Welcome to Speakfully Insider, a weekly series featuring thought leaders on important topics surrounding workplace mistreatment, company culture, workplace safety, social justice and more.
Please introduce yourself.
My name is Nicole Anderson and I am the owner and CEO of MEND, a human resources solutions firm based in West Palm Beach, Fla. I am knowledgeable on employment law in more than 43 states and Canada, business partnerships, profit and loss, mergers and acquisitions, organizational development, coaching, training, onboarding, recruitment, termination, salaries, budgeting, employee relations, payroll and payroll reduction, policies and procedures, employee benefits packages, COBRA, paid and unpaid leave, pet policies, resumes, job interview tips, harassment in the workplace, veteran hiring initiatives, diversity, workplace rights for people of all ages, races, cultures, religions, sexual orientations, and ethnicities, and more.
MEND’s impressive client list includes companies in the manufacturing, distribution, geriatrics, medical, and technology industries, as well as a wildlife sanctuary. One of our clients is a Fortune 500 electronics manufacturer. Before founding MEND in 2017, I held corporate leadership positions in the legal, retail, and manufacturing industries. My broad corporate experience and work with first-year startup companies has guided my vision – the need for today’s corporate leaders to better understand tomorrow’s workforce.
I received a Bachelor of Business Administration in Human Resources Management from American InterContinental University in Weston, Fla. I am currently writing my first book about the future of human resources. Readers will learn why HR needs to be more business-minded, work with leaders to develop bottom line strategies, and bring value to companies rather than just be policy makers and enforcers.
I have a passion for people that goes well beyond my professional career. As a single mom for the entirety of my career, I have been a trailblazer to prove that single parents can raise a family successfully. It gives me the drive, determination, stability, and focus to provide for my daughter, who is now a thriving teenager, to do her proud and not fail her. I strive to shatter the stereotype that single parents are charity cases or will raise felons.
My backstory goes much deeper than my stance on parenthood. I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. From the ages of 10-13, I was abused by a prominent member of my church. This man was a family friend and when I confessed he had been abusing me, my family and I were ridiculed. It was discovered I was not the only victim. Despite people saying I’d become a drug addict, teen mom, and not go to college, I proved them wrong and graduated high school and college and didn’t become a mom until I was in my 20s.
I enjoy mentoring the next generation in both life and business. I’m active in community-based organizations including Teen Mom Choices, A21 to help fight human trafficking, Young Professionals Community (YPC), and Christ Fellowship Church. I'm especially passionate about raising awareness for mental health and educating people on sexual abuse.
Can you describe your work as an organizational change-maker as it relates to HR?
I believe my role in HR is to make change. I set out after my first position in HR to change the industry and to change the workplace. Each place that I worked presented its challenges, but at the end of the day it was the same problems manifested in different ways. At the last place I was employed, I was hired specifically to bring change. The firm was struggling to keep talent, attract new talent, and was a spider’s web of drama. What I found was that the HR department was not a neutral party and favoritism was running wild. The people mature enough to figure this out just left instead of dealing with it. The culture was HR against management and employees got their way. Management could not get anything accomplished and when they would put their foot down, it was an HR issue. I set up a plan to tackle these issues. At first, it was tough as most change is, but everyone came on board eventually. We coached management on their behavior and coached employees on their behavior in the workplace. I taught my department that they are not there to be one against the other, but to solve problems and be effective in the growth of the company.
In your opinion, how may general workplace mistreatment effect the cultural dynamic of a community?
A community that has very limited opportunities for work can be decimated by workplace mistreatment. Their options are to endure the treatment or not feed their families. So, most people bow their heads and just work, they take whatever comes at them. In a larger area with more opportunity, a community may not be as affected by one place of mistreatment, however, larger areas tend to recycle employees from the same industry who move from competitor to competitor. Their behaviors are left uncheck and begin and teach mistreatment (bad habits) at new places of employment.
Do you feel leadership as a whole are ready to lift their heads out of the sand and make real change as it relates to workplace mistreatment and maintaining a healthy workplace culture?
I believe this is a generational issue. I believe the younger generation of leaders are more than ready to move forward with a modern, healthy, and inclusive workplace culture than the older generation. The older generation was raised in a workplace where you put your head down and work, that is it. I do believe a lot of the clients I work with in the older generation are beginning to see that their legacies may be affected if they do not address the workplace mistreatment because people will just not work for them. They need people to build their business, they need to retain top talent, and they must be better.
What steps do you believe will help in making workplace mistreatment and fear of retaliation a thing of the past?
I believe that the first step is establishing trust and transparency in the workplace and this begins with the C-Suite. A team of leaders that hold themselves to the same standards they hold their employees. Leaders who keep their word, build trust, and employees feel comfortable coming to them with issues and concerns. Training is the second step to providing a workplace free from mistreatment and retaliation. A company who establishes their culture and trains leadership and employees on their expectations of behavior will result in more trust from employees. A third step is holding those who do retaliate and mistreat people in the workplace accountable, showing that that type of behavior will not be tolerated.
If you could sit down with a historical figure to discuss creating a healthier workplace environment for every worker, who would it be, what would you discuss, and why?
Albert Einstein. He was the smartest man that lived. We would discuss an equation that would help to solve the many issues that we face today in the workplace. We would also discuss coming up with true statistical data based on actual fact, not feeling, to ensure that we are presenting the best solutions possible. Albert was a quiet leader, a leader that needed little attention, but made a huge difference in our world.