Author Archives: Rick Dacri

About Rick Dacri

Rick Dacri is one of those rare individuals who can take difficult employee issues, sort through their complexities, and find solutions for employers that make sense. Dacri brings more than 25 years of experience in senior management, organizational development, and human resources, all in one package. He has consulted to a wide variety of industries, large and small, always brings to the table a practical approach, sound advice, and a sense of humor. Dacri is the president and founder of Dacri & Associates, a consulting firm specializing in helping business owners and managers improve the performance and productivity of their organization and workforce. Much of Rick’s success can be attributed to his ability to work with managers to get to the heart of their problems and provide them practical solutions with simple, straightforward steps for implementation. Rick is a recognized national speaker, speaking at conferences on leadership, organizational change and human resources. He is a prolific writer, authoring the book Uncomplicating Management and over 100 articles for a number of business publications. He is also a regular contributor to several industry associations’ journals and newsletters. He has been an adjunct professor at Clark University, Assumption College and Fitchburg State College, where he has taught courses in management, organizational behavior, and human resource management. Rick serves on a number of boards and has served as President of the Human Resource Association of Southern Maine, as the Massachusetts State Director for the Society for Human Resource Management as well as the President of the Human Resource Association of Central Massachusetts. Rick holds a MBA from Clark University and a Bachelor of Arts, Magna Cum Laude from Assumption College. He lives on the coast of Maine where the sites, sounds and smells of the ocean give him inspiration and strength.

Are Your PTO Benefits Competitive?

images(Post by Rick Dacri, February 10, 2016)

While conducting an analysis of one on my client’s benefit’s package, we were asked if we have you seen any trend toward Personal Time Off (PTO), combining vacation and sick leave into one combined benefit?

Here’s what we answered:

Yes. In fact, a survey conducted last year by WorldatWork, an association of human resources professionals to which we belong, shows that combined PTO programs grew by 43 percent from 2002 to 2010, while traditional programs declined by 24 percent during the same period. The vast majority of PTO programs combine vacation, sick and personal days, while continuing to offer separate programs for holidays, bereavement and jury duty.

Employers using PTO programs typically increase leave time in bands of two to five years as employees’ seniority increases:

  • On average, a PTO system gives an employee with less than one year of service 15 days off, compared with eight vacation days and seven sick days under a traditional system.
  • After one to two years of service, the PTO days increase to 19 compared with 12 vacation days and nine sick days.
  • After five to six years of service, the numbers are 23 vs. 25, and after a decade of service the differential is 24 vs. 26.

Although a PTO system may provide employees with fewer total days of paid leave, it gives them more flexibility in how they use their time away from the office.

One commonly cited disadvantage to a combined PTO program becomes apparent when employees leave the company and the issue of paying for accrued but unused PTO surfaces. Employers generally (and some state laws mandate them to) pay out PTO days because they are considered an earned benefit. In contrast, sick days are not typically paid out under a traditional plan.

Upon implementing a PTO plan, employers often face the dilemma of how to handle the conversion of employees’ already accrued vacation and sick time, including what to do about accrual balances in excess of the new PTO program. This aspect of transitioning to a PTO program can have serious financial and employee relations implications for an employer.


  1. It is important for employers to evaluate how to handle existing vacation and sick accruals when transitioning to a PTO program.
  2. Employers should review their existing plans to ensure that they are competitive.
  3. Those who are considering transitioning to a PTO, should explore the options and conduct a cost benefit analysis first.

If you need assistance evaluating your benefit program, call Dacri & Associates.

Other Posts You May Like:


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Filed under Compensation, Uncategorized

Don’t Let Poor Performer Collect

images(This post by Rick Dacri, February 3, 2016)

What would you do if a marginally performing employee came to you asking you to be laid off so he could collect unemployment? 

On the one hand, the thought of ridding yourself of an underperforming employee who did not want to work for you any more sounded appealing. On the other hand you hated the prospect of letting him collect.

This was the issue facing one of my HR HelpLine clients who called me asking if there were any risks in laying him off. Business was good at the company, so he would have to be replaced, but “anyone” seemed better than this guy.

