Message from the Founder

It is with mixed emotion that I announce my retirement from The Hopkins Group after 17 years.  Founding and working to grow The Hopkins Group into a successful, highly regarded Human Resources Consulting and Outsourcing group has been singularly rewarding. However, this success came not solely from me, by any means! The outstanding consultants at THG are the real success. So, as I move into the next phase of my life, it is with sincere appreciation for the excellent THG consultants and marvelous clients, and excitement about the future under the new leadership of People Workplaces dba The Hopkins Group.   The same amazing consultants remain to continue supporting our current clients and welcome the opportunity to serve new clients.  Nothing changes – not even the name!

Please accept my sincere thanks for these past years, and my very best wishes for the future!

Warmest regards,

Karen M. Hopkins

The Hopkins Group announces the merger with People Workplaces, LLC, Expanding Market Expertise

(BUSINESS WIRE)- Dec. 15, 2019 – The Hopkins Group, a leading HR Consulting Firm in the greater North Texas area announces a merger with People Workplaces, LLC, headquartered in Houston, Texas. The Hopkins Group was founded in 2004 and currently provides strategic HR consulting and outsourcing services to small to mid-sized businesses nationally.

THG was established to provide management services to businesses and business owners as a scalable solution to reduce their HR administrative burden while focusing on growing their business. THG has a strong and diverse consulting team with extensive experience in a variety of specialty areas and has serviced markets, including energy, transportation, education, commercial, technology, oil and gas, hospitality, and healthcare.

THG will continue to build on its capabilities and stellar reputation for delivering high quality, high touch and customizable solutions in partnership with its clients. The addition of People Workplaces is an exciting and transformative addition to the THG team and builds on the strategic alignment and shared vision of growing a dynamic human capital consulting firm. The market expertise that People Workplaces brings to the THG team further expands the advisory and consulting talent that THG provides to a number of industries.

Robin Jones will continue as the firm’s Group Leader and Managing Director, working directly with Melanie Toliver who will assume the role of President. Additionally, Karen Hopkins, Founder, will remain as an advisor to the firm.

Finally! New DoL Overtime and Salary Rules

The Department of Labor has released the final rules regarding pay and overtime requirements. This rule was proposed during the Obama Administration and has been in litigation since then.  However, we now know several important findings:

  1. The new salary minimum for exempt employees is $35,568 annually or $684 per week.
  2. The “duties” test for the Fair Labor Standards Act must be followed.
  3. As previously, job titles do not meet the requirement for exempt/salaried status.
  4. Highly compensated employee cap is now $107,432 annually. Part of that total may include, in some instances, incentives, bonuses, etc.
  5. These changes become effective January 1, 2020.

It has taken 10 years to effect this change. The DOL has committed to more frequent updates to the thresholds in the future, although no specific timeline was stated.

So, what does an employer need to do?  All job descriptions and pay for each position should be reviewed to determine what changes are required and for which employees.  Positions that will move to exempt or from exempt to non-exempt must be reviewed and decisions made regarding communicating this change to each affected employee.   It may not be good news for some.

The team at The Hopkins Group is ready to assist companies as they make these decisions and move into compliance with the DOL by the upcoming deadline. We can provide a complete audit with necessary revisions to job descriptions and assist in planning for and communicating any changes in compensation and pay structure for affected employees.  The new year is rapidly approaching so contact us right away!

Sexual Harrassment

Protect Your Company and Yourself

One cannot read a newspaper, magazine, or electronic media without being exposed to information about the ever-expanding list of inappropriate and even egregious workplace behavior in the form of sexual harassment. In this heightened environment, there is the danger of jumping to hasty conclusions in response to claims of harassment.

This is not to say that harassment is not a pervasive problem in America’s workplaces – and beyond. While this situation must be changed, it must be addressed and changed appropriately or we may find ourselves jumping from the frying pan into the fire.

So, how to address this issue in the workplace? Firstly, organizations must have a clearly written and well communicated policy describing what harassment looks like, stating the company’s stance on harassing behaviors (zero tolerance), the ways in which employees can report such behaviors, as well as the employees’ responsibility to report such behavior, and how the organization will respond to such behavior in the form of a thorough investigation. If your organization does not have such a policy, do not delay in developing one. One caveat – if you are not going to follow the policy faithfully, it will do you no good.

Next, there must be effective, interactive training for both employees and managers (separate sessions) communicating the policy, reporting means, and responses. This is not a one-time event – it must be regularly delivered and well documented. It should also be communicated in your company’s Employee Handbook.

There must be a process for investigating claims of harassing behavior and it must be faithfully followed. This step may not be skipped, regardless of how egregious the complaint. In some cases, engaging an independent third party to conduct the investigation communicates that there will be an impartial decision regarding the outcome. While investigations should be conducted promptly, speed should not take precedence over a thorough and fair investigation. Thorough documentation of all interviews and actions is critical in the event the issue goes to court.

The culture in the organization is of paramount importance. Senior leadership must not only be committed to a harassment free workplace, but they must also model the best behavior. There must also be the willingness to follow the policy regardless of the position in the company of a harassing employee.

Harassment costs organizations millions of dollars – not just in settlement and legal fees, but in reputation, in the loss of excellent employees who chose to leave a toxic environment, and a demoralized workforce. Careers are irrevocably damaged. It’s a high cost to pay for bad behavior that has been tolerated for far too long.

New I-9 Form Will Be Released in November; Current Form Is OK Until 1/21/17

The newest version of the Form I-9 will be available by Nov. 22, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Employers may continue using the current version of Form I-9 until Jan. 21, 2017.