Feb 27

Student Games 2018

A National SHRM survey and review found that college students wanted more job placement resources and networking events, and help connecting with local professional SHRM chapters. Traditionally, a National Student Competition event was held, but after discovering future HR professionals had a desire for a more local focus, State Councils were encouraged to offer statewide competitions.

The HR Florida State Council has embraced the need fully and paired the Student Games Case Competition with its Leadership Conference. The council’s  goal is to help students develop meaningful networking relationships and elevate the importance of their contribution to the future of the HR profession. The Leadership Conference is attended by more than 300 HR career leaders and trend setters who make up the leadership of the 28 local SHRM chapters in the state of Florida.

This year, the HR Florida Student Games attracted seven teams from Florida State University, University of Texas, University of Central Florida, Florida Institute of Technology (2 teams) and the University of South Florida/St. Pete College. All the students who participated are passionate about HR and, more notably, are the future of the profession.

Each team was challenged to respond with a solution to a case study regarding generational differences called “Generational Turbulence at Pioneer Airlines.” Teams were provided background information, research resources, guidance and coaching on how to put their HR learning into action, and how to perform a proper investigation and strategize plan needs. Upon completion, they present their plans to the judges.

This year’s judges included Eric Scott Bowers, VP of human resources/consultant at LassiterWare Inc. & Great Advice, Inc.; Wesley Paul,  assistant hospital administrator of LifeStream Behavioral Center; Lynda L. Rodriguez, east regional human resources manager for L&R Group of Companies; Heide Bostelmann, HR Consultant; Teresa Beckta, area human resource manager for the Lane Construction Corporation; and Jeffery E. Bryson, software and systems engineer for Northrup Grumman Corporation.

Tasked with reviewing the work of seven teams in only one day, the judges came early and stayed late during the first day of the leadership conference to ensure each team received full consideration. It was difficult to decide, but the panel of judges selected the top two teams – Florida International University and Florida State University.

Here is what the students had to say about the competition:

Florida International University

“It was amazing and we learned so much about HR during the process.  The judges were great and the questions were great.  Thank you so much for this opportunity.”






Florida State University

“It was really cool to have the opportunity to be around HR professionals, to have the opportunity to work on problems and to take our knowledge from the classroom and apply it into the role. People always say that you know you won’t survive in the boardroom without the experience you need to use theory, and practicing your knowledge to be successful; so this truly was an amazing opportunity. The case competition pushed us to use our skills, and talents. We had the opportunity to solve real-world problems and provide feedback. It has been awesome – thank you.”

Florida State University won the opportunity to present their solution during lunch on Saturday to the HR Leadership conference attendees. This honor placed these future HR pros directly in front of potential employers, and they were ready to impress as they presented their solution with ease and professionalism.


This year, the HR Florida State Council will make the call for participation in November for the 2019 games. The council strongly encourages student HR chapters sign up a team and be a part of the games. For more information, please visit http://www.hrflorida.org/?page=186

“Thank you to the judges and all other council members who helped make this competition possible – it is your support, guidance and knowledge that helps fuel the young minds of those who are already making a positive impact in the HR profession,” said Marty Bryson, secretary of the HR Florida State Council. “Additionally, I wanted to thank the students that participated in the competition. You inspire everyone you touch with your energy and bright ideas – I know you all are destined for greatness.”

Pictured above: the 2018 student games participants and Marty Bryson, HR Florida State Council secretary.


Feb 06

Going Beyond Global: The Journey to Mars and the Ultimate Expatriate Experience

Our world faces many tremendous challenges that will only be solved through international collaboration. The stemming of geopolitical conflict, global climate change, and world-wide health crises all will require the pooling of intellect and resources across national borders. However, perhaps no challenge is greater than extending the reach of humanity beyond the planet Earth through the colonization of Mars.

Traveling to Mars, our nearest neighbor, is no drive around the block. A one way trip to Mars will cover at least 33 million miles and the effects of micro-gravity and radiation will take a tremendous toll on the physical health of the astronauts (Reschke et al., 1998). In addition, close proximity to others, stress and boredom, and the journey into the unknown will test the limits of the most resilient individuals (Kanas et al., 2009).

But like the explorers and expatriates on Earth, the trip to Mars will be just the beginning.  The minimum time for a round trip to the Red planet will be 1000 days. Plans from space legend Buzz Aldrin and billionaire Elon Musk call for the permanent colonization of Mars, where some astronauts never come home. When arriving on Mars the first challenges will be disorientation and lack of sleep due to the lingering effects of microgravity. The astronauts will then be overwhelmed by a demanding workload to establish safe and habitable conditions, and finally, encounter the stress that arises from being isolated from family and friends and a restricted social contacts due to a small crew.

