How Much Do You Know About Health Care Reform?
The enactment of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), a federal statute that was signed into law in March 2010, along with the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Action of 2010, also signed into law in March, 2010, make up the Health Care Reform Law of 2010. These laws focus on “reform of the private health insurance market, provide better coverage for those with pre-existing conditions, improve prescription drug coverage in Medicare and extend the life of the Medicare Trust fund by at least 12 years.” With the promise to deliver big changes in the U.S. health care system, the question remains: … a year later … How much do we really know about Health Care Reform?
Want to test your Health Reform Knowledge?
The Kaiser Family Foundation has introduced an interactive quiz that allows us to test our knowledge about health reform law against the general public. In a series of ten questions quiz takers can test their knowledge and compare results with the public’s responses in a recent tracking poll. Kaiser has found that “… less than one percent of the public could answer all ten questions correctly…” … hmmmm. That notwithstanding, I posed this to one of my graduate classes and they got all of the questions correct!!
The Kaiser Family Foundation also provides their enhanced implementation timeline - “Health Reform Implementation Timeline”. This interactive tool is designed to explain how and when the provisions of the health reform law will be implemented over the next several years, tracks where items are in the process, and provides related links to relevant regulations and materials.
Aren’t we all looking for Health Care Reform to make health care more affordable, hold insurers more accountable, and expand coverage and quality of care to all Americans? There are many tools available to us – let’s get a better understanding of what our Health Care Reform really means.
Follow these links:Posted By Diane Pfadenhauer In Trends | Permalink
Workplace Bullying Gaining More Attention
...and rightfully so. We recently witnessed a highly publicized case of a young lady who was allegedly the victim of bullying at school. One of the major issues her is the fact that when some of us were kids, the bullies were met in the school yard, on the way home, etc. We could avoid them, travel with our friends and escape their wrath. Now, some experts are noting that bullying has moved to the web. And, as such, it is almost inescapable and almost impossibly to avoid.
I was recently interviewed by Barbara Safani for an article on AOL Find a Job. She notes:
Workplace bullying is the tendency of individuals or groups to use persistent aggressive or unreasonable behavior against a co-worker or subordinate and the abuse displayed may be verbal, non verbal, psychological, or physical.
While some of this behavior may not be considered harassment under the traditional discrimination laws, I can assure you that the workplace disruption associated with bullying is tremendous. Think about it: all of the kids that put gum in your hair and taunted you in the playground are now your coworkers.
Follow this Link to the Article: Have You Been the Victim of Workplace Bullying?Posted By Diane Pfadenhauer In Trends | Permalink
Why do Employees Stay in Their Jobs?
It seems that employers and employees don't necessarily agree. A recent survey suggests that "...Employers and employees have dramatically different opinions of why workers remain in their jobs, showing US companies may struggle to retain employees in an improved job market."
For employees its 1) benefits, 2) financial compensation, and, 3) their career growth and earnings potential. Employers, however, believe that management climate, supervisor relationships and culture and work environment keep their employees at work.
In my experience, managers always seems to have a relatively warped sense of their value to employees. They believe that they are engaging, motivate employees, have open door policies and send messages to employees that they are valued. For their employees, it seems that according to this survey, nuts and bolts count first, particularly in this economy. Even if employers do believe this about themselves, many times their actions in practice are contrary to the spirit of these employee-friendly policies.
Not all employers are as misguided as I suggest, but if an employer doesn't even know why employees work there, that's a problem. And those that think human resources is back office administration, holiday parties and compliance are the ones most likely to fall into this trap and face massive turnover once the economy recovers
Follow this Link: Firms, workers differ on why people stay in jobsPosted By Diane Pfadenhauer In Employee Relations , Trends | Permalink
Weight Discrimination - As Prevalent as Race Discrimination?
According to a recent study, weight discrimination, particularly against women, may be an emerging form of discrimination in the workplace. According to the study by The International Journal of Obesity:
"Among obese people, approximately 28 percent of men and 45 percent of women said they have experienced discrimination because of their weight."
There's a long slippery slope with a lot of confusion on whether conduct by an employer in such instances could amount to perceived disability under the American's With Disabilities Act, not to mention more protective state and local laws.Posted By Diane Pfadenhauer In Trends | Permalink
Text Messages Increasingly Used as Evidence in Sexual Harassment Claims
Textual Harassment? I recently reviewed a friend's cell phone bill. Her 14 year old son had sent 2500 text messages that month. Seems now that such frequency is not limited to 14 year olds. Your employees are texting and they're not being very nice. It used to be that email was considered the smoking gun of workplace investigations. If that's so, then text messages are now the exploding cannon!
According to a recent article in the National Law Journal (subscription required), “Perhaps the biggest culprits...are male bosses who are sending scandalous text messages to female employees, asking them out on dates or promising promotions in exchange for sexual favors. These texts are explosive evidence in lawsuits, and pretty tough to dispute.”
The article further cites a recent case where two collegiate athletes received a large settlement from a university after alleging that they were sexually harassed by their coach. He had apparently sent text messages which were useful in helping their claims.
As we've said here before, social media and technology policies are a must for every organization!
Posted By Diane Pfadenhauer In Employment Law , Policies & Procedures , Trends | Permalink
Facebook: Almost 30% of All Users are Between 35 and 54
It's time to button up those technology, web and social networking policies! Contrary to popular thinking, only about 25% of Facebook users are under 35. 24- to 34-year-olds represent only about 25 percent of users. The reasons for this growth in the older population signing on is attributed to more job networking (or perhaps seeing what their children are doing on there). Since January, the number of new users between ages 35 to 54 grew 190 percent, to 20.2 million, according to a study by iStrategyLabs, an online marketing firm. New users 55 and older grew 590 percent, to 5.9 million.
These are the core of your employees. And, why is it that there are still a fair number of people who have yet to embrace these policies? I suspect that while the number of people who use social networking sites is exploding, there are still a fair number of luddites out there. Some blogs have been around since the last decade (including this one for almost 5 years) and yet there are still people who have no idea what a blog is.
I attended a major networking meeting featuring a renowned speaker a few weeks back who swore that Twitter was just a flash in the pan and would soon disappear. So perhaps this brilliant speaker is right. Even if that were the case, there would be other sites and technological advances to replace it and those firms that don't adapt their policies will soon find themselves dealing with the perils that can come when trade secrets are lost or other damage occurs to the company through the errant use of these sites.
Posted By Diane Pfadenhauer In Policies & Procedures , Trends | Permalink
Four Day Work Week to Save Gas
"In a yearlong experiment aimed at reducing the state's energy costs and commuters' gasoline expenses, Utah is about to become the first state to switch to a four-day workweek for thousands of government employees.The initiative is projected to save about $3,000,000 a year in energy costs - not to mention the savings that employees will achieve by driving four days instead of five.
They will put in 10-hour days Monday through Thursday and have Fridays off, but they will be paid the same as before."
Posted By Diane Pfadenhauer In Trends | Permalink
Stress at Home Spills Over to the Workplace
Worker's Bring Economic Stress into the Office
Posted By Diane Pfadenhauer In Trends | Permalink
Super Bowl Monday "Flu" - 1.5 Million to Call in Sick
To make matters even more interesting, it is estimated that use of technoloy bandwith will surge as employees (well, at least those that actually go to work) look for game related coverage on the web.
So the next study should be this: Let's calculate all of the people who will talk about the game on Monday, all of those who will surf the net to look for web coverage and those who will call in sick. Then will add a calculation for lost productivity for discussions, football pools and the like which will take place prior to the game and tally that all up. Gee, with all this loss of productivity - why don't just make it a Federal Holiday?! Posted By Diane Pfadenhauer In Trends | Permalink
Thanks to Technology, Workplace Gossip Flourishes
- the office break room (36%),
- at a co-worker's desk, workstation or office (33%),
- through e-mail or instant messaging (10%).
- only 1% of employees say they head to the water cooler to learn what's really going on.
Small Firms Tend to Underuse HR
- smaller companies consider their HR departments as a separate arm of their business rather than integrating the functions into their day-to-day operations.
- while survey respondents said finding and recruiting talent was their biggest HR challenge, less than 33 percent employed a HR director.
- Among other findings, less than 10 percent of respondents listed training, performance management and compensation planning as their biggest HR challenges, and no respondents cited HR compliance as an area for improvement.
- finding and retaining people was a top concern, while employee management, coaching and leadership development were critical.
77% of Americans Hate Their Jobs
Time, a relatively new book discusses the 3 signs of a miserable job. I haven't read the book , but the summary provided by Time provides an interesting discussion a a few good points. Specifically, the three signs are:
Anonymity - when employees realize their manager has little interest in them a human being.
Irrelevance - when employees can’t see how their job makes a difference in the lives of others.
Immeasurement - the inability of employees to assess for themselves their contribution or success. Therefore, they must rely on the subjective opinions of others, usually their managers, to gauge their progress or contribution.
Jobs With the Highest Percentage of Drug Use
The groups with the highest percentage of drug use among full time workers:
- Food preparation and serving (17.4 percent)
- Construction (15.1 percent)
- Arts, design, entertainment, sports, and media (12.4 percent)
- Sales (9.6 percent)
- Installation, maintenance, and repair (9.5 percent)
The groups with the lowest prevalence of current drug use among full-time workers were:
- Protective service (3.4 percent)
- Community and social services (4.0 percent)
- Education, training, and library (4.1 percent)
- Legal (4.8 percent)
- Financial (4.9 percent)
Workaholism, the New Addiction
- A study in the December issue of Harvard Business Review provided new information on the rise in workaholics: Of extreme job holders, 48% say they are working an average of 16.6 more hours per week than they did five years ago.
- About 60% of high-earning individuals work more than 50 hours a week; 35%, more than 60 hours; and 10%, more than 80 hours. Add a typical one-hour commute, and a 60-hour week means leaving home at 7 a.m. and returning at 9 p.m. five days a week. Using the definition of extreme worker, the researchers found about 20% of high earners surveyed have extreme jobs.
- Extreme workers are defined in part as working 60 hours or more a week and have characteristics such as an unpredictable work flow, fast-paced work under a tight deadline, responsibility for profit and loss, a large number of subordinates and a lot of travel.
Posted By Diane Pfadenhauer In Trends | Permalink
Working Under the Influence of Alcohol
The Research Institute on Addictions has studied addictions since 1970 and a research center of the University at Buffalo since 1999.
Those interviewed were asked:
- how often during the previous year they drank alcohol within two hours of reporting to work and how oftern they drank during the workday, worked under the influence or worked with a hangover
Based on those responses, the study estimates that:
- 2.3 million workers (1.8 percent of the workforce) have consumed alcohol at least once before coming to work
- 8.9 million workers (7.1 percent of the workforce) have drank alcohol at least once during the workday.
- 2.1 million workers (1.7 percent of the workforce) worked under the influence of alcohol
- 11.6 million workers (9.2 percent of the workforce) worked with a hangover
Some additional findings:
- workplace alcohol use and impairment was more prevalent among men compared to women.
- working under the influence of alcohol or with a hangover was more prevalent among younger workers compared to older workers and among unmarried workers compared to married workers.
- among the broad occupation groups showing the highest rates of workplace alcohol use and impairment were the management occupations, sales occupations, arts/entertainment/sports/media occupations, food preparation and serving occupations, and building and grounds maintenance occupations.
- workers on the evening shift and night shift and those working a nonstandard shift involving irregular or flexible work hours were more likely to report drinking before coming to work compared to workers on a regular day shift. Those working a nonstandard shift were also more likely to use alcohol during the workday and report being at work under the influence of alcohol.
March Madness and the Workplace
- According to the FBI, the amount wagered on the NCAA men's basketball tournament this year will be $2.5 Billion.
- The estimated loss of productivity in the workplace for American employers will be $1.2 million.
Take a look.
Posted By Diane Pfadenhauer In Policies & Procedures , Trends | Permalink
Title Inflation, Grade Inflation, What's Next?
This all seems ridiculously absurd to me. Kind of reminds me of one of my corporate jobs when one of my fellow "VP's" was complaining that his office did not have the same number of ceiling tiles as a colleague. I once had a job interview at a relatively small employer where everyone who ran a department was called a President.
In academia, we complain about grade inflation, that all of the students want an "A" and that we are diminishing the quality of education. Aren't we doing the same here? Remember the saying about Vice Presidents in banks? Why do we need fancy titles to make us accountable? Isn't it really just to stroke our egos?
I just can't wait until Patricia comes up with the list of Assistant Chiefs, the Associate Chiefs, oh, and then there will be the Senior Chiefs!
Posted By Diane Pfadenhauer In Trends | Permalink
Skin Color Affects Hiring
- being one shade lighter has about the same effect as having an additional year of education.
- taller immigrants earn more than shorter ones, with an extra inch of height associated with a 1% increase in income
- the skin-color advantage was not due to preferential treatment for light-skinned people in their country of origin. The bias occurs in the U.S.
U.S. - Not so Family Friendly
"workplace policies for families in the United States are weaker than those of all high-income countries and many middle- and low-income countries. Notably, it says the U.S. is one of only five countries out of 173 in the survey that does not guarantee some form of paid maternity leave"Some of the findings also include:
· Unlike the U.S., fathers are granted paid paternity leave or paid parental leave in 65 countries, including 31 offering at least 14 weeks of paid leave.
·At least 107 countries protect working women's right to breast-feed
·At least 145 countries provide paid sick days, with 127 providing a week or more annually.Sadly, we will most likely resort to legislation instead of innovative policies and procedures in order to accomplish the same results.