While it was tempting to dump this individual, my advice was that it was not without risk. Here are the risks:

1) You are committing fraud. In general, in order for an employee to qualify for unemployment compensation benefits the employee must be separated from employment involuntarily and without having committed misconduct. When an employee files a claim for unemployment compensation benefits, the employer is routinely solicited by the state unemployment compensation agency to provide separation information. In general, an employee who asks to be laid off would be considered to have voluntarily separated from employment and the claim for unemployment compensation benefits would be disqualified. If an employer would willfully state that an employee, who requested to be laid off, was involuntarily separated from employment, the employee’s unemployment compensation claim would probably be paid. The employer may be liable for intentionally providing false information to a state agency and for aiding another in the commission of a fraudulent act.

2. It will cost you. Unemployment compensation benefits are paid from an employer’s unemployment insurance account with the state. The employer’s account is funded by a payroll tax charged to the employer. The employer’s contribution tax rate is determined, in part, based on the employer’s experience rating. Experience is based on the dollar amount of unemployment compensation benefits paid out of an individual employer’s account on an annual basis. The more claims that are paid to former employees of a given employer, the higher the employer’s experience rating would be and the higher the payroll tax rate would be likely be. Providing false information about an employee’s termination to facilitate the employee’s ability to collect unemployment compensation benefits would tend to increase the employer’s unemployment compensation payroll tax cost unnecessarily.

3. You just opened Pandora’s box. Using unemployment as a tool to address performance problems is a poor management practice and it also send a bad message to the rest of your workforce. If employees underperform, address them. If they prefer to work elsewhere, tell them to quit. Finally, the last thing you can afford is a reputation for letting people quit and then getting a free pass to draw against your unemployment account.

The easy, short-term solution was to let him collect; the better, long-term resolution is to tackle the problem employee head-on.

If you would like to read more about the Dacri HR HelpLine, click HR HelpLine or if you’d prefer to watch a 5-minute YouTube, click HelpLine Youtube.

Other Posts You May Like:

  1. Firing Someone: Only 3 Legitimate Reasons
  2. Supervisor’s Mistake Opens Company to Lawsuit
  3. Five 2016 Workforce Challenges Screaming Down the Tracks

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Filed under Compliance, Employee Relations, Uncategorized

Stop Listening When I’m Snoring!

(Post by Rick Dacri, January 28, 2015)

imagesSurveillance Pitfalls: Ignorance of Law Lands 3 Massachusetts’ Managers in Court

Imagine finding out you have an employee working on the night shift who you heard was sleeping on the job. Catching him doing it was going to be next to impossible, so you decide to hook up your video camera to catch him in the act. Brilliant!! You set it up and BAM, you catch him on tape. No questions, no denials, you got him. Fired for violating company policy, sleeping on the job. Perfect. High fives all around.

The only thing that would have made this sweeter was if it was legal—and that’s what three Massachusetts’ managers, including the HR manager, were thinking when they got dragged into court. You see, that fancy video camera included an audio component and now these 3 are in trouble. Without permission of the individual, they broke the law.

Under Massachusetts’s wiretapping law (known as the two-party consent law), it is a crime to secretly record a conversation, whether the conversation is in-person or taking place by telephone or another medium. As a result, you must inform the individual you are about to record them. This law applies to secret video recording when sound is captured. The penalties for this infraction include criminal prosecution and civil lawsuits.

Yikes, this guy sleeps on the job, you catch him and you’re in trouble. Yup. It might not seem fair, but it is the law in Massachusetts.

Take away for everyone else:

Before you consider using hidden surveillance equipment consult with an expert adviser or labor attorney first. Secondly, cameras can never be installed in an area where individuals can reasonably expect privacy. And third, you should have as one court stated a “legitimate interest in the efficient operation of the workplace.” In other words, don’t do it because you’re simply curious about what’s going on.

