Friends and former colleagues provide HR expertise to small businesses.
From the pages of In Business magazine.
Timing is everything.
After watching the flurry of new business activity around the area, former Food Fight Restaurant Group colleagues Amy Carrick, 39, and Ginny Jenkins, 37, decided there was no time like the present to launch their own human resources firm.
The friends started Mindful HR LLC on Feb. 1 with a mission to help small and mid-sized businesses establish a legal and solid footing onto which they can build a safe, competitive business poised for growth.
Carrick and Jenkins, who have experience both inside and outside the corporate world, provide HR services to companies that often do not have the resources to hire their own expert.
“We see companies pull employee handbooks off the internet or have attorneys create them,” Jenkins notes, adding that such duties, particularly at small companies with 10 or fewer employees, are often assigned to non-HR staff members.
“We’re hoping to fill those gaps,” Carrick adds. “With unemployment so low right now, employers need to stay competitive if they want to attract quality employees.”
Carrick hails from Iowa and taught high school Spanish before moving to Wisconsin in 2003. She earned a Senior Professional in Human Resources certificate and specializes in training, development, and employee relations.
Jenkins grew up in the Chicago area before moving to Wisconsin in 2007. A senior certified professional in human resources, she has over 15 years of experience working with organizations of all sizes. “My passion is really the law behind wage and hour compliance,” she states.
In the current labor environment — and particularly in the service industries — employees have the upper hand, Carrick explains, which puts pressure on employers to meet their needs. “Everyone’s trying to be competitive or pay well. It’s up to businesses to set themselves apart.”
The owners and business partners have mindfully developed a five-tier model to help businesses establish a solid foundation.
It all begins with the legal requirements. First and foremost, companies must meet basic obligations such as payroll, wage and hour compliance, and annual reporting requirements. “If you don’t have the right things in place, one audit and you could lose your entire business,” Jenkins warns.
Tiers two through five build on that, focusing on safety (job descriptions and workplace policies); employee engagement (performance reviews and career development); culture and training; and strategies for growth (succession plans, diversity, and inclusion).
“The biggest issue right now is having a respectful and safe workplace, and training managers and employees,” Jenkins reminds. “The #MeToo movement is not going away, so owners need to lead by example, which leads to employee engagement and trust.”
Carrick agrees. “I’ve always maintained that if you’re not happy at work, you’re not happy, period, and Madison right now is brutal in terms of turnover.”
Just five months in, they’re doing project work for a handful of clients, particularly around handbooks and harassment policies, and networking as much as possible. They’ve connected with the Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corp. (WWBIC) and the Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE), and they have solicited other professional advice and resources.
The women funded Mindful HR themselves, and Carrick expects the company will cross into the black later this year. In the meantime, they’re working out of their homes to keep overhead low. Three years from now they hope to have an office where they can offer HR training and give back to the community as a small businesses resource.
As friends and business partners, they have no regrets. “We both share the same values, but we’re very different from each other,” Carrick admits. “If you want to go into business with someone, you have to share the same values.”
Jenkins concurs. “And trust. We trust each other and have each other’s best interests in mind.”
Mindful HR LLC
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