Posted By Diane Pfadenhauer In Trends | Permalink
Walmart's Flexible Work Schedules
This concept, sometimes called "labor optimization" is an attempt by companies to use sophisticated software to efficiently plan their schedules so that they can be adequately staffed when customers need them, and not over-staffed when there are few customers around. One company that uses this method is Radio Shack - remember them - they're the ones that fired 400 employees via email.
While it may be good for the company, skimping here and saving a few dollars there, it is not likely to be beneficial to employees. Employees may not know their schedules until the last minute, may be sent home early without advance notice, may have overtime reduced and miss the opportunity to plan time with their families.
Sounds great, but has anyone thought about the possible increased recruiting and retention expenses that companies will incur as they try to lure people into these unstable jobs? Also, what about productivity? Will it make firms more productive, or will employees resent the whole system?
Posted By Diane Pfadenhauer In Trends | Permalink
Mileage Reimbursement Rates for 2007
- 48.5 cents per mile for business miles driven;
- 20 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes; and
- 14 cents per mile driven in service to a charitable organization.
Thanks to the folks at Shaw Valenza for reminding me of this.
Posted By Diane Pfadenhauer In Policies & Procedures , Trends | Permalink
2007 Benefit Plan Limits
Highly Compensated Employees**
Key Employee Officer Compensation**
Maximum Annual Benefit - Defined Benefit Plan**
Maximum Annual Contribution - Defined Contribution Plans**
ESOP Limits- Dollar limit for determining lengthening of 5-year period*
ESOP Limits - Dollar amount for determining max. amount subject to 5-year distribution*
Maximum SIMPLE contribution
FICA Wage Base ***
*Calendar year limitation
**For plan years beginning in the calendar year. The compensation limit and key employee officer compensation also apply for purposes of Code Section 409A.
***Calendar year limitation for FICA withholding purposes and for plan years beginning in the calendar year for retirement plan purposes.Posted By Diane Pfadenhauer In Compensation & Benefits , Trends | Permalink
Workplace Violence Statistics from the BLS
- The prevalence of and various types of security organization have in place
- The specifics on the existence of and types of policies in place
In addition, follow these link to various governmental resources on violence prevention:
- The Centers for Disease Control's Risk Factors & Prevention Strategies on Violence in the Workplace
- the DOL's resources on violence prevention in the workplace.
- The DOL's website page on Workplace Violence
Posted By Diane Pfadenhauer In Trends | Permalink
The "Germiest" Jobs
1. TeacherAnd where do all of those germs hang out? Phones, desks, computer keyboards, and computer "mice."
4. Radio DJ
6. Television producer
Thanks to Whatnot at Work for making us want to go wash our hands. Posted By Diane Pfadenhauer In Trends | Permalink
2007 Benefit Planning
Health care costs increases for 2007 are predicted to be the lowest in years. According to Hewitt Associates, most health care plans should see an average cost increase of 7.7% in 2007. Despite this seemingly modest increase, it still outpaces inflation and employee salary increases. For example,
In 2007, Hewitt projects, salaried employees can expect a base salary increase of 3.7 percent.1 Therefore, an employee making $40,000 today who receives the average salary increase ($1,480) will use 16 percent of that salary increase to pay for the increase in health care costs next year.
A few metropolitan areas, however, will continue to see double-digit increases. These include San Antonio (13.1 percent), St. Louis (13 percent), Hartford (12.8 percent), Milwaukee (11.4 percent), Cleveland/Akron (10 percent) and San Francisco (10.5 percent). In addition, Hewitt expects the following increases by plan type:
7.0 percent for preferred provider organization (PPO) plans
8.0 percent for health maintenance organization (HMO) plans
9.0 percent for point-of-service (POS) and indemnity plans.
Scary to think that this is actually good news.
Posted By Diane Pfadenhauer In Compensation & Benefits , Trends | Permalink
Time to Polish That Resume
Posted By Diane Pfadenhauer In Staffing, Recruitment, Selection , Trends | Permalink
Perils of the Graveyard Shift
- The divorce rate for night-shift workers is as much as six times higher than the rest of the population.
- Late shift work often leaves children without chaperones as children are often unsupervised by a sleeping parent.
- Even if night workers do get sufficient sleep, their sleep is of less quality than those of us who sleep at night. Because of our natural circadian rhythms, our body expects to sleep at night. When we reverse it, we may sleep, but not as deeply.
- Sleep apnea is twice as prevalent among night shift workers than the general population
- Night workers are 20% more likely to suffer a severe accident at work.
- 24 hours of sleep deprivation is equivalent to a blood alcohol level of .10.
- Some studies show a higher rate of cancer, heart disease, and gastrointestinal disorders.
Employer Sponsored Elder Care Benefits On the Rise
- By 2020, one in three U.S. households is expected to be involved in caring for elderly or disabled relatives, up from one in four today
- About a quarter of all companies currently provide some basic elder-care benefits, mainly referrals that help employees find caregivers and legal services
- Some companies are adding such benefits even as they cut back in other areas, especially health-care coverage, where costs are soaring. Why? Because they are cost effective.
- leave sharing programs
- allowing employees to add an adult relative to the employer's health plan, such as an elderly parent
- state disability programs, such as in California, that allow for partially paid family leave
- emergency elder care services
Posted By Diane Pfadenhauer In Compensation & Benefits , Trends | Permalink
Technology Addiction - Yet Another Reason to Sue?
Rutgers University recent issued a press release quoting a Rutgers prof who notes that:
"...the fast and relentless pace of technology-enhanced work environments creates a source of stimulation that may become addictive. While addiction to work has been a widespread phenomenon for some time, ...employers may face legal liability for these addictions."
"...if an employer manipulates an individual’s propensity toward workaholism or technology addiction for the employer’s benefit, the legal perspective shifts. When professional advancement (or even survival) seems to depend on 24/7 connectivity, it becomes increasingly difficult to distinguish between choice and manipulation.”
How nice, another reason to sue....
Posted By Diane Pfadenhauer In Employment Law , Miscellaneous , Trends | Permalink
America's Most Dangerous Jobs
1. Fishers and fishing workers = 118.4
2. Logging workers = 92.9
3. Aircraft pilots = 66.9
4. Structural iron and steel workers = 55.6
5. Refuse and recyclable material collectors = 43.8
6. Farmers and ranchers = 41.1
7. Electrical power line installers/repairers = 32.7
8. Driver/sales workers and truck drivers = 29.1
9. Miscellaneous agricultural workers = 23.2
10. Construction laborers = 22.7
Posted By Diane Pfadenhauer In Trends | Permalink
SHRM's Top 10 Human Resources Trends and a Few of My Own
- Rising health care costs
- Implication of increased global competitiveness
- Demographic changes (aging workforce and retirement of baby boom generation)
- Rising health care costs.
- Increased use of outsourcing (offshoring) of jobs to other countries.
- Threat of increased health care/medical costs on the economic competitiveness of the United States.
- Increased demand for work/life balance.
- Retirement of large numbers of baby boomers (those born between 1945 and 1964) around the same time.
- New attitudes toward aging and retirement as baby boomers reach retirement age.
- Rise in the number of individuals and families without health insurance.
- Increase in identity theft.
- Work intensification as employers try to increase productivity with fewer employees.
- Vulnerability of technology to attack or disaster.
- The economy here in the US. Our national debt is the biggest it has ever been, our all-voluntary military is over-committed around the world, and interest rates and energy costs continue to rise.
- Global issues - although Hezbollah and Israel were not bombing each other when the survey was taken, I think that continuing global conflict will have a significant impact on the workplace. The potential for terrorism to increase rather than decrease is real. Every good HR professional knows that animosity among groups often spills into the workplace. HR professionals will be confronted with the very real challenge of resolving these issues. Regarding the vulnerability of technology to attack or disaster, I'd be worried about the people too!
- The cost of energy - Its effect on commuting, the willingness of employees to commute long distances, and the demand by employees for flexibility. Skyrocketing energy costs have the potential to radically change the way we work and do business in this country.
- Last, but certainly not least - how will HR professional help their organizations remain competitive with these seismic transformations?
Posted By Diane Pfadenhauer In Trends | Permalink
Part Time and/or Flexible Work Hours - A Growing Trend or Thing of the Past?
Newsday had an interesting article discussing the continuing firestorm surrounding the Nassau County District Attorney's recent mandate that all part time employees either beging working full time or resign. For those of you who have not been following this story, Kathleen Rice, Nassau's recently elected D.A. issued this mandate fairly recently claiming that since criminals don't work part time, her ADA's shouldn't either. She's been taking quite a few pot shots because of this. As a single person with no children, she's been accused of not appreciating the issues concerning working mothers. She also made the decision to change this long standing policy of her predecessor which permitted part time work - a policy that for all intents and purposes seemed to work.
I spoke to Carrie Mason-Draffen at Newsday last week who was writing an article on the subject and shared my views (some of which she kindly quoted at the end of the article). Seems to me that many law firms have adapted quite nicely to the concept of employees working part time. In fact, the article discusses one law firm here on Long Island that recegnizes many of the benefits. Bottom line - flexibility is something that employers will need to provide more of not less!Posted By Diane Pfadenhauer In Policies & Procedures , Trends | Permalink
Summer R&R - Maybe Not
Say Goodbye to Retiree Health Benefits
The results of a survey of Fortune 500 companies by the consulting firm, Watson Wyatt, tells us that there is a growing trend for Fortune 500 companies to reduce or eliminate retiree health benefits. According to the survey:
- Ninety-five percent of the mostly Fortune 500 companies polled expect to further restrict their retiree health plans over the next five years, and 14% plan to stop providing coverage entirely.
- About a third of U.S. employers offered current workers retiree coverage in 2005, down from about two-thirds in 1988, according to a recent study by the non-profit Kaiser Family Foundation.
- According to Standard & Poor's, plans for retiree benefits at S&P 500 companies, excluding pensions, were underfunded by $321 billion, meaning promises to retirees are only 22% funded.
When Will the Cost of Family Health Coverage be More Than Your Salary?
With family premiums (HMO and other plan types) hovering at the $11,000 mark, and rates increasing by, say, 7% per year, we'll have health insurance costs of $20,000 per family in ten years.
The 7% increase quoted is a wildly optimistic figure, as rates have increased at least 9% each year for the last five years. And, with the number of people without insurance increasing every year, further adding to cost-shifting to insureds; tighter eligibility requirements for Medicaid; and increased employee cost-sharing the middle class (read - voters) will be increasingly demanding action - and if the next presidential election does not have health care as a top theme, it will only be because of a horrendous natural or man-made disaster. Although one could reasonably consider the US health care system a man-made disaster, I'm thinking more on the order of foreign policy. What does this mean for you? More pain before our elected officials get their collective act together.
Joe makes a good point. This is a death spiral/perfect storm for our health system. Sometimes our leaders would have us think that social issues, with little economic consequence, are the most important issues facing the nation. The reality is that we all have differing opinions on many of those issues, but they should not cloud the reality that we have significant issues, such as health care, to face as a nation. Posted By Diane Pfadenhauer In Compensation & Benefits , Trends | Permalink
Corporate Blogging Trends
Thanks to Micro Persuasion for the tip. Posted By Diane Pfadenhauer In Policies & Procedures , Trends | Permalink
World Cup Soccer and the Workplace
According to this article:
- One in ten employees in the UK will apply for sick leave.
- The World Cup will cost the British economy about $7.36 billion in productivity
- In Brazil, banks close and cities virtually shut down during big games by the Brazilian team
- In Italy, "...It shuts down completely...Everyone goes to bars or friends houses. Those that remain at work will still take off the two hours or so needed to watch the game on a television there."
How Private is Your Online Life
"Many companies that recruit on college campuses have been using search engines like Google and Yahoo to conduct background checks on seniors looking for their first job. But now, college career counselors and other experts say, some recruiters are looking up applicants on social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace, Xanga and Friendster, where college students often post risqué or teasing photographs and provocative comments about drinking, recreational drug use and sexual exploits in what some mistakenly believe is relative privacy."And we thought that we had to warn people about tattoos and body piercings. As lives become more and more public with details being disclosed by individuals on the internet onto these networking sites, undoubtedly there ends up being a conflict between what an employer may view as poor judgment and an applicant, such as a recent college graduate, viewing as just fun. When was the last time you Googled yourself? Posted By Diane Pfadenhauer In Staffing, Recruitment, Selection , Trends | Permalink
Fourth of July Holiday Practices
This is one of those years when companies have to consider their options when planning the Fourth of July Holiday. Since the holiday falls on a Tuesday this year, some employers will be giving Monday and Tuesday off, while others will be giving only Tuesday off. This survey from my buddies at HRNY (the SHRM Chapter in New York City) shows that:
- 45.9 percent of respondents will give both Monday and Tuesday off
- 54.1 percent of respondents will be giving just Tuesday off
So, let me guess how many people required to work on Monday will really be working hard.....
The results of the HRNY Fourth of July Holiday Survey can also be found on their website.Posted By Diane Pfadenhauer In Compensation & Benefits , Policies & Procedures , Trends | Permalink
Don't Think "It Can't Happen Here"
There has been a fair amount of press lately on things getting out of hand in the workplace and in sports. Recent coverage of the employee spanking at a training session and coverage of the Duke lacrosse scandal are only the tip of the iceberg. This story of yet another office prank which went a bit too far suggests that without the proper oversight, this kind of thing can happen anywhere, despite the belief by many that "it can't happen here." In addition, with all of the focus on Duke, this site (not for the faint of heart) shows that questionable behavior occurs in more places than you think.
