HR Solutions

By Deb Levine, Vicki Neal and Liz Petersen Jul 1, 2007

Cover for July 2007 HR Magazine Sunday Closing, HR Metrics, Job-Related Questions

Q: We are a car dealership that decided to close on Sundays so staff can enjoy the Sabbath and spend time with their families. Some employees are complaining and even asking to have Friday or Saturday off. What should we do now?

A: It can be frustrating when employees do not appreciate management practices aimed at enhancing employee work/life balance. If, however, we step back and look at some of the ramifications of this decision, we may better understand why some employees are not happy, and perhaps forestall potential dissatisfaction with future initiatives.

Start by asking those who are complaining to articulate the exact nature of their concerns. Are they unhappy because they are members of a religious group for which Friday or Saturday is their Sabbath? Are they unhappy because their family members work on Sunday, or for other reasons that may be understandable? Or are they chronic complainers in search of an issue? Answers to these questions may yield some effective solutions.

Employees who do not observe Sunday as their Sabbath may be concerned about a respect for religious diversity and may seek religious accommodation so that they can observe their Sabbath. As our marketplace becomes more diverse, so must approaches for managing talent. Companies can no longer depend on the old adage that one size fits all.

In the United States today, Muslims, Seventh-Day Adventists and Jews recognize Friday or Saturday as their Sabbath. Therefore, consider how closing on Sunday may affect them.

Furthermore, as more companies replace the traditional work schedule of 9 to 5 Monday through Friday with 24/7 operations, the need for flexible or alternative scheduling becomes more pronounced, not only for employees work/life balance but also to serve customers better.

Next, consider the feasibility of various scheduling options. How will remaining open on Sunday with shorter business hours affect both business and employee morale? Use focus groups and climate surve

If chronic complainers have been involved in recommending and implementing solutions, they are less likely to find issue with management initiatives.


Q: How do HR metrics relate to human resource strategy?

A: As a result of increased interest in human capital, HR professionals are expected to provide qualitative information to the organization’s internal leaders, board members and stakeholders. Thus, HR must be able to align the HR strategy with the organizational strategy and prove its effectiveness.

Measurement is critical for monitoring and effectively managing goals as well as final outcomes. Quantitative information is a common language that all leaders understand and consider credible.

In aligning HR’s strategies with organizational objectives, consider those metrics that the CEO deems important. These metrics will align with organizational strategy for increased market share, productivity, employee return on investment, labor costs and revenues. Move away from seeing the provision of metrics as a cost function; instead, look at what human capital is providing to the organization through quality hires and engaged and productive employees.

Metrics are used in areas such as HR outsourcing and workforce planning.

A variety of metrics can be used to analyze a goal or outcome. Cost per hire and health care costs per employee are examples of department metrics that provide valuable information.

Also, measure on a broader scale to determine the contribution that HR is making to the business, such as its impact on profitability, competitiveness and other organizational goals.

Use HR metrics for:

  • Budgeting and planning purposes.
  • Development of strategy.
  • Benchmarking.
  • Compliance.
  • Assessing organizational, departmental and individual goals.

Don’t just provide data; provide complete and timely data. The data should report the status of goals and outcomes. Make sure to measure the appropriate factors, such as the correct time period. Also, assess the metrics currently used.

The information you are putting out should be a comprehensive analysis of the goal or outcome and should be aligned with HR and organizational strategy.


Q:Can a job recruiter ask a candidate for employment, “Do you own a car?”

A:In most instances, no. The question of whether an individual owns a car is irrelevant, unless the position requires an employee to use his or her personal vehicle to travel between worksites, or other locations, as a primary job duty.

How candidates get to work really has no bearing on how they will perform. Therefore, an employer should not consider an employee’s mode of transportation in making a selection decision.

A recruiter who asks an applicant if he or she has a car often intends to find out if the person will have attendance issues. An applicant’s ability to be at work on time every day definitely is a job-related concern. But the question the recruiter asked doesn’t really obtain the information he or she was seeking.

When you develop interview questions, think about the kinds of answers you may receive for each question. Avoid questions that have more to do with personal lifestyles than job experience. Phrase each question so that the answer will describe on-the-job qualities instead of personal qualities. If the question is not related to performance on the job, do not ask it.

Following are a few sample questions that may help in determining if an applicant has outside commitments or transportation issues, which could negatively affect the person’s attendance at work. Choose questions that best reflect your company’s hours of work, overtime and attendance policies.

  • “Do you have reliable transportation to and from work?”
  • “What shifts or days are you available to work?”
  • “Our second shift is from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday. Are you available to work this shift every weekday?”
  • “We have a mandatory overtime policy. Required overtime could extend your workday to 10 hours and/or may require working on Saturdays as needed. Are you available to work this type of overtime schedule?”
  • “Would you be available to work overtime on Saturdays?”
  • “Do you foresee any problems with working a third-shift schedule?”
  • “When overtime is required, will transportation be a problem?”


Deb Levine, SPHR, Vicki Neal, PHR, and Liz Petersen, SPHR, are HR knowledge advisors in the Society for Human Resource Managements HR Knowledge Center.

Web Extras

SHRM web page: HR Knowledge Center

SHRM toolkit: Religion in the Workplace 

SHRM article: Repurposing Metrics for HR (HR Magazine)

SHRM study: Human Capital Measurement/HR Metrics 

SHRM web site: Interviewing Questions Database

SHRM white paper: Guidelines on Interview and Employment Application Questions


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