees who earn wages at more than one rate must have overtime calculated on a “regular rate of pay,” which includes all wages, non-discretionary bonus and commission earned during the workweek, divided by the number of hours worked.
  • ERISA Compliance: Employers who offer health insurance benefits are obligated to comply with ERISA requirements and provide a Wrap Summary Plan Description (SPD) to employees. Some brokers and various Third Party Administrators can provide this document for employers. There are significant penalties if an employee requests an SPD and the employer does not comply.
  • Commuter Benefits: Employers with more than 50 employees in Santa Rosa are subject to the Bay Area Commuter Benefits program requirements.
  • Paystub Additions: Paystubs must now include sick leave balances.


The HR Matrix Expands to Help Employers’ With Tight Labor Market

New Talent Acquisition Service Helps Employers Find Talent

SANTA ROSA, CA — With the tightening economy, employers are facing a hiring climate they haven’t seen in years: too many open positions and not enough qualified applicants. According to the Sonoma County Economic Development Board’s 2015 Sonoma County Indicators Report, the local unemployment rate is lower than the state average, the U.S. National average, and one of the lowest among comparable counties.

The HR Matrix is supporting organizations in addressing this tight labor market by expanding its Search and Recruitment capabilities, offering clients a flexible model to support hiring efforts.  While other firms offer recruiting on a contingent or retained basis, the HR Matrix has added an hourly model and a ‘capped fee’ solution to provide flexibility and affordability. “We have found many of our clients already have some internal hiring resources, or they want to retain control of the process. We complement their efforts so they can focus attention on selecting and developing those candidate who are a fit for the role,” said Gary Hochman, partner and co-founder of The HR Matrix.

In this competitive labor market, companies are employing new strategies to attract and hire needed talent. Speed and focus are two variables that make a difference.  “Top candidates expect an engaged recruiting process, one that actively communicates to them that the company cares about their time and expertise. We help companies create a great candidate experience and we don’t rely solely on job ads to find talent. We source quality candidates through our extensive research process, which has proven to be the most successful way to fill positions,” said Brenda Gilchrist, partner and co-founder of The HR Matrix.

Mary Beth Ludwig, Co-Founder/COO of Anova Education in Santa Rosa said, “The HR Matrix is the ultimate business person’s matchmaker! The HR Matrix took time to understand Anova’s unique needs as well as we do, and combined that understanding with a deep knowledge of human behavior to match talents with opportunities. Our entire administrative team is a creation of the HR Matrix’s unique insights into human potential. Anova’s most important resource is its people and the staff at HR Matrix know how to find unique personalities that can complement each other, creating amazing synergies for our customers and efficiencies for Anova.”

About The HR Matrix

The HR Matrix (www.TheHRMatrix.com) is a human resources, organization development and search firm. The HR Matrix services include HR advice and consultation, employment law compliance, engagement surveys, HR audits, employee handbooks, compensation surveys and plan designs, change leadership, performance management systems, business process improvement, teambuilding, training and development and facilitation services. For new clients, contact Jennifer Scott at 707-526-0877 (PST).




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Popular Services – 2015

A few of our programs were especially popular with clients this year:

1. HR Assessments & Audits – scalable services to help you evaluate and optimize your HR staffing structure and skill sets, HR processes and practices as well as full compliance audits.

2. Team 360 – this program helps to build mutual support, accountability and leadership skills through a unique team-based experience designed for senior managers and above.

3. Employee Engagement Surveys – to evaluate and build employee engagement within your company. Discover strengths, areas for concern and opportunities for improvement

4. Sourcing and Recruitment – our specialized research and passive candidate sourcing and screening helps you find and hire the talent you need to make your organization successful.

To inquire about any of these services, feel free to contact us by email or call us at (707) 526-0877.


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