Chapter 9: Employee Relations

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The week after the Mooney Holiday Extravaganza, Emma immersed herself into Ballard Industries, scheduling meeting after meeting with Rhonda, Human Resources, Finance, and Legal, and even pulling Russell out of retirement for a few days before he headed to Florida in January. By the end of the week, she'd worked them all hard, but knew they'd written some decent, family-friendly policies that she hoped employees would benefit from in the new year.

Working kept her mind off of Andrew too, who hadn't texted her all week. She knew she'd overstepped another boundary the night he and the girls were over her place. She seemed to do that a lot with him. The man still wore his wedding ring, and she'd practically jumped him on her balcony like a teenager. She really needed to take a lesson in interpersonal relationships or something.

She'd managed to score tickets to the opening of Midnight Arrow for the following Friday night, but since their declaration of being just friends, and work and its dumb policy, she couldn't muster the courage to ask him to accompany her. She really wanted to see the play and partake in the opening night, black-tie ceremonies, and knew Andrew would want to see it too. The experience of opening night of a play, along with VIP treatment, would be something he'd never forget. She could picture him, those Maldives eyes opened wide, tapping his foot along to the songs, maybe in a tux. He'd look so good in a tux. Maybe afterward they'd have coffee again.

There wasn't a reason not to ask him. It wasn't like she wanted to make out with the guy. She just wanted to go to a play. Couldn't men and women be friends, without wanting more?

Problem was, she did want more. She did want the make-out session. Ever since their conversation in her bedroom after the girls had fallen asleep in the closet, and she'd almost kissed him.

The week after they'd written the policies, Rhonda rushed into Emma's office, carrying the mail and wearing a smile. "Ms. Ballard, let me just say, I think your new policies are wonderful. I can't wait until the staff gets the email today."

"Thanks, Rhonda, but you get most of the credit." Rhonda had taken Emma's big ideas, and made them detailed, turning them into policies.

"It's your vision. What made you want to look into them?"

Emma shrugged. "I guess when I started to realize that people have lives outside of BI. Kids who deserve their attention. That sort of thing."

"Well, it's very progressive of you. A lot of companies the size of BI don't consider Human Resources as their most valuable resources. It's nice to have a boss who does."

"Thank you again."

The email went out to all corporate offices of BI, along with separate, more detailed, emails to the Board, at nine-thirty a.m. James McAdams, the President of the Board of Directors called her at nine-thirty-five. Cindy buzzed her and asked if she should put him to voice mail.

Emma told Cindy she'd take the call and picked up the line. Without exchanging a greeting, she tore into him. "It's my decision, James, not a Board decision."

"You should have run it by us."

"Employee relations are my purview exclusively. It's in our contract and it's how my father and Russell did business. What's the issue exactly?"

"Money. Productivity."

"I attached the reports from Finance and Human Resources that show that in the long run, maintaining staff and increasing wages is in the company's best interest. You've had these salaries frozen for years, Jim. And ten days of vacation for someone who's been dedicated to this company for ten years is a slap in the face."

"Ah, now I see. Sounds like you're referring to a specific employee." Jim's voice lowered and he snickered into the phone. "Who exactly are you doing this for?"

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