Conflict Managed with Merry Brown

Natasha Pennington sat down with Merry Brown on the Conflict Managed podcast to discuss “red flags at work” and feeling “stuck”.  Natasha shares personal stories of both toxic and wonderful work environments, and the juxtaposition of being minimized vs being invested in, supported, and cared for. She also offers advice on how to deal with difficult and sensitive problems at work, such as hygiene issues. 

Conflict Managed is hosted by Merry Brown and produced by Third Party Workplace Conflict Restoration Services.

Conflict Managed can be found on Apple Podcasts. Listen HERE

ATA-Employment Solutions joins GROWWTH

ATA-Employment Solutions joined GROWWTH – Growing Relational and Occupational Wealth in West Tennessee Households is the result of a community partnership led by the University of Memphis upon being awarded a TN Opportunity Pilot Initiative Implementation Grant in the amount of $25,000,000 to improve outcomes for West TN low-income families.  The goal of GROWWTH is to eliminate key barriers to self-sufficiency for low-income individuals in the West TN region.  

Implementation of the initiative began November 2022 and continues through the next three years.  It is the goal of the project team to have at least four employer representatives from each of the local workforce areas in West TN to provide guidance throughout the grant, ensure the grant’s work readiness and training programs align with the skills needed by employers, identify supportive services needed to address barriers of grant participants to enable them to obtain and maintain employment, and help connect program graduates to open positions. 

For more information on GROWWTH visit:


Union City, Tenn. — Accounting firm Alexander Thompson Arnold PLLC (ATA) recently announced an acquisition of Center Point Business Solutions. Center Point will become a full-service Professional Employer Organization (PEO) known as ATA Employment Solutions (ATAES), effective Jan. 1, 2021.

“We are excited for Center Point to join our Family of Firms,” said ATA managing partner, John Whybrew. “This acquisition provides so many benefits for both companies and their client bases.”

Center Point Business Solutions is a respected source for employment solutions. The company offers services such as human resources management, payroll management, retirement planning, unemployment management, human resources strategy, employee health insurance planning, workers’ compensation, and recruiting and hiring aid. Custom training programs have also become a large piece of their service offering.

“Our company provides a streamlined approach to handling human resources management that takes time away from focusing on your business,” said Al Oliver, owner of Center Point. “We look forward to sharing and expanding our services with this merger.”


About Alexander Thompson Arnold PLLC (ATA)

ATA is a long-term business advisor to its clients and provides other services that are not traditionally associated with accounting.  For example, Revolution Partners, ATA’s wealth management entity provides financial planning expertise; ATA Technologies provides trustworthy IT solutions; Sodium Halogen focuses on growth through the design and development of marketing and digital products; Adelsberger Marketing offers video, social media, and digital content for small businesses; and newly added, ATAES, a comprehensive human resource management agency.

ATA has 13 office locations in Tennessee, Kentucky and Mississippi. Recognized as an IPA Top 200 regional accounting firm, it provides a wide array of accounting, auditing, tax and consulting services for clients ranging from small family-owned businesses to publicly traded companies and international corporations.  ATA is also an alliance member of BDO USA LLP, a top five global accounting firm, which provides additional resources and expertise for clients.


ATA Employment Solutions is pleased to introduce Natasha Pennington as our newest Client Manager. Natasha is a certified SHRM Professional and has a Master of Science Degree in Human Resources as well as a Graduate Certificate in Organizational Leadership & Human Resources Management.

Natasha grew up in California on a 1.5 acre lot on a mini farm with chickens, turkeys, ducks, dogs, pigs, and horses. Natasha’s husband, Russell, proposed to her in Tennessee while they were visiting his family in 2014. The scenery was perfect with cows grazing by a pond. The proposal included lots of happy tears as well as laughs because little did Russell know that he had knelt down in a fresh cow patty!

When asked what she loves most about TN, Natasha says “I love that there is no traffic, no smog, and that people here are just genuinely nicer. I love that I get to experience all 4 seasons as opposed to summer all year round in So Cal and I think lightening bugs may be the coolest thing I’ve ever seen! My husband and I love to fish and spend as much time outdoors as possible and Tennessee is definitely a place where we can do lots of that! We absolutely love it here and we both agree moving here is one of the best decisions we have ever made!”

Natasha and her husband are the proud parents of of a spoiled fur baby, Princess Layah.

We are thankful to have Natasha as part of the ATA Employment Solutions team and look forward to her meeting more of our clients!


Drug testing simply put, is a part of life for millions of people and organizations.  But not all drug tests are created equally.  One of the most frequent questions we get from employers is “Do you offer instant drug testing?” It is always our intent to be transparent with our clients so while we can and will instant test if the employer insists, it is not a standard service that we actively promote.  Even realizing the success we could have in selling this service, we do not feel this method of testing is in the best interest of the employer. I am sure you are wondering why because would instant testing be easy?  Profitable?  Offer quick results?  The answer to all of those is yes BUT it’s more complicated than that.

While lab based and instant tests can both look for similar substances in one’s body, there are some significant differences between the two.  Before making any decision on drug testing, check your state law and any other governing body that can specify what testing can or cannot be performed.  For example, instant testing is not permissible for required DOT testing.  Even though instant testing is legally allowed in Tennessee, participation in the Drug Free Workplace Program requires that a medical review officer (MRO) be utilized to review the test so instant testing alone is not sufficient.