As we conduct workplace investigations at my firm, we periodically find that the corporation has no idea that inappropriate behavior was occurring. The reality, however, is that remote locations, without proper oversight can develop cultures and mores of their own, some of which are not the type that the organization will want portrayed on the front page of the newspaper.
We all certainly did foolish things as kids in college. However, when this apparent lack of judgment spills over into the workplace, we often wonder what happened. The truth is that it is all around us and now is the time to start thinking about it and doing something before your firm ends up on the front page of the newspaper with people saying "what were they thinking?"Posted By Diane Pfadenhauer In Policies & Procedures , Trends | Permalink
Health Benefits Planning: Now This Makes Sense
Some companies have begun to eliminate or reduce co-payments for prescriptions drugs for chronic ailments in their health plans. According to this article in the Boston Globe:
"Right now, this country's number-one approach to the high cost of healthcare is to make employees pay more... but cost sharing is a blunt instrument and the evidence actually shows that if you make people with chronic illnesses pay more, they stop buying the lifesaving things they need and companies wind up paying more."
"Concerned about escalating health insurance premiums, Marriott International Inc. began eliminating co-payments on generic drugs for workers with chronic conditions such as asthma, diabetes, and heart disease last year. The benefit, for 75,000 US employees and their dependents, includes a 50 percent cut in co-payments for brand-name drugs."
It is not uncommon for someone who is fully insured with a chronic condition to take a half a dozen prescriptions. At $20 each and a spouse and children, all of these prescriptions add up. When money is tight, people are less likely to fill a prescription. Thankfully, at least some companies understand that a few bottles of statins cost far less than a quadruple bypass.Posted By Diane Pfadenhauer In Compensation & Benefits , Trends | Permalink
Gas Prices and Telecommuting
The recent spike in gasoline prices and the prediction that prices will either remain this high for some time or even increase as the summer approaches has fueled an increase in telecommuting. Tonight, I filled up my tank for a trip tomorrow at $3.19 for regular unleaded. It was only $3.04 a week ago when I last filled up. The Christian Science Monitor has a comprehensive article discussing this trend toward telecommuting. According to the article, there are 26 million Americans that work from home at least one day per month. That notwithstanding, there still seems to be resistance based on the premise that the boss needs to be looking over employees' shoulders lest they goof off.
On the one hand, employees who are not in the office may miss the opportunity for impromptu meetings and chatter, but on the other hand they need not spend countless hours in the car in traffic. What do commuters do in the car while they're commuting? Talk on their cell phones, read their email - all things we know are inherently dangerous, but because we feel compelled to be available 24/7, traffic is perceived as wasted time and we respond by multi-tasking.
The article also offers these tips to handle requests for telecommuting and those considering requesting the option of telecommuting:
For Employees: Ask yourself: Do I have the self-discipline necessary to work at home with minimal supervision? Am I well organized? Does my job lend itself to telecommuting?
- If the answers are yes, prepare a written proposal for your manager. Outline specifically how the plan will work and how it will benefit the company.
- Indicate that it is often possible to be more productive at home, where there may be fewer interruptions than in the office.
- Assure your manager that you will be available for conference calls and meetings by phone.
- Suggest a trial period. If it doesn't work out, the arrangement will end.
- Be sure you have adequate technology at home, as well as appropriate work space. The kitchen table won't do.
For Managers: Weigh the pros and cons of telecommuting by asking:
- Does this employee have the right temperament to work alone?
- Am I willing to be open-minded and give the arrangement a chance to succeed?
- How will I keep in touch with telecommuters?
All of this will be much easier when we stop judging most of our employees by face time and focus on deliverable, measurable results.Posted By Diane Pfadenhauer In Policies & Procedures , Trends | Permalink
Finally, a National Pandemic Flu Plan
The White House issued today a national plan to respond to a flu pandemic. For those interested in the details, here is the link to the Pandemic Influenza Implementation Plan. For those looking for the quick details as they apply to the workplace, here they are:
- It is estimated that up to 40% of the workforce could be out of work at one time - imagine the effect on productivity and the impact on your experience in your health plan.
- In order to prevent transmission in the workplace, the report suggests:
1) Advising those who are infected to stay home or do the normal things that are suggested with regard to avoiding colds - washing hands, covering nose and mouth when sneezing, etc.
2) People around individuals with influenza-like symptoms should maintain separation of at least 3 feet from that individual
3) Develop policies for isolating and excusing employees who become ill at work; allowing unscheduled leave for employees with ill household members; restricting business-related travel where appropriate; and establish return to work gudelines.
While these are fine recommendations, we all know that the burden will fall on the shoulders of human resources who will be asked to play germ police. So, now is the time to be putting your plan into place.Posted By Diane Pfadenhauer In Trends | Permalink
The End of the Typical Workday
According to the WSJ today (registration required), evenings and weekends are becoming a growing part of workers' schedules. Interestingly, and according to the article, only about 30% of American workers have a typical 40 hour, Monday through Friday, 9 - 5 kind of job. I often wondered when I would take a day off from my corporate job what all those people were doing in the stores, thinking "don't they have to work?!" Now that I am a full time college professor and have my own firm, my hours are much more flexible. Unfortunately, the definition of flexible often means working all the time. However, I occasionally get to sneak away to handle mundane chores and/or errands during the weekday when lines are short and parking lots are empty.
I was having a conversation with a high level HR professional colleague a while back. He was describing to me his new boss. While he routinely makes himself available 24/7 if needed, his boss is still living in the dark ages, going so far as to keep a secret calendar indicating days that she suspects he has not "put in a full day." So when are we going to stop measuring productivity by face time and start measuring results? It's people like this (a VERY high level HR exec.) who give HR folks a bad name!Posted By Diane Pfadenhauer In Trends | Permalink
Love is Bliss - But Only With Health Insurance
Yesterday's Wall Street Journal print edition published an interesting story on its front cover - the role of health insurance in online dating. According to the Journal:
"Health insurance is expensive, complex and bureaucratic. These days, it's also sexy. Right up there with washboard abs, a steady job and a fun-loving personality..."
"Those who have it sometimes flaunt it as an asset, a sign to potential mates that they are serious, professional and grounded. Others troll for partners with blue-chip policies because they need coverage themselves, or want evidence -- short of asking for a credit report -- that a prospect isn't a slacker."
It's a sad commentary that we used to take the existence of health insurance for granted. Although the article is seemingly comical, I think is demonstrates the sad truth that fewer and fewer can be complacent about their health insurance coverage. Posted By Diane Pfadenhauer In Trends | Permalink
Time Off Policies Undergoing Change
Employers have begun to rethink their time off policies and the trend is away from specific days off for specific reasons and toward more of a universal time bank. Under the universal time back theory, employees are given a set number of days to use for any reason they wish. They no longer need to classify the time as vacation, sick or personal.
This article goes on to suggest that more employers should be looking at policies in connection with disasters and disruptions, noting that most companies have no policies on this subject. That notwithstanding, in the face of disasters many companies are very generous, continuing pay as long as they can.
One of the big problems here is the seemingly inflexibility of our nation's wage and hour laws. If we dock an exempt employee who works at any point during the week, the Department of Labor will have a fit!Posted By Diane Pfadenhauer In Compensation & Benefits , Policies & Procedures , Trends | Permalink
Auto Industry Benefit Changes
The automobile industry is finally waking up and adopting contribution schemes that most of us in the private sector have become familiar with over the years. Specifically:
-Chrysler will require contributions to health insurance on a sliding scale based upon income - "Top Chrysler executives, on average, will pay about $1,500 more per year for health insurance in 2007. Midlevel managers will pay about $450. Administrative employees will not pay anything additional in 2007, although their costs could go up in later years."
-Ford will now require employees who wish to cover their spouses to contribute more ($110/month) if their spouse is able to obtain coverage elsewhere. They are managing this on the honor system right now.
-According to a study done for Chrysler, Mercer Consulting noted that 19% of Fortune 500 companies use a sliding salary scale to determine health care contributions.
While the article quotes auto industry leaders as viewing themselves as "innovative," it seems to me that other industries and companies have been implementing these types of contribution systems for years.Posted By Diane Pfadenhauer In Compensation & Benefits , Trends | Permalink
The Impact of Meth in the Workplace
After suffering with a miserable cold for several days I had run out of Sudafed. I went to my local drug store only to find that all of the Sudafed and generic knock-offs were behind the pharmacy counter, to be dispensed by the pharmacist. The reason? Meth. Seems that Sudafed and the like are used to make Methamphetamine - a highly addictive drug (called the "poor man's cocaine" by some). When I scroll through the channels on my television looking for something to watch, occasionally I have heard mention of the problem. Chalking it up to media hype, I often ignored the stories. After encountering the Sudafed police in the drug store the other day, however, I thought differently. This article discusses the impact of Meth on our society and the workplace. Note the following (some of which is attributable to a study at the University of Arkansas):
¬?each Meth user costs an employer an average of $47,500 annually
¬?the study examined the six major categories of cost Meth users impose on employers: Increased absenteeism, lost productivity, increased turnover, increased employee theft, increased worker compensation claims and increased healthcare premium costs
¬?Meth use has increased among U.S. workers by 86 percent over the past five years
¬?Meth addicts often bankroll their habits via credit card fraud, forgeries, commercial burglaries and robberies, and shoplifting cold medicines and other products used to cook the addictive chemical stimulant
According to the experts, users exhibit erratic and sometimes violent behavior as a result of staying awake for days on end. Imagine the impact we could have if we could, at a minimum, reduce the number of employees resorting to this dangerous drug - on our society and on our companies.Posted By Diane Pfadenhauer In Trends | Permalink
Light Up and Pay More for Health Insurance
"Meijer, Gannett, American Financial, Pepsi and General Mills are among the companies already charging or planning to charge smokers higher premiums. The amounts range from about $20 to $50 a month. "And, according to Hewitt Associates, the trend has become so popular that it will begin tracking it in its annual benefits survey! Some interesting smoking-related statistics:
- a general benefits survey of 950 U.S.-based employers last year showed that at least 41% used some form of financial incentives or penalties in their health care plans.
- at least 8% to 10% of the businesses probably aimed some of the incentives or penalties at smokers.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates $92 billion in lost wages annually in the United States from smokers who die prematurely. In addition, the economic cost of smoking includes $75.5 billion per year in direct health care costs.
What to Do About Employees Who Lose Their ID Badges
Mac over at the Employment Law Bulletin has an interesting post about a company requiring employees who want access to a certain data center to allow a human implantable microchip to be implanted into their triceps. Yup, it's true. Now, I'm thinking about animals that could have been saved after the hurricanes in the Gulf region last summer, but employees??!! This opens the door to a whole host of issues, none of which I like. Now all the HR folks out there worrying about employees who lose their ID badges (and what to charge them for their carelessness) will be signing up for human implants!Posted By Diane Pfadenhauer In Trends 1 Comments | Permalink
First Grader in the Hot Seat for Sexual Harassment at School
According to this article, a first grader at a Boston area elementary school has been suspended for sexual harassment. "...after he put two fingers inside a classmate's waistband, school officials told his mother, Berthena Dorinvil. The boy told her he only touched the girl's shirt after the girl touched him." Experts say only in rare, troubling cases can children that young truly sexually harass one another. Why? Because according to the experts, they don't understand what it is.Posted By Diane Pfadenhauer In Trends , Weird News | Permalink
Public Pensions Rise While Private Pensions Fall
There has been a great deal of discussion of late regarding the trend in the private sector to scale back on pension and retirement offerings. This article discusses the opposite trend occurring in the public sector - an trend upward in pension and retirement benefits for public sector employees. According to the article:
- A December study of 85 big public pensions in all 50 states ‚Äî covering three-fourths of public employees nationwide ‚Äî found that governments continued to enhance benefit formulas, ease early retirement and improve other benefits from 2000 through 2004 despite states' financial problems. The increases were enacted on top of even larger benefit changes approved from 1996 to 2000. The study, conducted by the Wisconsin Legislature, is one of the most comprehensive on the issue.
- Average annual benefits for retired state and local workers grew 37% to $19,875 from 2000 to 2004, the most recent data available, according to the Census Bureau. The rising payments reflect the early retirement of baby boomers, who started to qualify for full benefits in 2001, at age 55, under most government pensions.
At the same time, "the portion of the private workforce enrolled in plans that pay monthly benefits for life has fallen from 39% in 1980 to 18% in 2004, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute."
Seems to me that our elected representatives may be giving away the store, rather than dealing with reducing costs now. It's easier to give away something that will come due when you are not around to be responsible for it. On the other hand, private sector employees will continue to feel the consequences of reduced private sector retirement benefits as their tax dollars fund these lucrative public sector benefits.Posted By Diane Pfadenhauer In Compensation & Benefits , Retirement , Trends 1 Comments | Permalink
Only in New York...
At about the time we learned that the transit workers had rejected their proposed contract by a mere 7 votes, the news that Wall Street bonuses set a new record of $21.5 billion for 2005 appeared. What a contrast.Posted By Diane Pfadenhauer In Compensation & Benefits , Miscellaneous , Trends | Permalink
CEO Pay Rises 12% in 2005
The Christian Science Monitor published an article recently concerning the SEC's desire to promote more disclosure of CEO pay. The article begins with a host of extravagant perks available to CEO's. The bottom line, however, is that
"Such revelations of CEO compensation - a few among dozens of similar examples - have helped spur a drive to make corporate pay more transparent. [The SEC] is expected to require companies to provide more details about how they pay top honchos, including pumped-up pensions and weekend family picnics on Nantucket via the company jet....As a result, shareholders, watchdog groups, and publications such as Business Week should find it easier to tabulate a CEO's total compensation. And companies may also now have to give more details about what departing executives...will make once they leave."