With that said, here are some other things you should do:

  1. Tell employees in advance that the video monitoring will be occurring. Put it in your handbooks and discuss in employee meetings.
  2. Tell employees where the cameras would operate. Note how banks and stores warn you with signs upon entering.
  3. Do not record any sound—as these 3 guys will find out, the Courts prohibit this.
  4. Call the Dacri HR HelpLine (207-229-5954) for advice.
  5. Finally, never have a camera focused on one person.

The intent of these 3 managers was understandable, the execution was obviously flawed. If they knew the law, this would have never happened. It’s unfortunate.

If you need expert advice on compliance and employee issues, contact the HR HelpLine.

Other Posts you may like:

  1. Compliance: 6 Problem Areas For Employers
  2. Overtime Eligibility to Double: Prepare for Change
  3. Must You Pay Employees for “On-Call” Time?

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Filed under Compliance, Uncategorized

Something’s Happening in Local Government


5 Workforce Challenges in 2016

By Rick Dacri, Dacri & Associates, LLC

(originally published in ICMA’s Knowledge Network, 1/13/16)

“There’s something happening here; what it is ain’t exactly clear” are the opening lyrics to the Buffalo Springfield 60’s anti-war song. While protest is not our focus, something indeed is happening with today’s workforce and economy and town and city managers are being challenged to both make sense of it and address it. Local government is changing, our workforce is different, and citizens and elected officials have high expectations for results.

While there are many challenges facing town managers, workforce issues rise to the top. The Center for State & Local Government Excellence survey “State and Local Government Workforce: 2014 Trends” found that the majority of public sector managers cited their “top concerns are recruiting and retaining qualified personnel, staff development, succession planning, employee morale, competitive compensation packages, public perception of government workers, reducing employee health care costs and dealing with employee workload challenges.” Like a freight train screaming down the tracks, today’s manager must tackle these issues.

Let’s look at five of them:

  1. Aging workforce: the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) reported in their 2012 State of the Profession survey that 63% of municipal employees were 51 or older with nearly 24% 61 or older. A Black & Veatch’s strategic direction survey reported an aging workforce is among the top ten issues affecting the water industry. A 2013 Center for Energy Workforce Development (CEWD) survey report that 62% of electric utility workers have the potential to retire or leave the workplace by 2020. Whether it is police, fire, librarians, or wastewater operators, aging baby boomers are beginning to exit the workplace in what some are calling the “silver tsunami” and the public sector, as a whole is ill prepared for the exodus. And to make matters worse, fewer young people are entering the profession. Volunteers are not joining the fire departments; electric engineers are choosing high tech over public power; and environmental professionals prefer consulting to wastewater treatment.
  2. Creating a performance based culture: The municipal, union mentality culture must end. Communities can no longer afford bloated workforces, crippling work rules, huge unfunded pensions, and pay plans based on length of service rather than performance. Today’s workplace culture must reward performance and productivity and encourage employee engagement resulting in worker retention and attracting the best external talent available. Union work rules that hamper operations must be replaced with those that support flexibility, and pay must be based on merit and include performance incentives. In addition, town managers should emphasize priorities and goal setting, measuring and monitoring performance and not just effort and activity. Employees must be flexible, customer centric, and engaged.
  3. Managing a multidimensional and changing workforce: Today’s workforce is changing and different. As boomers age out, we are seeing a different look than we have come to expect. Whether at town hall, public works, the water or fire department, we now find more women, individuals of color and youth. As the workforce becomes more diverse, managers must have the skills to lead this “different” workplace. Engaging a younger generation, with workers who have a different perspective and have distinct expectations of their boss and work, unlike other generations, will require significant adjustments, patience, tolerance and the skills to manage.
  4. Recruitment, retention and rewards: There is a new “3 R’s.” Finding individuals who want to work in public safety, public power, wastewater and any other aspect of local government have never been harder. Managers will have to find ways to make government careers more attractive to a younger generation, while competing with the private sector that may have deeper pockets and have shiner toys to dangle. Work/life balance, flexibility, career development and telecommuting will be needed to attract this new generation of worker. And to retain them, communities will have to reward workers with cash (merit pay, incentives, benefits) and non-cash (opportunities, training, titles). The lure of a job in government has faded. Competitive pay has become a minimum threshold to attract and retain talent. Money talks.
  5. A strategic approach to managing: Managers and elected officials must now make decisions about the direction of their business utilizing a strategic framework. No longer can they simply move from crisis to crisis, election to election. A big picture, business approach to government will be needed, discarding “how we’ve always done it this way” approach to a reinvention of government that addresses today and tomorrow’s realities. There will be a greater reliance on technology, creativity, innovation, best practices and benchmarking, and these require a new kind of leader to manage a new kind of workforce that can thrive in this new world. In the past, public utilities were lead by engineers, electrical engineers in power, environment engineers in water and wastewater. No longer. Today the need is likely for an MBA or MPA. Towns and their utilities are multimillion-dollar businesses and require a strong businessperson to run them. It is not a place for on-the-job training.


