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November 26, 2008

HR Fact Friday: Bad Bosses Raise Heart Attack Risk for Men

Not exactly the type of information to give one the warm fuzzies right before Thanksgiving but still it brings one to be appreciative and give thanks for having a good boss. 

Employees who say their managers are passive, inconsiderate and uncommunicative were more likely to suffer from heart attacks, according to a Swedish study that looked at 3,122 working men’s health records. Those who thought well of their bosses were less likely to get heart disease, and the higher their opinion, the lower the risk, researchers found.

The study, published today by the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine, is the first to establish a clear link between management style and employee heart health, and to show the effects over time. Earlier research shows poor management causes employee burnout, depression and high blood pressure.

The study found that if you have a good boss, you have at least a 20 percent lower risk and if you stay with your boss for four years, you have at least a 39 percent lower risk.

Researchers used a standardized stress test and examined hospital records. On average, participants at the study’s start were 42 years old, highly educated and slightly overweight. Three out of four exercised “now and then” or regularly. The men filled out a section of the so-called stress profile on “leadership climate,” scoring their bosses on such statements as “My boss is good at pushing through and carrying out changes.” An area where most respondents agreed was an important trait in defining a good boss and reducing stress was showing concern and taking action to improve working conditions.

Women weren’t included in the study because too few had heart problems.

Over the 10 years that participants were tracked, 74 had heart attacks or angina, all of which required hospitalization and some of which were fatal, the study found.

Source: Frances Schwartzkopff, 11/25/2008, bloomberg.com, fschwartzkop@bloomberg.net

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November 25, 2008

When Is a Yawn Just a Yawn?

Filed under: Age Discrimination2:58 pm

A Verizon employee alleged that he was denied a promotion because of age discrimination. As evidence, he noted that during an interview the hiring manager yawned demonstrating that the decision had already been made to give the position to a younger person.

The company contended that the employee had been repeatedly denied promotions because others were better suited and he didn’t express himself with confidence.

The larger issue just might be: how did this get to court and who could take the “yawn evidence” seriously? Additionally, could it just be the hiring manager was just plain bored?
[Arroyo-Audifred. Verizon Wireless Inc., 1st Circuit Court of Appeals]

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November 21, 2008

HR Fact Friday: HRN Secure in Era of Consolidation

Filed under: HRN News — Tags: , 2:25 pm

According to an article posted on Workforce.com dated 11/20/2008 the predictions are for continued consolidation and a lean year ahead for the Talent Management Software industry.

The economic downturn could speed consolidation in HR software, industry experts say. HR technology consultant Naomi Bloom expects consolidation not just among talent management players, but also in the broader realm of HR software and services.

It’s interesting that I read this article on the same day that myself and others of the HRN executive team sat down to solidify our corporate key performance metrics for 2009. Of course the current and predicted future harsh economic outlook was a factor and tempered our enthusiasm but despite the business climate, and due to our solid fiscal management, HRN is well positioned for continued growth in 2009. The fact of the matter is that HRN is celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2009 and proceeding full speed ahead on a complete version update of its flagship Performance Pro online employee performance management solution.

(more…)

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November 19, 2008

Post-Election. What’s Next: Unions and Minimum Wage

Filed under: Unions/NLRB — Tags: , , , 11:23 am

Continuation of post introducing various HR issues being addressed in Washington DC and providing additional information on each topic.

Washington is much more union-friendly now that it was before the 2008 elections. Watch for Congress to pass laws allowing employees to unionize by signing cards (rather than by a secret ballot vote). Democrats will now also gain control of the National Labor Relations Board, which governs the area of business-union relations. Congress also seems more likely to raise the minimum wage again, perhaps to as high as $10/hour. Congress also may again explore “living wage” legislation, which could result in even higher minimum wage standards.

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November 17, 2008

If You Can’t Sleep…The New FMLA Regulations Are Available

Filed under: FMLA — Tags: , , , , 3:20 pm

After two years the Department of Labor has just released its final regulatory updates to the Family Leave Act. These new regulations we be effective on January 16, 2009.