From the perspective of employee engagement and communication, organizations need to be cognizant of the perception that these seemingly excessive perks and compensation packages can make. Employees who will average a 3.5% raise this year and pay more for their benefits do not want to hear about their bosses getting 12% increases and perks that are unrelated to performance.Posted By Diane Pfadenhauer In Compensation & Benefits , Trends | Permalink
More on Big Brother
As a follow up to my previous post on NYC monitoring blood sugar levels of diabetics, Julie Ferguson at the Workers Comp Insider discusses companies using carrot and stick approaches to "encourage" employee wellness. Citing a recent article in Forbes, she notes how several companies have begun to implement requirements including requiring annual wellness assessments (or requiring employees to pay the highest contribution levels), smoker surcharges, and mandating physical exams for employees. In addition "at least four states -- Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky and West Virginia -- now charge higher premiums to state employees who smoke and lower premiums to non-smokers, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures."
It will be interesting to see if this trend continues. While it is important for employers to control spiraling health care costs, at what point will employers cross the line and penalize employees for conditions which result from a genetic predisposition as opposed to a condition or disease which resulted solely from lifestyle choices? It will get really interesting...Posted By Diane Pfadenhauer In Compensation & Benefits , Trends | Permalink
The most depressing day of the year is "officially" today, January 24th according to a recent post on The T&D Blog, citing research from Cardiff University. Seems that bad weather, all of that holiday debt, failed New Year's resolutions and the like lead to the doldrums, which peak on January 24th. All of this can lead to an increase in employee absenteeism. Notwithstanding the fact that it was about 60 degrees here in NY this weekend, I suppose that by about this time, we've fallen off of our diet and exercise plans, and the credit card bills have arrived. Look at it this way, there are only about eight and a half weeks until spring!Posted By Diane Pfadenhauer In Trends 1 Comments | Permalink
Big Brother is Watching...
A recent article in the Washington Post informs us that New York City has begun to require testing laboratories to report the blood sugar levels of all patients whose blood is submitted for testing in order to track the prevalence of diabetes in the city.
"...the New York effort marks the first time any government has required routine reporting of laboratory test results for a major chronic, noninfectious disease so that government officials can scrutinize how well doctors and patients are treating it."
The problem here is that on the one hand we have laws in New York to protect lawful off-duty activity. Now we have the city of New York tracking blood sugar levels. Will they be knocking on the door next to remind us to exercise and watch our consumption of processed flour? And, what will happen with all of this data? Yes diabetes is an awful disease, but I suspect there are other ways to educate the public and eradicate these conditions in our population.
Thanks to Johannes Schenk of Schenk & Associates for bringing this to our attention.
Posted By Diane Pfadenhauer In Trends | Permalink
Martin Luther King Holiday Practices
Almost one third of businesses will recognize Martin Luther King Day as a paid holiday on Monday, January 16th. According to this survey, this continues the trend where more and more employers are choosing to recognize this holiday.Posted By Diane Pfadenhauer In Policies & Procedures , Trends | Permalink
IBM Continues Trend of Freezing Pensions
IBM just recently announced that it will freeze is defined benefit pension plan as of 2008 for all of its existing employees. IBM follows in a continuing trend by other seemingly healthy employers who have chosen to freeze their existing pension plans and focus on their 401(k) plans. These include NCR, Circuit City (in 2004), Hewlett Packard and Verizon (2005) and now IBM in 2006. According to this article, quoting research by Watson Wyatt, 89% of Fortune 100 companies offered traditional defined benefit plans in 1985. By 2001, however, that number had fallen to just over 50% by 2004.
I suspect we'll likely see this trend continue. As a result, there will be more pressure on HR professionals to provide greater educational resources to employees as they assume more of the risks associated with planning for their own retirements.Posted By Diane Pfadenhauer In Compensation & Benefits , Retirement , Trends | Permalink
Pfadenhauer's List of Top Workplace Events of 2005
There have been a few blog postings of late referring to events of the last year which are worthy of note. In that same theme, I decided to create my own list. Here is Diane's list of some of the more notable workplace happenings, trends and events of 2005 (OK, there's 29 of them, which has no rhyme or reason other than that's what came to me....). One more caveat - they're not in any particular order...
- The passing of management guru Peter Drucker
- The Supreme Court (finally) recognizes the disparate impact theory of discrimination under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act
- Katrina, Rita and Wilma
- Continued Erosion of Pension Benefits
- The NYC Transit Strike Settlement - Opening the door for union employee contributions to health insurance in the public sector
- The School District Scandals on Long Island - Roslyn, et. al., which opened the door to voter outcry and call for greater accountability
- Elliot Spitzer and his quest against insurance companies (among others) - resulting in, presumably, greater objectivity in the quoting of insurance premiums
- New COBRA regulations fully in effect (boring, yes, but most aren't thinking about it)
- New rules for nonqualified deferred compensation plans
- Expensing of stock options...
- This Blog won Best Recruiting Law Blog sponsored by Jobster and Recruiting.com
- New USERRA Regulations and poster
- Gas prices this past Fall - rethinking telecommuting
- The OFCCP finally decides what an applicant is!
- New York Security and Notification Act
- Family coverage for healthcare tops $11,000 annually
- Medicare Part D and trying to figure out what creditable coverage is...
- Social Security turns 70
- Mass defection of the Teamsters, SEIU and others from the AFL-CIO
- New I-9 Form Issued
- The Zubulake verdict after landmark rulings on what seemed to be a gazillion motions
- The Roth 401k
- California's Sexual Harassment Training Requirements for Managers by 12/31
- Baby Boomers are now protected by the ADEA
- SHRM finally woke up and set up RSS feeds for its website - too bad you have to have a password to access all that good information...
- Changes to Section 125 Plan "Use It or Lose It Rules"
- The new EEO-1 Form
- Changes to the New York City Human Rights Law
- New 401k Automatic Rollover Rules
Happy New Year everyone!Posted By Diane Pfadenhauer In Miscellaneous , Trends | Permalink
Flexible Work Schedules Positively Impact the Bottom Line
Often those requesting flexible work schedules are labled as loafers more interested in their personal lives than being committed to the daily grind. This interesting article in the Christian Science Monitor suggests that flexible work schedules can, in fact, have a positive influence on the bottom line. Some interesting findings:
- Deloitte saved $41.5 million in employee turnover costs in 2003, based on the number of professionals who said they would have left if they didn't have flexible work hours.
- AstraZeneca found that "commitment scores" - measures of employee attitudes that affect their effort and performance - were 28 percent higher for employees who said they had the flexibility they needed than for those who said they did not.
- A pilot program at a PNC Financial Services Group operations center compressed each employee's workweek into four 10-hour days. Because of employees' cross-training and staggered days, customers were served for an extra hour and a half each day, and the time for completing certain transactions was cut by 50 percent or more. Absenteeism and turnover declined.
The article further notes that fewer than half of all companies in the United States offer flextime plans. As we spend more and more time at the office or attached to work through email, pagers, Blackberries, PDA's and the like, our ability to attend to personal issues on nonwork time is compromised. As a result, employees are forced to take time off to attend to issues when flexibility in scheduling would enable them to plan their lives to meet all of their demands. Makes sense to me!Posted By Diane Pfadenhauer In Policies & Procedures , Trends | Permalink
Bah Humbug! Employers Spending Less on Holiday Festivities This Year
According this recent article, employers are likely to spend less this holiday season on parties, gifts and the like. Here's what you can expect:
- 87% of employers will have some type of holiday celebration, down from 95% last year. Only 17% of companies expect to have more expensive parties this year.
- More companies are doing away with the year-end bonus. About 60% of companies will not award them this year, according to Hewitt Associates.
- In 1988, more than half of companies gave gifts. This year less than 62% will.
IRS Announces Mileage Reimbursement Rate for 2006
The IRS has issued the new "official" mileage reimbursement rate for 2006. While there was an out of cycle adjustment for this year up to 48.5 cents, alas next year the rate will only be 44.5 cents/mile. A few other rates of note:
- deductible medical or moving expenses will be 18 cents a mile next year.
- a special rate, 32 cents a mile, has been established for deductions related to Hurricane Katrina charitable service. Organizations can reimburse volunteers working on Hurricane Katrina charity efforts at the business rate of 44.5 cents.
Background Checks - Are They Really Accurate?
There has been an explosive growth in background checks conducted by employers, since 09/11, on applicants and, more recently, current employees. All to often, however, employers who are looking to skimp on price may find that the report is inaccurate or incomplete or that the company was sloppy in its collection of information. This article in the Christian Science Monitor describes some of these problems.
So who is doing background checks and what are they finding? According to the article, approximately 80% of employers now conduct some sort of background check. The results of these checks are interesting. According to one survey, 41.6% had motor vehicle violations, 39% had bad credit, 26% had discrepancies on their resumes, 8% had criminal records, 8.2% had inaccuracies about their education and 3.3% tested positive for illegal drugs.
The article reminds us that not all is so rosy in the industry. Often, I suggest that you get what you pay for. So many times I have seen background screens come back with questionable flags only because the company failed to verify or continue to search for accurate information. It's the automated process of searching potentially inaccurate public record databases, human error or just plain negligence on the part of the screening company. Much of this is caused by employers who don't want to spend the money to work with a reputable firm upon whose results they can rely.
Lest we also forget that the FACT Act also applies to background checks conducted by third parties. There is a link on the sidebar on the left for more information. In addition, see one of my previous posts on this subject here.Posted By Diane Pfadenhauer In Employment Law , Policies & Procedures , Trends | Permalink
Severance Pay Trends = Less
According to the outplacement firm, Lee Hecht Harrison, there is a continuing downward trend in the amount of severance pay provided by companies to laid off employees. According to the survey, discussed here,
- Packages with two or more weeks pay per year of service fell from 55 percent in 2001 to 51 percent this year among executives, still well above 37 percent in 1998.
- Packages among managers and functional staff declined from 40 percent to 38 percent this year, compared to just 29 percent in 1998.
- Thirty-three percent of administrative staff (secretarial and support staff) were given packages with two or more weeks this year, compared to 29 percent in 2001 and 23 percent in 1998.
- The percentage of companies giving less than one week severance pay per year of service increased. Such packages were given to 13 percent of executives this year, compared to 4 percent in 2001 and 6 percent in 1998. Sixteen percent of managers and functional staff received such packages, compared to 6 percent in 2001 and 7 percent in 1998 and 15 percent of administrative staff received such packages this year, compared to 9 percent in both 2001 and 1998.
- Forty-nine percent of companies offer severance to some part-time employees, up from 39 percent in 2001.
- Median minimum severance has remained relatively stable since 1998 at four weeks for senior executives and executives, three weeks for managers and functional staff and two weeks for administrative staff.
- Median maximum severance has increased to 52 weeks for senior executives and to 28 weeks for executives, both up from 26 weeks. Median maximum severance remained at 26 weeks for managers and functional staff and administrative staff.
The Downside of Our Electronic Leashes
CNN had an article recently on some of the downside of all of the wireless technology available to us. The article suggests that in the past we would go to a conference or on a business trip and be way from the office, returning calls upon our return. Now, if we email someone at 5:00 p.m., we're disappointed if we don't have a reply by the following morning. I am often struck by how much people need to check their blackberries and the like. For example, when I teach graduate classes on Saturday, many of my students run to the hall on their breaks and immediately get on the phone. For what?
The article suggests that because of all of this technology, the barriers between work and time off have blurred considerably. According to the article:
"About 71 percent of America's 108 million households own at least one cell phone, according to Forrester Research Inc. More than 25 million households now own laptop computers, according to Forrester. And 5.3 million households have wireless Internet access. "That doesn't sound like a big number, but it is up from zero a couple of years ago. That is rapid growth," said Charles Golvin, a principal analyst at Forrester."
The good news is that we can connect when necessary and be very productive virtually. The bad news is that we often never get a chance to separate ourselves from all of our work demands.Posted By Diane Pfadenhauer In Policies & Procedures , Trends | Permalink
Black Monday: Will Anyone be Working?
The Monday after Thanksgiving has become known as "Black Monday" following it's cousin "Black Friday" immediately following Thanksgiving Day. Also, known as "Cyber Monday," it has become the biggest shopping day of the year - online. The Wall Street Journal had an interesting article (registration required) discussing the following trend:
"With the rapid expansion of the Internet, the Monday after Thanksgiving has grown to be the all-important kickoff of the online holiday shopping season. On that day, consumers head back to work -- and their computers -- ready to shop after the long holiday weekend... Retailers and analysts say it is fueled largely by consumers taking advantage of high-speed Internet connections at work to do their holiday shopping, sometimes after spending the long holiday weekend roaming brick-and-mortar stores, comparing prices and exchanging gift suggestions with relatives.
The article further notes that 86% of Americans who use the Internet at work have broadband connections there, and about 64% of home users now have broadband. This year, about 52 million people said they will use Internet access at work to browse or buy gifts online, according to Shop.org.
Previously I've posted (here) about the use of the internet at work and also contrasted that with the trend for employees to work eve-increasing hours (here). It's likely that employers will choose between the prospect of appearing as Scrooge during the holiday season if they choose to clamp down on employees surfing and shopping and quietly overlooking what may be an increase in the amount of time that employees spend on the web at work. However, to make matters even worse for productivity, for each purchase, there will likely be a conversation among co-workers discussing the deal, the color, the size and the free shipping.