The 21st century leader and their elected officials must think differently. Successful leaders must have the skill to look around corners, while making bold decisions in addressing the changing market. Their mandate will be to:

  1. Develop a strong workforce that is energized, embraces change, is resident centric and strives for excellence.
  2. Create a workplace culture that sheds the municipal stereotypes of entitlement, bureaucracy and coldness with one that is productive, effective and efficient to one that is customer focused, friendly and helpful. Town hall must always be welcoming.
  3. Think long range and not just about today’s firefight. Managers and elected officials must understand the big picture and not just how it will affect this year’s budget. Maximum impact must be part of the new lexicon and that means taking a strategic approach to governing.
  4. Become a learning environment. Continuous education for all staff, elected officials and citizens are essential. Exposure to new and different ideas stimulates new thinking, creativity and innovation, challenging and questioning the previously accepted norms.
  5. Be passionate about government. Leading a municipality is a worthy profession. Show energy. Get excited. It’s contagious and it is essential in recruiting and retaining star performers; motivating staff; and engaging residents and ratepayers. But most importantly, it is crucial in moving people forward, persuading them and getting them to follow.


The challenges of the 21st century will be great. Managers and elected officials will have to discard old notions and embrace new thinking. Continuous change and experimentation will be the norm. Town halls must be incubators of management best practices.

There indeed is something happening here and that’s a good thing.

Rick Dacri is a management adviser, president of Dacri & Associates, and author of the book Uncomplicating Management: Focus on Your Stars and Your Company Will Soar (;

Other posts that you might like:

  1. Municipalities: Top 10 Tips to Ensure the Board and Manager Maintain a Strong & Effective Relationship
  2. Succession Plan in Municipalities Assure a Steady Flow of Talent
  3. Retaining Workers Over 50

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Filed under city manager, government, ICMA, Leadership, Uncategorized

2016 New Year’s Resolutions

Unknown(Post by Rick Dacri, January 4, 2016)

It is that time of year again…New Year’s Resolution time!

For the regulars at most health clubs, you know over the next few weeks the place will be packed with all those who have resolved to loose weight and get healthy. But we all know, by the end of January, most will revert back to their old ways and the rest of us can finally find an open lane to swim.

It happens in business too. So, rather than suggesting a dozen resolutions to improve your business and workforce, I am going to suggest 4, and encourage you to adopt one or two in the first half of the year and the other two, later. Reasonable?