The symptoms experienced by Mars astronauts will look very familiar to those who have lived and worked abroad. The expatriate experience is often categorized by disorientation, sleep irregularities, home sickness, and lack of social stimulation (Ernst, 2016; Xu & Jordan, 2016). In many ways travel to Mars is no more than an extreme case of expatriation. Earthly expatriates and Mars astronauts will also share one of the greatest challenges of leaving home; understanding, predicting, and interacting with others from a different cultural background. The Mars mission will undoubtedly be an international endeavor that will utilize the talents of a culturally diverse support team which will need to innovate and problem solve in real time to support the crews traveling to an inhabit their new home. The crew members themselves will be culturally diverse, likely comprised of astronauts from Russia, China, Japan, the U.S., and other partner nations.

While the public messaging has suggested that overt conflict has not occurred on the international space station, stories from training suggest international conflict is a valid concern. Judith Lapierre served as a health sciences specialist on Sphinx-99, an International Space Station simulation. She reported that cultural differences in interpersonal interactions between the sexes caused great tension and ultimately led to a fist fight that bloodied the kitchen area of the capsule (Lapierre, 2009). In my work with the Mars mission through the Institute for Cross Cultural Management and the Buzz Aldrin Space Institute, I have heard many stories of strong disagreements over cultural norms of food, smells, hygiene, and communication. These cultural stressors will be the new normal for the expatriate crew to Mars.

In March of 2018, we will be joined by cultural experts such as Fons Trompenaars, Vas Taras, Michele Gelfand at the 2018 Cross Cultural Management Summit. In addition, participants at the Summit will take what they have learned and work together to solve case studies provided by the Buzz Aldrin Space Institute (BASI). These solutions will help inform the research agenda of BASI, and perhaps one day make the ultimate expatriate experience on Mars seem a little bit more like home.

HR Florida is proud to partner with the Florida Institute of Technology’s Cross Culture Management Summit.  We believe in continuing to provide professional development in global and cross cultural expertise.   As part of our partnership we have received deep discounted pricing for our HR Florida professionals and recertification credits.

Join us at the 2018 Cross Cultural Management Summit – March 22-24, 2018 – Caribe Royale Resort – Orlando Florida.






Dr. Griffith is the Executive Director of The Institute for Cross Cultural Management at the Florida Institute of Technology. Dr. Griffith provides coaching in global leadership and executive presentations, specializing in presentations conducted abroad. He is the co-editor of “Leading Global Teams”, “Critical Issues in Cross Cultural Management” and “Internationalizing the Organizational Psychology Curriculum”. He is the author of over 100 publications, presentations, and book chapters and has conducted funded research for the Department of Defense examining the assessment and development of cross-cultural competence. His work has been featured in Time magazine and The Wall Street Journal.




Ernst, W. (2016). On Being Insane in Alien Places: Case Histories from British India, c. 1800–1930. In Migration and Mental Health (pp. 61-84). Palgrave Macmillan UK.

Kanas, N., Sandal, G., Boyd, J. E., Gushin, V. I., Manzey, D., North R, Leon GR, Suedfeld P, Bishop S, Fiedler ER, Inoue N (2009). Psychology and culture during long-duration space missions. Acta Astronautica, 64(7), 659-677.

Lapierre, J., Bouchard, S., Martin, T., & Perreault, M. (2009). Transcultural group performance in extreme environment: Issues, concepts and emerging theory. Acta Astronautica, 64(11), 1304-1313.

Reschke, M.F., Bloomberg, J.J., Harm, D.L., Paloski, W.H., Layne, C., & McDonald, V. (1998) Posture, locomotion, spatial orientation, and motion sickness as a function of space flight. Brain Research Reviews 28  102–117.

Xu, Q., & Jordan, L. (2016). Migration, labor market and wellbeing: Theories, policies and practice. MIGRANT WORKERS, 2.