Bottom line - employees will likely be shopping online at work more throughout the month of December. Hopefully employers will balance that against the hard work employees do throughout the rest of the year. However, if an employer thinks employees don't work hard enough to deserve a little slack, it seems to me they have bigger problems than holiday online shopping at work.Posted By Diane Pfadenhauer In Policies & Procedures , Trends 1 Comments | Permalink
Decreasing "Real" Wages
According to this article in the Christian Science Monitor, American workers, after inflation, earns 2.3% LESS than they did a year ago. Some of the reasons for wage stagnation, according to the article, can be attributed to:
- The downward pressure of global competition.
- The cost of benefits. Some employers have stopped offering health insurance, but those that do are spending more, and thus boosting overall compensation even though hourly wages aren't rising.
- Price-sensitive consumers. As energy costs rose, many companies didn't feel able to pass those costs along to customers. So they have to pay their oil bills by cutting costs elsewhere. Pay hikes get smaller.
- Government policies. Some researchers say a failure to crack down on illegal immigration - whether at the border or in the workplace - has depressed wages for the less skilled.
- Weak bargaining power. The decline of union membership in the private workforce has had a significant dampening effect on wages, some economists say.
As if it isn't hard enough to keep employees motivated, happy and committed. I noted here the impact that home heating costs will have on the average worker. Perhaps it's time to be thinking about other non-monetary ways to keep employees engaged.Posted By Diane Pfadenhauer In Compensation & Benefits , Trends | Permalink
Generation X Wants and Needs
When talking about diversity in the workplace, we often overlook the different generations in the workplace. There seem to be so many that follow the baby-boomers that I often can't keep track. This post on the T&D Blog discusses the needs and wants of Generation X as cited in a new book reviewed in the ASTD's T&D Magazine. Look at the following:
- 77% of Gen Xers say they'd leave their current jobs if they found 'increased intellectual stimulation' elsewhere.
- 61% of Xer women said they'd leave their job for one that was more flexible.
- 51% of Gen Xers said they'd quit if another employer offered them the chance to telecommute.
- The average Gen X worker in his 20s stays at each job for only to 1.1 year.
- 'Having a best friend at work' was one of 12 key predictors of both job satisfaction and high performance."
Now for those of you who are really confused about all of those "generations" - here's what Wikipedia tells us:
- Baby Boomers - Born after WWII and up to 1964
- Generation X - Born after Baby Boomers up until about 1981 (Wikipedia advises us that there is a dispute about the actual years - hmmmm).
Generation Y - Born in the early '80's through the early '90's
- Generation Z - Those born as late as the 2000's also referred to as Generation Fat because of dietary and health issues (I'm not kidding take a look!).
SOX in the Private Sector
Sarbanes-Oxley, although applicable to public sector firms, has begun to creep into the private sector. According to a survey reported here:
- 58 percent of the 1,400 CFOs at privately held firms who responded to the survey said their businesses were implementing new practices in response to corporate governance mandates for publicly held firms.
- 37 percent cited "pressure to meet corporate compliance deadlines" as the greatest impact increased corporate governance had on business.
Looks as though the trend toward greater scrutiny on corporate governance is continuing. Earlier this year I wrote an article for the Journal of Private Equity on the impact of this heightened scrutiny on board and senior management recruitment and retention. My conclusion, it's gotten a lot harder and now it's looking like that difficulty will transfer over to the private sector as well as these firms adopt some of these standards.Posted By Diane Pfadenhauer In Trends | Permalink
Cost of Going to the Office
The Future of Work Blog had an interesting post (go here) a while back on the actual cost to the economy of commuting. The post notes that as a nation we spend $388 million a day commuting. Given the choices we have today in terms of communication, it hardly seems worth it for many of us to go to the office every day. It's a good read - take a look.Posted By Diane Pfadenhauer In Trends | Permalink
Fuel Costs and Your Raise
With all the talk lately about surging fuel prices.... the next logical question whether the predicted 3.5% salary increase for next year will cover the increase in fuel prices. Let's take a look, according to this recent article:
"Heating a typical home with natural gas in colder parts of the country is now expected to cost $1,568 this winter, up 64 percent from $957 last year, according to estimates from the National Energy Assistance Directors' Association, which coordinates energy relief for lower-income families.
The news is not much better for homes using heating oil. This winter's heating bill could rise by nearly a third, to $1,666, from $1,263 last winter, the group said. Its forecasts are based on estimates made after Hurricane Katrina but before Rita."
The $50,000/year employee who gets a 3.5% raise can expect an extra $1,750 (or about $34/week) in his/her pocket before taxes. Less taxes (depending upon the location) he/she might end up with $20. The average employee is probably already spending an additional $20/week on gas for the car. So, it looks like the additional cost of heating homes this winter may come out of the holiday gift budget.Posted By Diane Pfadenhauer In Compensation & Benefits , Trends | Permalink
2006 Salary Increase Planning
- Salaried employees - 3.6%
- Executive employees - 3.8%
- Non-union hourly - 3.5%
Variable compensation will increase to approximately 11.4 % of payroll, up from 9.5% in 2004. The article further notes: "Cash-strapped companies, the Hewitt report notes, "are more often turning to [offering their best people] flexible work arrangements (52%), retention bonuses (41%), stock awards (30%), and part-time work options (30%)."
Moral of the story - now's the time to see about telecommuting. I read earlier today that gas prices will not return to their pre-hurricane levels for at least 6 months.Posted By Diane Pfadenhauer In Compensation & Benefits , Trends | Permalink
Workplace Violence - the HR Manager's Nightmare
This article about a terminated employee who allegedly shot three managers at work the other day before killing himself raises critical issues regarding workplace safety and preventing violence in the workplace. A while back I posted this which provides links to a wealth of resources on the web available to help organizations prevent violence from occurring in their workplaces. My heart goes out to all those affected.Posted By Diane Pfadenhauer In Miscellaneous , Resources , Trends | Permalink
Trends in Tuition Assistance Programs
Two recent surveys regarding corporate tuition assistance programs provide some good insight for those considering modifications their policies. According to this WSJ Career Journal article, the percentage of employers contributing to employee tuition expenses has fallen over the past few years, with the exception of large employers. The maximum annual amounts range from $400 to $15,000, with a median maximum of $5,000 according to Hewitt Associates.Posted By Diane Pfadenhauer In Trends | Permalink
Relief for Workers at the Pump
USA Today had an article reporting on recent efforts by employers to help employees with the surging price of gas. According to a survey by SHRM, here are some of the things employers are doing in light of that fact that gas is about a dollar more than it was a year ago and Hurricane Rita is barreling through the Golf of Mexico:
- Raising their mileage reimbursement rate to the new IRS rate of $.485/mile (interestingly, I read somewhere that the rate should be upwards of $.80/mile...)
- Offering public transportation discounts
- Organizing car pools
- Offering telecommuting
- Letting employees work from home
I'd say let's hope that Rita steers clear of the coast, that people are not harmed and the oil production facilities are not damaged. Unfortunately, it appears that is not likely to happen with the latest weather predictions. Hopefully lessons learned from Katrina can be quickly implemented in the face of yet another deadly storm.Posted By Diane Pfadenhauer In Miscellaneous , Policies & Procedures , Trends | Permalink
EEOC Charges Increase for the Very Young
According to this article, the EEOC filed 30 lawsuits on behalf of teenagers in 2004. This is 4 times what they filed on behalf of the same group in 2001. The EEOC files an average of 400 lawsuits a year.
"Most of the teen-related lawsuits are in industries with a large percentage of young workers -- retailers, restaurants, hotels and movie theaters. These are workplaces where turnover often is high and many managers, often young themselves, aren't trained to avoid or recognize harassment and discrimination, the EEOC said. Most of the claims are filed by young women accusing managers of lewd comments and inappropriate touching and grabbing."
The EEOC has launched this initiative - Youth at Work - "a national prevention and outreach program to promote equal employment opportunity for America's next generation of workers."Posted By Diane Pfadenhauer In Trends | Permalink
Fewer Flexible Work Schedules for Employees
Yesterday's USA Today reported a downward trend in employees who work flexible hours, even though, as the article cites, such arrangements can increase productivity. According to the US Department of labor:
"The number of full-time wage and salary workers age 16 and older on flexible schedules dropped from 29 million in May 2001 to 27.4 million in 2004."
Reasons for the decline include the fact that more and more companies are dropping flexible arrangements (the idea that it's a buyers market in employment and employers just don't have to), and the belief on the part of employees that to ask for flexibility will put you on the layoff list for the next staff reduction. The fact that some employers can be so short-sighted seems counterproductive to me. If it helps productivity, saves employees from spending $2.50/gal. for gas to sit in bumper-to-bumper traffic, and likely helps reduce workplace and life stress, please explain why companies would eliminate such arrangement? It's just a matter of time before the tides change and it will be a "seller's" market. In fact, in some professions it already is.Posted By Diane Pfadenhauer In Trends | Permalink
Costco: Defying Perception that Warehouse Stores Pay Poorly
A recent article in the New York Times (free registration required) discusses how Costco has become the Anti-Walmart. The article discussed how Costco has given Sam's Club a run for its money. What's really interesting about the article (and perhaps more important) is the discussion of how Costco treats its employees, much to the dismay of Wall Street. Specifically:
1. Costco benefits for employees are not just a little bit better than average, they are substantially better than their competitors.
2. The average Costco employee earns $17/hour, 42% more than employees at Sam's Club.
3. Turnover is virtually non-existent.
4. Jim Sinegal's (president of Costco) salary is 10% of what CEO's earn at comparable organizations.
5. 401(k) matching contributions range between 3% and 9% depending upon length of service.
The lesson here is that when an organization takes care of its people, it can be wildly successful. Although some on Wall street argue, according to the article, that it's better to be an employee of Costco than a shareholder or customer, it's performance over the years has been quite good. But, I think the question for Wall Street is how good is good enough, and is the balance of stakeholder interests appropriate? As many organizations whittle away salaries and benefits it's refreshing to see a demonstrated commitment to employees.Posted By Diane Pfadenhauer In Employee Relations , Staffing, Recruitment, Selection , Trends | Permalink
The BostonWorks HR Blog tells us (here) that employees spend an average of 2 hours a day slacking off. This two hours is comprised of, among other activities, "surfing the Web, socializing with co-workers and simply "spacing out." What's not mentioned is the real hours that employees actually work. The United States has far less vacation time than time off in other countries, and employees are routinely connected to their employers with electronic leashes (cell phones, laptops, PDA's etc.), always expected to be available. In our global economy it is not unlikely that people will spend what would otherwise be off-time connecting with overseas colleagues. In fact, I can remember regular conference calls with colleagues in Hong Kong routinely scheduled for 10:00 pm.
Since I often get emails and phone calls from clients on weekends and well after 5:00, it seems to me that some of this internet surfing is probably paying bills, and doing what ever other personal activities aren't being done after hours as the employee is still connected to the office. I'm also thinking that I had hoped that as an economy we were moving away from measuring performance by face time and hours worked and measuring the value of our employees by the results they produce. Oh well.Posted By Diane Pfadenhauer In Trends | Permalink
An article on the Mercer website discusses a recent survey they did which suggests that employee commitment is on the rise. In comparing a survey done in 2002 and another completed this year, they show that commitment to the organization increased from 58% to 64%, belief that the organization is well managed increased from 40% to 49%, and that employees would recommend their employer as a good place to work increased from 58% to 65%. Article also notes several factors or "key drivers" of employee commitment:
- Employees' confidence in their future with the organization
- Employees' confidence in achieving career objectives
- Employees' confidence in the future success of their organization
- Degree of teamwork and cooperation
- Employees' satisfaction with the type of work they do
- The chance to do challenging and interesting work
- The company's commitment to quality
- Opportunities for continuous learning to improve skills
Perhaps organizations are beginning to recover from the fallout and distrust of organizations which occurred after the Enron fallout (not to mention WorldCom, Tyco, etc., etc.). Thanks to Boston Works HR Blog for bringing this to our attention.Posted By Diane Pfadenhauer In Trends | Permalink
Executive Pay for Performance
A recent article in the San Francisco Business Times tells us that executive pay is getting closer and closer to reflecting actual job performance. The article identifies that there is a trend to reward upside performance, but alas, it is not as clear with regard to downside performance. In other words, some execs see the upside in their compensation when they do well, but not the down side when they do poorly. Here are some interesting trends identified in the article on executive pay with respect to stock options:
"Nationally, corporate boards are moving away from stock options as compensation, especially with the expensing of options kicking in next year for most companies. These companies are opting for restricted stock grants or comparable performance units, tying pay closer to performance."
"With options expensing imminent, the next year or two will determine how much progress corporate America will make in tying pay to performance in the corner office."
I think this whole notion of expensing stock options which is coming around the bend has a lot of people confused. I think the old says of doling out stock options without regard to measurable performance (and a corresponding downside for failure to perform) may be nearing an end. As organizations want to continue to reward their executives with ownership, restricted stock appears to be the new trend.Posted By Diane Pfadenhauer In Compensation & Benefits , Trends | Permalink
"NEW" Mandate? Oh, Please...
There have been some recent posts around the blogosphere about a recent HBR Working Knowledge article which tells us that HR has a new mandate - to be strategic. I'm going to try to keep myself awake (or alternatively stop my little German temper from flaring up) while writing this post..... New? What on earth does that mean? Have some of us just woken up? You've go to be kidding me! David Ulrich, whose books I have followed and read for several years now, has published this new book to tell us what we're supposed to be doing. These are the same concepts that progressive HR practitioners have known for years. If, as an HR practitioner you aren't connecting employee performance, stakeholder interests and corporate performance, stay back in the administrative office.
Here's what REAL HR professionals have been doing for years:
Meeting with customers: The article suggests that "...twenty years ago, it would have been unthinkable for almost anyone in HR to even consider spending time with external customers." Are you kidding me? I hope companies aren't still hiring those types. Many of us figured this out decades ago.