Web Assortment of drugs and medicine

Time is always a factor in drug testing – after all, time is money.  Instant tests obviously provide increased convenience and faster turnaround times. However, lab based testing has come a long way and today results are faster than ever. Additionally even with an instant test, any non-negative result must be confirmed by a lab test.  Because of this, other critical factors should be considered.

Instant testing technology continues to advance but instant tests are still somewhat limited on how far back in the subject’s history you are able to check.  Lab based drug screening tests will let you look further back.  Instant tests usually only go back a few weeks or even just a few days in some cases.

Accuracy is probably the biggest consideration to take into account. Not only is lab based testing more accurate, it is also reviewed and analyzed by an MRO.  Besides more accurate findings in terms of who is using what, the chance of false positives is greatly reduced. This protects companies and organizations as well as the individual.  While this may not sound like a big concern, imagine if you were testing a childcare worker and they produced a positive result for methamphetamine.  After conducting the required lab test, it is determined to be a false positive or a negative result based on prescription verification by the MRO.  Based on this, the childcare worker is determined to have a clear, negative test.  What type of embarrassment would that worker feel?  Would that effect the relationship that the childcare worker has with the employer?  With co-workers?  Would the employer be more skeptical of the employee?  Potentially damaging a reputation and relationship could have been avoided by skipping the instant test and using lab-based testing.

Employees are a big investment and can be a business’s greatest assets.  While instant testing does have some benefits and uses, we feel strongly that drug testing is not the line item to save a buck on when overall lab-based testing is a more effective and efficient method.  Faster is not always better – that’s such a hard concept in a time where people thrive on immediate results and gratification.  After all, patience is bitter but its fruit is sweet so we will continue to be patient as we strive for accurate and thorough results.


Budget cuts are a necessity for any successful business; however, when making these cuts, don’t be penny wise and pound foolish by cutting too much of your training budget.  As technologies and best practices change, employees need to be trained and sometimes refreshed on key topics.  Sometimes tenured employees are promoted to management but they fail miserably because they lack the management experience and training.  There are several key benefits of training employees:

  1. Increased productivity:  W’with training, comes more self-confidence and a better way for someone to do his/her job.  When someone knows how to best do their job, they are better equipped to handle any challenges or bottlenecks that arise.   
  2. Improved employee retention:  When you train key employees, you are investing in their ability to learn & grow.  Many employees appreciate the investment and are more willing to stay longer in a job because of the investment.
  3. Improved job satisfaction:  Training can help keep employees engaged in their job.  Engaged employees have a higher productivity rate and are more willing to bring new and fresh ideas to the table.
  4. Improved succession plan:  With training, you have more people who know how to do a task or a job.  Spreading knowledge around an organization is like diversifying your investments or not having all your eggs in one basket.

Training doesn’t have to be expensive.  Just make sure the training is relevant to the employee’s job or needed skill set.  Training has a cost but it is much less than replacing an employee.  Training is a great way to drive employee retention and increase productivity.  ATA Employment Solutions offers a variety of relevant and affordable training that can be tailored for a specific business’s need.

“An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.”Benjamin Franklin


While we wish we had a nickel for every time someone asked that question, we’re always happy to oblige because we get excited telling our story. Much to everyone’s surprise, ATA Employment Solutions is a professional employer organization (PEO) specializing in permanent, full-time employment for our client employers. Client employers are our customers who utilize our services either in a “full-service” capacity or ala carte in which case they may only rely on us for recruiting employees to fill their full-time permanent positions. We accept resumes and applications from individuals so that we have a database of qualified applicants to choose from when positions become available.

Contrary to popular belief, we do not specialize in temporary staffing. While temp staffing services are necessary in many lines of business, we focus on permanent employment opportunities. Also unlike many temporary staffing agencies, we are paid directly by the client employer and there is no deduction or fee on an employee’s paycheck for our services. The concept of PEO’s is about 30 years old and is widely recognized by government entities and will continue to gain support with the recent Small Business Efficiency Act (SBEA). With this act, the connection of PEO utilization and small business success is being acknowledged by the government. PEO clients are able to focus on their core business while the PEO cost-effectively manages their human resources. Businesses who use a PEO experience higher growth, improved work environments, and better employee retention. If you are a business interested in learning more about our services, give us a call – we love to tell our story! And if you’re an individual looking for permanent employment, apply with us today!

That’s not my job!

“That’s not my job.”  Have you ever heard someone say that?  The reality though, is if employers provide a thorough job description to each of their employees then it eliminates the surprise or frustration created by unclear expectations between the employee and their supervisor.  Job descriptions are essential tools in hiring, evaluating, and even terminating employees.  A well-written job description will provide a clearly communicated understanding to all parties of the job duties and skills needed to be successful.

Aside from serving as a valuable communication tool between the employee and employer, a job description provides documentation of the duties of a position which can be used in determining exempt or non-exempt status.  The requirements outlined by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) require that a position meet three tests to legally be exempt from overtime: salary level test, salary basis test, and duties test.  Having up-to-date job descriptions for all of your positions will provide a foundation for not only the duties test, but also other human resources programs that can be driving factors to your business success.

Creating and maintaining job descriptions might take a little time but pays dividends in the long run.  

For more information on writing job descriptions or determining exempt or non-exempt status, contact ATA Employment Solutions at (731) 885-4810 to speak to one of our HR professionals.