Here they are:
1. Invest in yourself. So much of your time is spent on improving your business and developing your staff (all good things). But so little time, energy or money is ever invested in you. This year, commit to attending a conference, taking a seminar, or engaging (finally!) an executive coach. Remember, if you don’t manage your own career, no one else will. Take care of your self. It’s good for you and frankly, it’s good for your company too.
2. Update and revise your handbook. Several changes have been made to state and federal law over this past year, requiring changes to your policies. These include restrictions on social media (Maine); earned sick time regulations (MA); extension of parental leave (MA); increase in minimum wages (MA); and the guidance on handbooks issued by the NLRB (federal). These are just some of the changes that took place in 2015. Incorporate them into your handbook and while you’re at it, make sure all your polices reflect both the law and your existing work practices (details of all of these changes can be found in my blog).
3. Prepare for the U.S. Department of Labor’s proposed exemption changes to the Fair Labor Standards Act. The impact of this regulation, now scheduled for the third quarter of this year, is huge. Ill prepared employers who don’t take the time to address these changes, could find themselves in big trouble with the DOL, costing them a bundle in fines. And while you’re preparing for these changes, it is always a good time to look at all your employee classifications and your wage and hour practices to ensure that you are in full compliance and that your supervisors understand and follow them.
4. Get ready for wage increases. For the second straight year, I am projecting that wages will increase by 3%. As I noted in previous advisories and blog posts, certain positions (electrical engineers, IT, nurses) and geographic areas (Northeast, the 128 Belt) can expect higher amounts. Evaluate your wage programs. Make sure your entire compensation system is competitive with the market. With a relatively strong labor market that is making recruitment and retention much more challenging, having a competitive wage program is an absolute must.
Put together a simple plan to schedule and implement these changes. And please, don’t forget yourself.

Here’s hoping that 2016 will be a terrific year for you, your company and staff. As always, I am ready to assist you in any way I can. Just call (207-229-5954) or email (

Happy New Year!

Other posts you may like:

  1. 2016 Compensation Trends (listen to webinar)
  2. HR HelpLine: When You Need Expert Advice
  3. Planning Keeps You On Course

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Filed under Uncategorized


Portland Water District

The Portland Water District (PWD) is seeking an experienced, customer focused, innovative General Manager.
The position is open due to the retirement of the incumbent.

Dacri & Associates has been engaged to exclusively conduct this recruitment search.

Portland is the largest city in Maine. Located on the southern coast, PWD and the communities it services enjoy a mixture of artistic and outdoor adventures. With a thriving working waterfront, vibrant economy and downtown districts, historic buildings, art community, and colleges and universities, all contributing to the cultural pulse of the city and region, making this area an outstanding place to work, live and enjoy.

PWD supplies water to 15% of Maine’s population. It has a rich tradition that forms a solid foundation for delivering quality products, while forward thinking provides innovative approaches to combat emerging issues within the industry. PWD is an independent quasi-municipality, serving over 200,000 people, in 11 Greater Portland communities and provides both water and wastewater service to five of those communities.

PWD employs 178 employees, services 54,000 customers, and has 69 wastewater pump stations and 4 wastewater treatment plants, in a service area of 140 square miles. Its annual budget exceeds $40 million.

A Board of Trustees composed of 11 members manages the affairs of PWD. Trustees are elected for a term of 5 years. The General Manager is selected by and reports to the Trustees.

The ideal candidate for Portland Water District’s next General Manager will have a broad and varied professional, business, municipal and management background with demonstrated success in leadership. The individual will be current in modern leadership and management practices, technologically adept and have well-developed skills in strategic planning, people management, labor relations, regulatory affairs, government, board relations, utilities, conflict resolution, organizational analysis, and consensus building. He/she will have strong financial skills, but won’t be afraid to invest; can work well with the trustees, but is comfortable challenging them; and can outreach to the legislature, town managers, regulators, ratepayers and all other stakeholders. The new GM must be willing to be the face of PWD, yet be equally comfortable working behind the scenes. The right candidate should possess a Bachelor Degree in business or public administration, while a Masters is ideal, and have at least 10 years of progressive business or municipal leadership experience.

This is a unique opportunity for the career-minded manager, who thinks strategically, works collaboratively, listens attentively and can make tough decisions. PWD is facing unique challenges with an aging infrastructure, increased regulations, changing technology, and deregulation. Portland Water needs a General Manager who can hit the ground running, lead a vibrant team of engaged employees in concert with the Trustees, work effectively with the 11 municipalities, their leadership and rate payers and provide the vision and direction to PWD in the future.

PWD takes pride in being a premier employer and a respected community partner.

The Portland Water District offers an attractive salary and comprehensive benefit package along with the opportunity to grow a career in a vibrant community.