Value: The article suggests that "The HR value proposition means that HR practices, departments, and professionals produce positive outcomes for key stakeholders, employees, line managers, customers, and investors." I say let's make sure we can measure these practices and outcomes, not just talk about them.
Premise of Value: The article suggests that "Often, HR professionals have beliefs, goals, and actions that translate into things that they want to have happen in their organization‚Äîso they go straight for their desired results, without paying enough attention to the perspectives of others." Sorry, Dave, but most of those HR professionals would have been fired 20 years ago.
I'll stop now. You can read the article here. So nice to know there's another book out that's going to tell all of us what we should have known 20 years ago. We'll use fancy words and call it "new." Seems like the themes emanating from that conference last week that Regina talked about (here) are still the same old, same old....Posted By Diane Pfadenhauer In Trends 1 Comments | Permalink
Divorce Up Among Military
Here's an interesting article from USA Today which discusses the upward trend in divorce rates for deployed members of the military. For active duly officers, the increase is over 78%! Seems to me there is a significant issue of job stress and that more needs to be done to transition these soldiers from deployment to their return to their families. According to the article:
"...five years ago, the Army instituted one-day workshops to help soldiers and spouses talk about war experiences and ease the transition from combat to home. More recently, weekend marriage-education retreats have been introduced."
One day?! Wow. Perhaps our military can learn from the corporate world. Progressive companies do MUCH more to reorient employees returning from work overseas - work that is likely much less stressful than fighting a war.Posted By Diane Pfadenhauer In Trends | Permalink
Background Checks for Current Employees on the Rise
The Background Checks Blog directs us to a recent article in the South Florida Sun Sentinal which discusses a trend of increasing the number of background checks on current employees (we're not just talking applicants here). According to the article:
"The number of checks on all workers has tripled during the past eight years, experts said, mostly because of growing security concerns, the technological ease in obtaining the information and its declining costs."
Although it sounds a bit like big brother is watching us, our friends at the Background Checks Blog (what an interesting niche, huh?) remind us of the importance of obtaining proper authorization from employees in order to do periodic background checks during employment.Posted By Diane Pfadenhauer In Policies & Procedures , Trends | Permalink
Respect for HR
BNet's HR Newsletter points to a recent article on Business Week Online which discusses three reasons why HR gets no respect. When I first glanced at the article I thought it might be another belly-aching HR person talking about how the world doesn't appreciate them. Thankfully, the author isn't belly-aching. In fact, several others have beaten me to the punch in referencing this article in their blogs. See blogs written by Lori Dorn and Regina Miller for more thoughts from the HR trenches.
- Business leaders don't understand HR - I though this one would be about how the world doesn't understand what we do.... No, it's about the fact that CEO's don't know what they should expect, so they tolerate mediocrity. They focus on compliance rather than effectiveness - Then end up with the functional specialist rather than the visionary leader.
- Top Execs Undervalue the HR Leadership Role - Where does the HR leader report? Is he/she on the same level as the other functional areas like sales, finance, IT? The author states that you can't say people make your organization and then have only a lowly HR director, while everyone else is a VP who reports to the CEO.
- Reporting Structures Send a Signal - Does HR report to the CEO or somewhere lower on the totem pole?
I think this last quote says it all.... "Any CEO can snap her fingers and break that cycle, however. To do so only requires a relentless determination to find a creative, fearless, and business-savvy HR leader. Pay this person appropriately, demand that he produce results -- meaning, assemble a championship team both for now and the future -- and stand back." Amen.Posted By Diane Pfadenhauer In Trends | Permalink
Insert Foot in Mouth
What can be said about President Vincente Fox of Mexico's comment over the weekend? If you haven't heard it, here it is:
Posted By Diane Pfadenhauer In Trends | Permalink
"There is no doubt that Mexicans, filled with dignity, willingness and ability to work, are doing jobs that not even blacks want to do there in the United States."
America's Most Dangerous Job
Fishing? Yes, fishing. An article in this week's edition of US News and World Report tells us that an average of about one fisherman dies on the job every week. Seems there has been legislation proposed that would enact safety rules to PREVENT accidents (such as licensure for for boat captains and mandatory dockside safety checks), but these have never been passed. The Coast Guard, the article tells us, conducts voluntary inspections, but only 6% of boats participate. According to one Coast Guard professional "Until we make inspections mandatory, we're going to have 60 people drown and 140 boats sink every year." The naysayers of such legislation say that the industry is already over regulated.
Nice. We should expect that people die every day just so we can have minimal regulation?
The article also noted some fatality rates of the other occupations for comparison. According to 2003 data of deaths per $100,000 workers:
- Loggers - 131.6
- Fishers - 115
- Aircraft Pilots - 97.4
- Police Officers - 20.9
- Firefighters - 17.4
- Office Workers - 0.6
Trend Toward Increasing Hours on the Job
It's Sunday evening and I am doing what I usually do - checking email and getting myself prepared for the week. As I sit here, I notice emails coming in to my inbox with a fair amount of frequency. Others are doing the same thing - getting back to people, preparing their lists for the week and organizing their work activities. As I was doing one last check of my Bloglines before shutting down for the night (and off to my recliner to read a book that requires a hi-lighter), The Christian Science Monitor nicely reminded me that there is a trend in the United States to work more and more hours. The article, available here, is curiously dated May 2nd - tomorrow. Seems like the CSM is working on Sunday in order to get their front page articles up before Monday begins.
The article discusses the usual - that with email, voicemail and the like, everyone is expected to be available all the time. Also, three quarters of white collar workers work on weekends because of an increased workload. Why? Because of pressure for productivity. According to one source quoted in the article, one or two employees now routinely handle the work that five might have done previously.
The article further notes that this pressure to put in hours involves not only the corporate types but also independents and freelancers. Americans, they say, are defined by their work, think its cool to talk about how overwhelmed we are at work (as if not being busy is a sign of weakness), and routinely do not take all of our vacation time or don't take more than a day or two at a time.
Perhaps the most important lesson of the article is the notion that the stock performance of companies on the Fortune 100 list and the Working Mother List of the best companies to work for is about 15% higher than the average of the aggregate of companies on the NY Stock Exchange. Something to think about.
So as I ponder all of this, I think I will shut down my computer, get that book that requires a hi-lighter and sit on my recliner an kid myself that I am relaxing. For Lee, Joe and Fred (each of whom emailed me while I was working on this post), you guys need to take a break.Posted By Diane Pfadenhauer In Trends | Permalink
College Grad Salaries Expected to Rise
A recent article on CNN.com tells us that according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, college graduate salaries are expected to rise this year and that employers will likely hire more graduates. Here's what salaries are up:
- Aerospace and aeronautical engineering majors - up 9%
- Marketing majors - up 6%
- Economics and finance majors - up 5.1%
- Chemical, mechanical and civil engineers - up 4%
- Liberal Arts majors - up 4.2%
The article notes that some, however, are down:
- Computer engineering jobs - down 2%
- Information science jobs - down 0.8%
With the market down to its lowest point since the election, it will be interesting to see if this trend holds up. Let's hope it's not like some of the other downturns in the economy - offers extended and then pulled out from under the candidates like a rug.Posted By Diane Pfadenhauer In Compensation & Benefits , Trends | Permalink
Insufficient Retirement Savings
Interesting little article in USA Today last week regarding retirement savings - or lack of. The article cites an annual survey by the Employee Benefits Research Institute (a great organization, by the way) that demonstrates a continued disconnect between what people believe they need for retirement and what they actually have saved. For example, the survey noted the following for respondents - most of whom were over 45:
- 52% had less than $25,000 put away
- 13% had $25,000 to $49,999 put away
- 11% had $50,000 to $99,999 saved, and
- 21% had $100,000 or more put away
Despite what I view as pretty dismal numbers, 65% of respondents stated that they were "very confident" or "somewhat confident" about being able to fund their retirements. With what, I ask?
EBRI sponsors a website called the Ballpark Estimate that you can use to calculate the amount of money needed for retirement. I went there and played around with some of the tools. That 45 year old with $25,000 in the bank, needs to be putting aside a lot more money every year. If I was a benefits manager doing a presentation to employees on their 401(k), I'd be talking about these tools.Posted By Diane Pfadenhauer In Compensation & Benefits , Trends | Permalink
More on Employee Ethics
The Detroit News claims in this article that rank and file employees have joined the fray of workplace ethical infractions. Essentially, with all of the focus on senior management, there has been little coverage of the misconduct of rank and file employees. Some interesting statistics cited in the article:
- Employees calling in sick have hit a five-year high, and three-fifths of those who do so aren't sick at all
- A survey last year of 1,316 workers by Kronos Inc. reported that more than one-third of workers say they lied about the need for sick days.
- More employees are stretching the reasons for taking time off, even claiming that a common cold warrants a medical leave.
- Job applicants reporting false academic credentials have hit a three-year high, with 12 percent of resumes containing at least some phony information.
Rank-and-file employees are less likely than managers to report misconduct they observe: 44 percent say they resist doing so, compared with 28 percent of managers and younger managers with three years or less experience are nearly twice as likely as older or more experienced managers to say they feel pressured to violate ethical principles.
An some of the reasons....
- Stresses brought on by accelerating corporate change. There is evidence that misconduct increases in companies where mergers, acquisitions and restructurings are under way.
- In other cases, employee dishonesty is a sign policies are outdated.
- What if the truth will do so much career damage that a face-saving lie seems better?
I think that some of what may be going on here is the idea that we are expected to available on on call all of the time. If we expect our employees to work around the clock and drop their plans at a moments notice, how are they expected to attend to family and personal matters. Sometimes they have to lie to take care of things that they shouldn't feel badly about addressing. Obviously, I would never condone lying on resumes, claim a parent dies three times or fudging the numbers. But, when employees have to lie about time off or takes mental-health days because they've worked themselves into a state of exhaustion, something is wrong.Posted By Diane Pfadenhauer In Trends | Permalink
Trends in Employment of Older Workers
There have been a number of recent articles noting an increase in the employment of older workers. The New York Times ran this article (worth the registration) a week or so ago which provides some interesting facts and statistics. This isn't just about older workers looking for part time jobs to supplement their retirement income. Apparently, employers are starting to bend over backward a bit in an effort to recruit older employees. The article notes that AARP features employers on its website - those that are offering perks, health benefits and flexible schedules. Here are some other interesting statistics from the article:
- At Borders, 16% of its employees today are over 50 as compared to 6% six years ago.
- About one-third of men and one-fourth of women between the ages of 65-69 were working in 2004.
- The percentage of men in that age group still working rose to 33% from 27% in 1994 and the percentage of women in that age group rose to 23% from 18% .
- AARP predicts that one in three workers will be 50 or older within five years.
In light of the recent discussions concerning guidelines on phased retirement, the dwindling of retiree healthcare, the fewer defined benefit plans available to retirees, this is clearly a trend that will continue.Posted By Diane Pfadenhauer In Staffing, Recruitment, Selection , Trends | Permalink
Discrimination Based on Appearance
Contingent Workforce recently cited an article which appeared in the Indianapolis Star which noted that 40% of Americans in a recent poll indicated that employers should be allowed to discriminate based upon appearance. Appearance included such things as weight, clothing, piercing, body art and hairstyle. The survey also noted that 47% of those with supervisory responsibility agreed that discrimination based on appearance should be permitted.
The problem here is that if we let people exclude people from employment based upon their appearance, at what point have gone too far into the gray and it becomes unlawful discrimination? Do certain "groups" of people wear a certain style of clothing or dress? Do people of certain religious backgrounds wear certain displays of their faith? Just how fat (or not so fat) do you have to be to be considered just "overweight" and subject to lawful discrimination? What about people who just aren't good looking? Should we hire only tall thin blonds? I thought that good people practices involved hiring based upon qualifications and experience.Posted By Diane Pfadenhauer In Employment Law , Trends | Permalink
As a follow up to yesterday's post on ethics and technology, Richard Samson has made his new book, on off peopling available on the web for free until the end of this month. He claims that with the continuing trends in technology, off peopling will occur - that is, when more and more technological jobs will be replaced by technology. He further claims it will far exceed the concept of "off-shoring." Here is a link to his recent blog post about it.Posted By Diane Pfadenhauer In Trends | Permalink
Ethical Acumen as an Essential Job Skill
A recent article in the Christian Science Monitor discusses how the qualities of ethical judgment, compassion, intuition, responsibility, and creativity will become essential skills for the future workplace. They note the following:
- Wall Street is considering the idea of creating an ethical code of conduct
- CEO's are now being terminated for unethical conduct even when it doesn't affect the bottom line
I'll add the recent alleged school district scandals which have recently surfaced in NY - where there authorities have alleged serious misdeeds among the leaders of several school districts in NY. Increasing oversight and controls result. See also, the recent NY Times article citing an increase in terminations on Wall Street over ethics.
Futurist Richard Samson was cited as an authority who noted that the focus on ethics will increase as technology takes over more and more of the routine tasks of work. He suggests that this increasing reliance on technology will result in ethics being more "crucial." For instance, we can now check out of the grocery store without human interaction, we check in at airports through a kiosk, and when we purchase on the internet, we speak to no one. Recently, I have also found myself foregoing telephone customer support in favor of online chat or FAQ's.
What is even more interesting is the idea that technology makes us more interconnected and interdependent. One move in the wrong (unethical) direction could have substantial ripple effects. The article cites the August 2003 blackout in the northeast US and Canada as an example of a technological ripple (though not a result of unethical practices, but rather a decision by a few, with far-reaching implications). If unethical decisions are made, the possibility for tremendous damage exists.