Jan 31

Seize Opportunities for Personal and Professional Development

Luck is a matter of preparation meeting opportunity. – Seneca

We all get lucky breaks in our life and our career. I’ve found that most of my luck comes from being in the right place at the right time, or knowing the right people. The decisions I’ve made along the way have helped me get to those situations.  I’ve gotten most of my jobs through people I know and had opportunities to impact my community and my profession through my willingness to say yes and show up. I have a career that I enjoy and that allows me to spend enough time with family and in pursuit of my extracurricular activities. In short, I think I’ve been pretty lucky. Here are a few of my tips:


  1. The more you know…
    The more people that is. One of my lucky breaks came a few years at a local professional association holiday luncheon. I was approached by an acquaintance to step outside for a chat. Turns out, she was retiring soon and wanted me to apply. At the time, I was six months pregnant and not really looking for another opportunity. But, I applied anyway (see tip #2), showed up for the interview wearing my most professional looking maternity suit (no way to hide the belly at that stage), and started my new job about four months later, after delivering my baby. If I hadn’t been approached, I would have never known about the prospect. I wasn’t actively looking for a new opportunity, but one found me. And the hours and benefits turned out to be just what I needed. Being involved in professional associations has given me the opportunity to interact with many leaders in my community and my profession, opening doors for informational conversations, mentorships, and job opportunities. When you network, you are able to build professional relationships which can open doors and provide a wealth of informal knowledge.
  2. Say YES!
    So many articles I read talk about saying no to commitments to help manage your time and focus your energies. While I agree with saying no sometimes, I almost always support saying YES! Say yes to take on that big project, say yes to go to that networking event, say yes to volunteering a few hours of your time to a worthy cause. Some of my best experiences have come because I said yes, when I really wanted to say no. I have met incredible people, learned amazing things, and helped out my community in ways that I could not have imagined. I said yes, when they asked me to join the local HR professional association board (four years later, I said yes to being President). By saying YES to be the volunteer Diversity Director for HR Florida, I have been able to work on a wonderful project aimed at reducing the stigma of mental illness in the workplace (#StigmaFreeFlorida). I said yes to take on a project revising our organization’s performance management system; now that we have a strong foundation, we can make further progress by implementing succession planning and growth opportunities in development plans.  (I also recently said yes to being a Girl Scout Troop Co-Leader with my daughter’s troop even though I have no idea what I’m doing!) Our willingness to act determines what we can accomplish. By all means, protect your family time, protect your “me” time, but say YES every chance you get.
  3. Be Present
    If we are always looking at past accomplishes or mistakes, or focusing on future plans, we miss the opportunities in front of us now. Focusing on the present, we can see good luck in our daily lives and act on it. A chance encounter with a senior executive in the elevator? Engage them in conversation or ask for a quick piece of advice. Free at lunch? Invite out a colleague or someone you work with in a different department. Focus on people whom you interact with frequently. Take the opportunity to learn more about them and their role in the organization. Listen to them, really listen, and build relationships. Don’t focus on what went wrong with last week’s presentation – work today to make your next presentation better. Put your good intentions into practice. Yesterday is gone and tomorrow is not yet here. But starting today, you can build your own luck. When we free our mind from regrets and worries, we open ourselves up to what is right in front of us.

For lucky opportunities to come into our lives, we must be ready and willing to accept them. Preparing ourselves, by saying yes to learning opportunities and actively building our networks, is part of being ready. Paying attention to events in our daily lives can help us recognize good fortune when it arrives. Sometimes, it takes work (like turning coal into a diamond); other times, all we have to do is get up and answer the door.


Eve Sweeting is the Diversity Director for HR Florida. With over a decade of HR experience in private, public, and non-profit entities, Eve currently serves as an HR Analyst with a focus in performance management and workforce metrics. She believes that HR’s ability to impact the work environment for the better can benefit both workers and organizations.


Jan 18

Click Your Heels Together and Say, “There’s No Place Like HR!”

Can you believe it? The 2018 HR Florida Conference and Expo will celebrate a ruby anniversary this August. The HR Florida State Council has brought you 39 totally rockin’ Florida conferences and this year we are hitting 40!  Our celebration will be all about the rubies, including ruby slippers.

To kick off the fun, we’ve created a game for all to participate in.  Each chapter has been given a number of ruby red slippers in the form of a stress ball. That slipper will be hidden in photos in a “Where’s Waldo” style and posted on all social media platforms.  You can join the fun and get in on the game by telling us where, when and if you see the ruby slipper.  Our hashtag #WheresRuby will make it easy for you to find the photos.

To kick it up a notch, everyone that finds 100 ruby slippers and comments on each post by saying, “I see the #WheresRuby slipper from #HRFL18,” (make sure you are selecting public view so we will be able to see who you are and count your finds) before Saturday, August 18th will be entered into a drawing for priority seating for three at the Tuesday night concert plus 10 free drink tickets.