While attorneys and other “interested” observers are pouring over the 201 page document published in the Federal Registry, it doesn’t appear, at first glance, to have any significant surprises or differences  from the proposed rules.

New guidance and “clarification” includes those involving the two new forms of FMLA leave…military caregiver and active duty leave, modifications regarding employer and employee notice requirements, and changes regarding medical certifications.

New guidance has also been added to implement the Supreme Court’s decision in Ragsdale v. Wolverine Worldwide (i.e., regarding penalties where employers fail to give proper notice), light duty, perfect attendance, and waiver of rights in settling FMLA claims. More details on these changes can be found at the Department of Labor website  www.dol.gov.

They will require changes in your FMLA policy.  As important as these new regulations are they may be overshadowed by what could happen in the next Congress.  With Democrats controlling the White House and Congress, look for more proposals to make substantive FMLA changes in the future.
This will probably include lowering the coverage threshold from 50 to 25 employees and allowing workers to take leave for elder care, school-parental leave and domestic violence situations.  You will probably also see the new Administration support efforts to make FMLA leave paid, rather than unpaid.  Finally, efforts to require most businesses to provide employees with a certain amount of paid sick leave will also gain momentum.

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November 14, 2008

HR Fact Friday: On Vacation

Filed under: HRN News3:31 pm

Paul is on vacation this week. HR Fact Friday will return next Friday, 11/21.

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Post-Election. What’s Next: Immigration

Filed under: Employment Law — Tags: 3:24 pm

Continuation of post last week introducing various HR issues being addressed in Washington DC and providing more information on each topic.

Immigration reform has been on the Congressional back burner since bipartisan reform efforts died in the Summer of 2007. Now, Congress seems much more likely to impose a mandated, national verification system on employers, a temporary worker program with a path to citizenship for undocumented workers already here and to seek to allow the entry of a greater number of highly-skilled foreign workers. A more “punitive” model of immigration reform seems much less likely to pass Congress.

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November 12, 2008

Post-Election. What’s Next? Sexual Orientation and Pay Discrimination

Filed under: Title VII3:23 pm

Continuation of post last week introducing various HR issues being addressed in Washington DC and providing more information on each topic.

Congress likely will pass and the new President will support a national prohibition on employment discrimination based on sexual orientation. Many states already prohibit such job bias, but Congress seems poised to add sexual orientation to the national list of protected classes, along with race, color, age (40 or over), sex, pregnancy, gender, religion, disability, national origin, ethnic background, genetic status, military service and citizenship. The new Administration also seems to support Congressional efforts to strengthen the federal laws prohibiting pay disparities based on gender.

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November 10, 2008

Post-Election. What’s Next: FMLA Expansion

Filed under: FMLA3:19 pm

Continuation of post last week introducing various HR issues being addressed in Washington DC and providing more information on each topic.

Congress and President-elect Barack Obama both support some sort of expansion of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). This will probably include lowering the coverage threshold from 50 to 25 employees and allowing workers to take leave for elder care, school-parental leave and domestic violence situations. You will probably also see the new Administration support efforts to make FMLA leave paid, rather than unpaid. Finally, efforts to require most businesses to provide employees with a certain amount of paid sick leave will also gain momentum.

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November 7, 2008

HR Fact Friday: What and How Employers Monitor

Filed under: Communication — Tags: , , , , 3:18 pm

In a 2007 survey of 304 employers:

65% use software to block connections to innappropriate web sites, up from 27% in 2001.

96% block access to adult sites, 61% to game sites, 50% to social networking sites, 40% to entertainment sites, 27% to shopping and auction sites, and 21% to sports sites.

18% use URL blocks to stop employees from visiting external blogs (hopefully not our HR News & Views blog).

45% track content, keystrokes and time spent at the keyboard.

43% store and review computer files.

12% monitor the blogosphere to see what is being written about the company; 10% monitor social networking sites.

43% monitor e-mail, 73% of them use technology tools to automatically monitor e-mail, and 40% assign an individual to manually review e-mail.

Source: 2007 Electronic Monitoring & Surveillance Survey, co-sponsored by the American Management Association and The ePolicy Institute.

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