While graduate business schools and law schools teach ethics, what responsibility do organizations have to ensure that their employees possess these basic qualities? I'd say they have an enormous responsibility - to identify proper and improper behavior and to make sure employees know the difference.Posted By Diane Pfadenhauer In Trends | Permalink
Role of Health Benefits in Employer Compensation Strategy
The Labor Prof Bog last week provided a link to a study published by Harvard University which discusses the role of health benefits in an employer's compensation strategy. WARNING: the article is extremely detailed and, shall we say, quite academic. It does, however, promote some very interesting thought-provoking discussion. Specifically, it makes one think about the harsh reality of benefits planning (which I will describe in a less-than-academic fashion).
- It makes most sense for the employer, from a financial perspective, to design a plan that encourages employees to select the most restrictive, yet least costly, design for the employer.
- With regard to adverse selection, the employer needs to design the plan to ensure that the employees who are most likely going to need the most generous plan (um... that would be the sick and unhealthy folks) either pay the most for it or end up in the plan that has restricted freedom and, therefore, the lowest cost for employers. Nice.
- When employers are designing their plans, the bucket of cash available needs to be looked at in the context of all other monies that the employer spends on employees. Way back in the old days when I first got into HR, we could expect 10% raises, on average, for employees and health care benefits were increasing at 5% per year. Today, we have 3% raises and health care is increasing at 25% per year. In other words, if you do the math, the increase for health insurance most likely exceeds the increase for raises (dollar for dollar). If we add escalating (try "skyrocketing") pension contributions over the past few years as a result of market performance and low interest rates, the situation for employers is down right ugly. In the public sector, this gets passed along as tax increases. In the private sector, there is really no place to pass it along to. As a result, there are continuous cut-backs and scaling back of overall compensation packages.
WorldCom Finance Exec's Journey
As a follow up to my post yesterday on the effects of new regulations on management and board retention and compensation, yesterday's Wall Street Journal (registration required) detailed the life of a former WorldCom financial executive who has learned the hard way the consequences of looking the other way when he "put aside his misgivings and agreed to go along with false accounting entries." Having pleaded guilty and now helping the government in its pursuit of others in the case of WorldCom, he still could face 10 years in prison. I think it's interesting to read these types of articles to look at the personal side of the consequences of a person's decision to engage in such actions. It's a side that most never consider when they make the wrong decision.Posted By Diane Pfadenhauer In Trends | Permalink
Say Goodbye to Your CFO (and Maybe Your Board) or Ante Up
USA Today reported that more and more CFO's are either resigning, retiring, or getting fired. Reasons attributed to the departures: long hours, Sarbanes-Oxley, and increased job stress. The article notes that this trend is relatively recent. Compare that article to an article from the WSJ which stated that salaries for finance professionals are increasing dramatically.
I recently wrote an article for the Journal of Private Equity (registration required) on the effect of regulations on board and senior management retention and performance. It's been a trend for some time now that recruiting board members has become more and more difficult in the face of increased potential for personal liability and other demands. I've surmised that this is the case at the senior management level as well and now more and more articles have appeared which support my initial assertions (whew!).Posted By Diane Pfadenhauer In Trends | Permalink
Staffing Company Employment Up in 2004
The American Staffing Association noted in their annual survey that during 2004 staffing companies hired an estimated 11.7 million temporary and contract employees, an increase of 1 million over 2003. This puts hiring levels for these firms as high as they were in the boom period of 2000. Although they claim this is a good indicator of the health of the economy, how come it doesn't feel as robust as it did in 2000?Posted By Diane Pfadenhauer In Trends | Permalink
US Job Satisfaction Continues Decline for a Decade
The Conference Board recently reported (and as previously noted on benefitsblog by Janell Grenier) that only about half of employees are satisfied with their jobs. Interestingly, the lower the salary and the lower the age, the lower the level of satisfaction. Reasons cited for the dissatisfaction include:
- Technological changes resulting in employees being in touch with the office constantly
- Rising productivity demands
- Changing employee expectations regarding work-life balance
I found the most startling statistic to be that only 14% of survey respondents said they were "very satisfied" with their jobs. That's pretty disappointing that very few of us are truly happy at work!Posted By Diane Pfadenhauer In Trends | Permalink
Spam Costs Companies Millions in Lost Productivity
According to a report by the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business, computer users spend an average of 3 minutes a day - or 22.9 million hours per week - deleting spam email. They claim this loss of productivity equates to a financial loss of $ 21.58 billion. They note that this figure does not include the wasted resources of transmitting and storing the unwanted email and purchasing and maintaining software to block spam. Perhaps the bean counters in our organizations can calculate the cost of savings of implementing more robust spam-blocking software in order to reduce the loss of productivity. Now if we could just keep our employees away from the water cooler, just think how much more productive they could be!Posted By Diane Pfadenhauer In Trends | Permalink
Working Without Health Benefits
Newsday recently reported and eye-opening statistic:
According to the US Census, 74% of the nation's 45 million uninsured people were working - generally full time, year round, in small businesses.
The article discusses the pitfalls of trying to get insurance on your own and offers some advice. The interesting observation, however, is the reality that fewer and fewer employees can expect health insurance from their employers. While those who work for large employers generally do not have to worry, it's those who work for small employers, and those who are college students and have jobs where no insurance is offered who may have to go it alone.Posted By Diane Pfadenhauer In Compensation & Benefits , Trends | Permalink
Lessons From Baseball
As I often commute on the Long Island Rail Road from New York City, I always notice fellow riders absorbed in the sports section of the newspaper. Seems that there are lessons to be learned from baseball which are applicable to the world of work. A recent article in the New York Times explores the performance of groups under pressure. It compares "decentralized" groups such as the New York Yankees with "strongly connected" ones such as the Boston Red Sox. Some interesting comments from the article...
"...social scientists who have studied group performance under pressure say that often it is decentralized groups that prove more resilient than strongly connected ones; they are better able to weather outside criticism and internal quarrels.
Evidence from personality profiles and from studies of military, corporate and space flight crews suggests that looser ties between group members can be a strength, if the team includes individuals who can generate collective emotion when needed.
"So much of psychology and sociology emphasizes the importance of communicating and creating strong bonds to improve group performance, but in a lot of situations that is just not how it works," said Dr. Calvin Morrill, a professor of sociology at the University of California, Irvine, who has studied group behavior in competitive corporate situations and in high schools.
When it comes to dissent and bickering, the article notes:
"When a common purpose is shared, loosely tied groups can function better than strongly bonded ones when it comes to containing dissent or bickering, research suggests. In studies of neighborhood organizations and corporate teams, social scientists have observed that members with weak ties can withdraw from disagreements without disrupting the group or their own work. On a tightly knit team, by contrast, a falling out between key members can divide a squad, forcing people to take sides, psychologists say. "The idea is that any sort of problem is likely to ripple more strongly and quickly through a close group than one with weak ties," said Dr. Mark Granovetter, a professor of sociology at Stanford."
In the corporate world, we spend a lot of time and effort on activites that try to get people bond and get along. Perhaps the individual nature of some of our management teams and groups is not such a bad thing after all. They may be inclined to be more resilient and able to handle stress better. Having said that, there's no way I'm putting bets on who will win the next World Series!Posted By Diane Pfadenhauer In Trends 1 Comments | Permalink
What's All That Suff on the Left Side of This Page?
When I started this blog and my own corporate website, I wanted to make them places where those interested in human resources and employment law could go for regularly updated information and also link to a wealth of knowledge and information available on the web. As practitioners, we often find ourselves under the gun to come up with a new policy, to find out about a new law or to get something done - fast! I also realized, that despite my intentions, I never told anyone this! So here I go..... All that stuff you see on the left side of this blog is links to FREE information about HR, employment law, policies and procedures, strategy, benefits, compensation, etc., etc., etc...... Some sites might require registration to get information, but for the most part, click away and you'll find all kinds of information at your disposal. For the record, I recently added the hrvillage toolkit and hr-guide which have gobs of free sample forms and policies. Also the Employment Law Information Network has links to even more sample policies on almost every subject imaginable. Happy clicking. Next time, I'll try to remember to mention new links that I add to the site.Posted By Diane Pfadenhauer In Trends 1 Comments | Permalink
Romance at Work
The other day, the Wall Street Journal (registration required) recently cited a survey by the American Management Association that noted an increase in office romance. Seems it's due to the fact that we're all spending more and more time at work. 67% of the respondents to the survey said they approved of dating at the office. And 30% said they had done so themselves. Needless to say, HR professional take somewhat of a more negative view of the subject - In a survey by the Society for Human Resource Management, 81% of human-resources professionals said they consider workplace romances dangerous because they could lead to conflict within the organization. And 74% said they believed it could present a legal liability.
To respond to romance, some employers require "love contracts" (See Michael's post on George's Employment Blawg) which generally state that the two parties are engaged in a consensual relationship. The Journal also recommends coming clean (i.e. don't try to hide it when everyone knows about it), taking it outside (i.e. avoiding public displays of affection), and last, but certainly, not least, avoid dating the boss or a subordinate.Posted By Diane Pfadenhauer In Trends | Permalink
Personal Bankruptcy: It's Health Care, Not Credit Cards
A recent article cites a study by Dr. David Himmelstein, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, and describes the following ominous results:
"Half of all U.S. bankruptcies are caused by soaring medical bills and most people sent into debt by illness are middle-class workers with health insurance... affecting 2,000,000 people per year."
Himmelstein noted that, "the average bankrupt person surveyed had spent $13,460 on co-payments, deductibles and uncovered services if they had private insurance. People with no insurance spent an average of $10,893 for such out-of-pocket expenses."
As companies whittle away their plans and pass more of the responsibility onto employees, we'll surely see more people who are close to the edge go over. So much for managed care and the expectation that it will reduce out of pocket expenses! And, by the way, the study noted that only 1% of bankruptcies were due to credit card debt.Posted By Diane Pfadenhauer In Trends | Permalink
An interesting article at workforce.com describes a controversy between Broadcom and Intel. Broadcom had been interviewing Intel's employees for jobs. While this is a seemingly innocent occurrence throughout human resources offices everywhere, Intel accused Broadcom of conducting the interviews in order to obtain Intel's trade secrets. Guess what? The court agreed with Intel and granted an injunction against Broadcom. The author, Christopher Kondon of the LA office of Kirkpatrick & Lockhart, notes the importance of educating interviewers about the importance of confidentiality and trade secrets. In my corporate days as a SVP of HR, I can remember an occasion where I was being aggressively recruited by a competing firm and was subjected to some unusually probing questions which, in light of this case, would be considered beyond the scope of an employment interview. Today, when I teach business law in an MBA program, we deal with this topic regularly. Kondon provides an useful definition in his article of the kinds of information that can be considered trade secrets:
"...trade secrets include a wide range of confidential business or proprietary information, such as chemical formulas, industrial processes, business plans and, under certain circumstances, customer lists. In order to maintain business information as a trade secret, one must take reasonable precautions to prevent the information from becoming generally known to his or her competitors. "Reasonable precautions" usually include requiring employees to execute confidentiality and nondisclosure agreements in favor of the employer."
I find that many employers really foul up in the reasonable precautions area. For example (Diane's quick list of how to lose trade secret protection):
- They fail to secure information that should be maintained in a locked area. For example, financial information, codes, etc. are left out in a department and others have free access as they walk through.
- They fail to mark things as confidential. Information that a competitor would love to get their hands on is transmitted throughout the company in the same manner as all other inter-office communication.
- They fail to obtain non-disclosure agreements when they conduct interviews of candidates who will potentially have access to sensitive information.
- They fail to obtain non-disclosure agreements when they have conversations with potential vendors or suppliers.
- They set up computer systems that contain specific and detailed information and do not restrict access. For example, a sales organization that enables all sales professionals throughout the company to have access to sales information for all other sales professionals, instead of restricting access to divisions or territories.
There are many others, but suffice to say this area is one that is continually evolving and companies should think about how they use and manage this information in order to adequately protect themselves.Continue Reading Posted By Diane Pfadenhauer In Employment Law , Policies & Procedures , Trends | Permalink
New York Restaurant Industry - Nothin' But "Bad Jobs"
A recent article in the New York Times (registration required) provides an interesting summary of a recent study of the restaurant industry in New York. This study, which also was discussed in a recent post on the blog Workers Comp Insider (which provides a link to the study itself and a great analysis), notes some very scary statistics for those in the HR or employment law fields:
- at least 36 percent of its workers are illegal immigrants
- 59 percent of workers surveyed reported overtime violations
- 73 percent said they had no health insurance
- most of the workers earned less than $20,000 a year
- 13 percent reported minimum wage violations
- 33 percent reported verbal abuse by their employers
- 19 percent said management illegally took a share of the tips
Now there's an industry the could truly learn some progressive employment practices.Posted By Diane Pfadenhauer In Trends | Permalink
Top Jobs for the Next 5 Years
Fast Company recently published a list of the top 25 jobs for the next five years. FC based index of the top jobs on four categories: job growth, salary potential, education level, and room for innovation. For all of the maligning of the legal profession, we (lawyers) came out at number 15. Others in the top ten included personal financial advisors, medical scientists, computer software engineers, chiropractors, environmental engineers, biochemists/physicists, sales managers, epidemiologists, computer systems analysts and athletes.Posted By Diane Pfadenhauer In Trends | Permalink
Even More on Instant Messaging at Work
Yet another article regarding the use of instant messaging, or IM, at work. The Detroit Free Press notes the recent proliferation of IM use in the workplace and the opportunities for increased productivity as a result. However, as previously noted, it's not without it's pitfalls. With over 25 million IM users at work, the article cites a survey by the ePolicy Institute which asserts that... "58 percent of workplace IM users engage in personal conversations. Sixteen percent use it to transmit gossip, rumors and jokes, and 6 percent send pornography. " Further,
" Employees chat, share confidential files, swap dirty jokes and catch computer viruses over AOL Instant Messenger, Yahoo, MSN Messenger and IRC. They do it without asking permission. They do it without their employer's knowledge. And therein lies the problem"
To counter the problems associated with IM at work, the article suggests:
A more feasible solution is to install "gateway management" programs, such as those from IMlogic and Akonix Systems Inc. These programs basically turn free IM software into corporate-appropriate software by putting IT departments in total control.