We encourage posts to go viral – chapter marketing ambassadors have a special prize waiting for them if they can achieve 500 likes on their #WheresRuby postings, so help them out please.  Use the “tell two friends” method and we can get them a one night hotel stay during the conference.

You can also get in on the game by wearing ruby slippers and posting a picture of them to #WheresRuby.  You know the HR Florida president and president elect have the most incredible shoes, so try and show them up.

The entire executive council cannot wait to see everyone at the fabulous Gaylord Palms for this year’s Ruby Anniversary HR Florida Conference and Expo, and yes, bring those red shoes as there will be plenty of photo opportunities. There really is no place like HRFL18.

Our Best Year Yet!

Join us for our 40th annual HR Florida State Conference & Expo on August 27– August 29 at the Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center in Orlando, Florida. This is one of the largest human resources conferences in the state of Florida attracting over 2,000 HR professionals and vendors throughout the state and across the globe.

Register at:





Sep 15

Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

This article is a part of a continuing series focusing on mental health and the impact of mental illness on employees and the workplace.


September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. Each year, more than 41,000 individuals die by suicide, making suicide the 10th leading cause of death among adults in the U.S. and the 2nd leading cause of death among people aged 10-24. Many times, friends and families affected by a suicide are left in the dark; often feelings of shame and stigma prevent them from talking openly. NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, uses this month as a time to reach out to those affected by suicide, to raise awareness, and connect individuals with treatment services. HR Florida is proud to partner with NAMI Florida on a campaign to end the stigma associated with mental illness – #StigmaFreeFlorida.

Is your workplace prepared to respond in the event of a suicide?

The suicide of a vendor, client, employee or family member of an employee can cause trauma and grieving which impact workplace functioning and productivity. Being adequately prepared to respond to this type of situation as well as to cope with the aftermath of a suicide can help an organization address any potential problems, help employees cope with grief, and bring the workplace back to normal functioning.

Potential warning signs

Suicide occurs across all age, economic, social, and ethnic boundaries. All of us have stress, family disruptions, grief, medical concerns or trauma at one time or another which can become contributing factors in a suicide. For some of us, those stressors become so unbearable that they feel they are not able to survive the pain.

An employee exhibiting the following signs, may be at risk for suicide:

  • Acting sad or withdrawn, distracted at work and not engaged in their usual work performance
  • Making statements such as “you won’t have to worry about me”
  • Giving away personal belongings; talking or writing about death, dying, or suicide
  • Threatening to hurt or kill themselves
  • Feeling trapped, like there is no way out
  • No reason for living; no sense of purpose in life
  • Withdrawing from friends, family, or society

Key Workplace Strategies

There are some key workplace strategies that your company can implement to help employees who may have a mental illness causing suicidal thoughts or employees who are coping with the loss of a family member, friend, or co-worker due to suicide.

  • Visible and vocal leaders who emphasize the importance of mental health and actively work to reduce the stigma associated with mental illness.
  • Policies and procedures that promote a mentally healthy workforce, including compassionate reintegration policies, life-skills promotion, and a culture of belonging.
  • Access to mental health services such as an employee assistance program (EAP), with few obstacles to obtaining aid.
  • Suicide prevention gatekeeper training (including front-line staff) to help identify warning signs and risk factors and confidently approach and refer a high risk person to appropriate resources.
    • Gatekeeper training can teach individuals warning signs and common causes of suicide, as well as help individuals learn how to appropriately and sensitively question, persuade, and refer someone who may be suicidal to resources.
  • Means restrictions that place barriers between those of high risk for suicide and the means to accomplish suicide (roof access, chemical and weapon access, etc).
  • Crisis response protocol and long-term “postvention” to stabilize a grieving workforce while honoring bereavement needs.

All too often today, HR professionals are too bogged down in the administration and compliance pieces of human resources to focus on the well-being of employees and how it impacts the workplace. Luckily, wellness programs, mindfulness programs, and other initiatives focused on employee well-being are becoming more commonplace. Helping our employees through a very difficult time in their lives is not only a good thing to do, it is the right thing to do. Help bring awareness to mental health issues and work to change the stigma associated with mental illness; pledge that your organization will be Stigma Free. Learn more at www.namiflorida.org




Eve Sweeting is the Diversity Director for HR Florida. With over a decade of HR experience in private, public, and non-profit entities, Eve currently serves as an HR Analyst with a focus in performance management and workforce metrics. She believes that HR’s ability to impact the work environment for the better can benefit both workers and organizations.



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