To learn more about this position, call Rick Dacri, Dacri & Associates Executive Search, at 207-229-5954 or 

To apply, email your resume, cover letter and salary history, in confidence, by January 29, 2016:

Rick Dacri
Dacri & Associates, LLC
Executive Search

Feel free to forward this posting.

The Portland Water District is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

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Filed under careers, executive recruitment, Uncategorized

End Bad Hires…Now (Webinar)


End Bad Hires…Now!

How to Find & Hire Quality Candidates, Every Time

Wednesday, January 13 @ 2PM ET

NEW 60 minute Rick Dacri  webinar

Register Today via email at

or call 207-229-5954

Not another Bad Hire!!! Sorry, I didn’t mean to upset you. But I know, it’s a sensitive, troublesome, often unnerving, always necessary topic. You know that hiring the wrong person can make you crazy and run havoc with your entire operation. And if you’re going to stay in business, you have got to find great people.

Hiring quality people is getting harder and harder. I don’t know about you, but I am seeing managers struggle to find quality people with the skills and attitudes they need in their organization. There seems to be fewer people around and those that are available often fall short on what it takes to be successful.
Well, frankly, it doesn’t have to be that way. There are good people out there, but they might already be working…and maybe they are working for your competition. And maybe, if they knew more about you, they might want to work for you. So how do you find them and get them to join your company?
In this 60-minute webinar, titled End Bad Hires…Now, How to Find & Hire Quality Candidates, Every Time, I will provide you a recruitment program, filled with practical strategies and recommendations. Stop making bad hires and start hiring superstars! In my 25 years as a management consultant and executive recruiter, I’ve developed a number of different approaches to finding excellent candidates.
In this small (25 person max), highly energized 60-minute webinar, I tell all (maybe a little more than all): All you have to do is register for this webinar scheduled for Wednesday, January 13th at 2:00 ET

Here’s what you’ll learn in this webinar:

How to find great candidates who may not know of you (yet)
How to develop a positive recruitment brand that attract candidates to you
How to make your company standout from your competition
How to improve your overall recruitment program in 7 easy steps
How to find candidates who aren’t looking, but who would be perfect for you
How to use social media to attract tech-savvy candidates
How to develop a recruitment campaign that provides immediate results
How to develop an applicant pool with multiple sources of candidates
How to interview candidates so you know who they really are (eliminate surprises)
How to get excellent references beyond the usual “name, rank & serial number”
How to get a candidate to accept your job offer with enthusiasm

I don’t have to tell you how important it is to recruit top-notch talent. Your success is dependent upon it, but it’s getting harder and harder to find qualified candidates who can make an immediate contribution to your organization.

This webinar will provide you with the information and advice on how to develop a comprehensive recruitment brand and program to ensure that you have a steady stream of great hires—every time.

Once again, to enroll, email me at or call 207-229-5954

Cost? $125.00. Not a bad investment for learning how to hire great people, more easily. And Dacri & Associates’ clients pay only $100 (a 20% savings).

I hope to see you there,
Rick Dacri

Dacri & Associates, LLC

We will be recording the entire thing (audio and visual). Your admission gives you access to the recording for easy reviewing after the fact.


Register Now via email at or call 207-229-5954



Feedback from Previous Webinar Attendees:

· It was excellent, clear, easy to understand and follow; applicable in many areas and overall very interesting. Thank you
· EXCELLENT as Rick Dacri always is!
· This was incredibly informative and I would love to attend more!
· The program is great because it triggers you to look into areas of the organization that need improvement.
· Thank you, Rick. Well paced and informative.
· Nice work Rick! Enjoyed the presentations.
· Great information to have for managing a business. You are a great resource for questions.
· Great tips and information.
· As always, a wonderful Rick Dacri presentation – just the right amount of information and appropriate stories to illustrate the point.
· For an hours time the information covered was very valuable.
· The content was incredibly helpful. Found the content on hiring right, training managers to interview well and addressing problematic performance important and useful.
· It is good to have a better understanding of the HR side of the business and how to avoid potential problems



Register Now via email at or call 207-229-5954.

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Filed under careers, executive recruitment, human resources, Job Search, Uncategorized