IM is not going to go away. My suggestion has always been to develop a comprehensive policy encompassing all forms of electronic communication - email, IM, the internet, voice mail, telephone, and what ever else may come along.Posted By Diane Pfadenhauer In Policies & Procedures , Trends | Permalink
The Power of Blogs
Yesterday's Wall Streeet Journal reminded me of the power of blogs. The editorial page had a small opinion on the subject of the recent lawsuit against McDonalds. Apparently, the lawsuit was tossed out of court, but the Second Circuit Court of Appeals has reinstated the case based upon a technicality. Ted Frank in the blog Overlawyered was quoted as saying that the effect of the ruling
"will be to raise the cost of defending meritless claims - which will encourage nuisance settlements, which in turn will encourage more meritless claims in the hopes of extorting such nuisance settlement."
Ted was eloquently noted as a "legal scholar" in the editorial. Here's the link to Ted's post.Posted By Diane Pfadenhauer In Trends | Permalink
SOX Whistleblower Litigation
A recent Nixon Peabody Employment Law Alert provides a nice summary of the Sarbanes-Oxley whistleblower cases. With all the talk and hype about the availability of whistleblower protection, this article gives the reader a summary of the cases so far and a background on the whistleblower protection under the law, in English.Posted By Diane Pfadenhauer In Employment Law , Trends | Permalink
A recent article published at Knowledge @ Wharton (registration required) discusses an interesting concept. The article discusses a study commissioned by Booz Allen concerning the concept of "enduring value." The study identifies some enduring institutions such as GE, Sony, the US Constitution, the Salvation Army, Dartmouth College and the Rockefeller Foundation, that "share the ability to innovate and adapt, leadership that balances stability and change, and a commitment to excellence." Ralph Shrader, Booz Allen's CEO stated:
"I would like to challenge the contemporary thinking that something or someone has to be new to be good. We make a grave mistake when we look at the future with our backs to the past. The past is what brought us to where we are.... Some of the reasons for the corporate leadership problems we have seen over the last several years [have to do with] overemphasis on things that change and not enough on things that endure..."
The article states what is now almost obvious: that companies such as Enron, et. al. were more focused on the short-term than on long-term viability and shareholder financial well being. As many of us go into companies in a turnaround situation, we often evaluate performance from the perspective that what was done in the past must be bad or wrong. Perhaps if we take a step back and look instead at what elements of the firm are consistently "right" over the long haul, we can balance those with the changes we are recommending. Sometimes people become so enamored with activity for the sake of action, rather than truly understanding what in the past brought value compared with what really needs to be changed.Continue Reading Posted By Diane Pfadenhauer In Corporate Turnaround , HR Strategy , Trends | Permalink
I'm reading my morning coffee (thank goodness it's always decaf) and reading my Wall Street Journal and notice the article entitled "When Bloggers Make News" (registration required). The article discusses the increasing impact of blogs as alternatives to traditional media. The article further discusses a group of folks who are getting together to discuss a blogger's code of ethics. Questions include bloggers disclosing the source of income, conflicting standards for journalists who blog, bloggers endorsing the links their sites point to, etc?
As I write this post, I am reminded of several key things that probably inspired most of us to blog to begin with - and I comment from the HR/Employment Law space. First, I actually enjoy reading unedited or filtered commentary on subjects most of us face every day.... a case in California, an NLRB decision, the latest thinking on HR metrics, etc. The posts we read are not micromanaged to death by bureaucracies. How many of us read publications written by writers who have NEVER dealt with some of the serious workplace issues we have been involved in on a regular basis? I'll leave nameless the newspaper I know with the workplace column written by someone who has never dealt with workplace issues - it's obvious and I can't understand why readers would think it's of value. Secondly, our blogs represent what we feel is important, interesting, unique or of interest at any given time on any given day. It's how life unfolds in the real world and the workplace, which is a major component of everyone's lives. Third, there are no limits to what we discuss. Most topics chosen are relevant and are sometimes the only place to find a good summary of an issue. Finally, how many times have we, as professionals, been quoted in the news or written an article, only to find that the published version represents little of what we said or the spirit and intent of our words.
My blog is listed on a variety of listings. I recently attempted to list my blog on another (which shall also remain nameless). I received an email back from the "editor" who told me that my blog did not meet their "editorial guidelines." After reviewing the supposed "guidelines," (which included, among others, nitpicky details on how I was supposed to post and organize my postings), I told the "editor" thanks, but no thanks... I wasn't going to change my blog just to make him happy. Our blogs are a source of information that we and others find of value, and should not be limited, curtailed, or micromanaged in any way.
On the subject of ethics, I wholeheartedly agree that where we cannot be objective, we should state so, we should let the reader know who we are so they understand our views, and, as the article suggests, publish only what we believe to be true and, of course, correct our mistakes publicly. But, unlike traditional media, we are not journalists (the article refers to us a "citizen-journalists"). While there have been reports, particularly in the political arena, of false information found on blogs, we also know this to be true in traditional media.
In this space, we are generally people who do this every day and have developed strong opinions and views based on being in the trenches. Each of our professional reputations as practitioners in this field are built and reinforced slowly every day and we know how easy it is for them to become tarnished. That's something that most traditional journalists can't touch and serves, to some extent, to self-police all of us.Posted By Diane Pfadenhauer In Trends 1 Comments | Permalink
In Observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
The birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. has been observed as a federal holiday on the third Monday in January since 1986. To recall and celebrate the positive contributions to our nation made by people of African descent, American historian Carter G. Woodson established Black History Week beginning on Feb. 12, 1926. In 1976, as part of the nation's bicentennial, the week was expanded into Black History Month. The U.S. Census has issued this interesting press release which contains a wealth of demographic data about Blacks and African-Americans in the United States.
Initiated by the Atlanta-based The King Center, the Martin Luther, Jr. King Papers Project is one of only a few large-scale research ventures focusing on an African American. In 1985 the King Center's founder and president Coretta Scott King invited Stanford University historian Clayborne Carson to become the Project's director and senior editor. As a result of Dr. Carson's selection, the Project became a cooperative venture of Stanford University, the King Center, and the King Estate.
The King Papers Project is a major research effort to assemble and disseminate historical information concerning Martin Luther King, Jr. and the social movements in which he participated. It's principal mission is to publish a definitive fourteen volume edition of King's most significant correspondence, sermons, speeches, published writings, and unpublished manuscripts.Posted By Diane Pfadenhauer In Trends | Permalink
Use of Human Capital Measures Predicted to Rise
The recent survey by the Conference Board of human resources executives showed that 84% believe that their use of people measures to meet strategic targets will increase. According to Stephen Gates, author of the report,
"When determining how best to demonstrate achievement, human resource managers must choose from the hundreds of metrics that are currently available to track every aspect of an HR department's endeavors to recruit, develop, and retain employees. What's imperative for the health of their businesses, however, is that these HR professionals tie these people measures more closely into their efforts to meet their companies' overall strategic targets."
Andrew Marritt of Andrew's Strategic Resources blog (listed on the blog list on the right), a blog dedicated to "HR, recruitment, staffing and employment trends," notes that the study further identifies, however, that only 31 percent of survey participants indicate that their HR executives have a strong understanding of strategic key performance indicators. Even fewer (25%) consider their HR leaders capable of linking people measures to such indicators. Further the study indicates that only 22 percent of these HR executives are able to identify strategic talent pools.
The survey shows how to make the case for people measures by overcoming these obstacles:
- HR needs adequate information technology to capture people data, yet only 19% of the survey participants believed their IT systems were up to the task.
- Internal politics over the perceived value of measurement and what to do with the results that may be critical of a manager's performance.
- Who presents the results to senior management? HR or the line? According to the survey, delivery by the line greatly enhances credibility of the reports.
My thought: Strategic human resources management is truly about the ability of an organization to effectively direct the efforts of employees in the direction of the achievement of organizational objectives. This cannot be done without adequate measurement. Whether it is the line manager or HR staff that spearheads the process, it should not matter. Human resources management is everyone's responsibility if organizations are to be most effective. Organizations that hold themselves and their management accountable will be most successful.Posted By Diane Pfadenhauer In Trends | Permalink
Economic Outlook for 2005
A recent article cites some predictions by UPenn professors on the economic outlook for 2005. Some of their predictions: 3/5 - 4.5% growth in GDP, inflation at the rate of 2.5%, a 6%-10% rise in the stock market, interest rates at 3.5% by the end of the year, and job growth of approximately 200,000/month. Now the bad news. These could have a negative effect on the economic outlook for the year: fewer housing starts, higher mortgage payments for those who refinanced with ARM's and thus less discretionary spending, the situation in Iraq or another terrorist attack, the deficit, the dollar, and oil prices. Let's cross our fingers.Posted By Diane Pfadenhauer In Trends | Permalink
HR as a Socialist Institution
A recent article at workforce.com (free registration required), suggests that many human resources functions are influenced by socialist, rather than capitalist thinking. The author suggests that many human resources professionals spend too much time focusing on fair treatment and too little time focusing on high performers. His examples include HR being the advocate for the weak as opposed to top performer, supporting equal pay v. differential pay, focusing on seniority rather than recent performance, equal treatment of managers v. resources based on results, HR seeking decisions based on consensus rather than innovative decision making, HR as the protector of the people rather than the champion of profit. I think what he may really be getting at here is that some HR functions are still focused on an old traditional/bureaucratic approach to people management which entails rules, policies, and rote systems where flexibility is avoided. For those HR professionals that incorporate the use of technology, ROI and metrics in the measurement of their functions, the author views them more as capitalists. What is not mentioned here is that in some organizations, HR becomes the police force because weak managers defer to HR (or expect HR) to help bail them out of making difficult decisions. The valuable HR person will make sure management is not avoiding the difficult decisions and will not allow him/herself to be placed in the police officer role.Posted By Diane Pfadenhauer In Trends | Permalink
The December Job Search Myth
As a long time Five O'Clock Clubber (www.fiveoclockclub.com), I've heard Kate Wendleton say a thousand times that job seekers should increase their activity during the month of December. Why? Turns out that companies are putting together their budgets for the next year and looking to fill jobs in January. An article on the SHRM website supports Kate's views. According to SHRM, December is a great time to hire employees. Is it because they want to make sure they start prior to January in order to get the maximum amount of vacation time next year (just kidding)? The author cites the same reasons articulate by the Five O'Clock Club for years. Employers should be wary. The article states that 75% of employees are looking for new jobs, according to a recent survey by SHRM. So what does this mean? Recruiters will be happy, employees who are looking and step up their activity will be well ahead of those job seekers taking time off to enjoy the holidays and do their shopping, and hiring employers will find the most motivated candidates available.Posted By Diane Pfadenhauer In Trends | Permalink
'Tis the Season... For Corporate Holiday Parties
It's that time of year for corporations to invite everyone to the local hotel ballroom for the annual holiday bash. Human resources professionals will be sipping ginger ale, averting their eyes as their co-workers imbibe just a little too much. According to an article in USA Today, we have much to be thankful for and the trend this year is for more parties - apparently the economy has picked up enough to encourage us all to celebrate more than we have in the past few years when a poor economy put a damper on holiday engagements. While some organizations may be thinking of the bubbly, others (like me) will be thinking of the value to be obtained with holiday parties. Now, I'm not scrooge, but all too often I have attended holiday parties where it is literally the only event all year for the employees to get together. What happens? The CEO or senior officer dodges the microphone and misses the perfect opportunity to engage employees, acknowledge their contributions for the year and to set the stage for next year. Employees appreciate it, and it is often a rare opportunity for employees to mingle with senior executives and feel a part of the organization. So let's hope your CEO's will be using this opportunity to communicate and engage employees rather than dodging the microphone and running out of the ballroom after a brief 15 minute visit.Posted By Diane Pfadenhauer In Policies & Procedures , Trends | Permalink
Hispanic Population to Become Significant Economic Force
The hispanic population in the United States has grown tremendously in the past 15 years from 6 million households in 1990 to approximately 10 million today. By 2010, the number of hispanic holdholds is expected to increase to13.5 million. The result will be, according to a recent study by the Conference Board, that these households will control $670 billion in personal income. According to Louis Martin, a McKinsey & Co. consultant quoted at Knowledge@Wharton, the hispanic market is made up of younger, larger families than traditional families in the United States. In addition, these families are more likely to live in multi-generational households.
From the perspective of employers, companies will have to continue to be be cognizant of the diverse differences of the hispanic population and will have to continue to provide opportunities for assimilation in organizations for these individuals. This may be compounded by the fact that, for some, English may be their second language. From the perspective of the business strategy, organizations will need to continue to develop strategies for marketing their products to this group, which will begin to wield substantial economic power. The challenge for the human resources professional will be to ensure that the positive efforts to market to this sector of the population coincide with a human resources strategy that mirrors this business strategy.Posted By Diane Pfadenhauer In Trends | Permalink