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February 27, 2009

HR Fact Friday: Employer to Employee Communication Improves During Tough Times

Filed under: Communication — Tags: , , 8:45 am

Unfortunately it took an economic recession to open up the lines of communication for many employers to keep their workforces better informed regarding topics of employee concern. . . namely job security, benefits programs, and company performance.  According to data released by Watson Wyatt in the February issue of SHRM Magazine and collected in 12/08 the topics of workforce communications over the past 60 days are:

Job security: 38%

Company performance and solvency: 80%

Bonuses or other incentive pay: 34%

Customer impact: 49%

Benefit programs: 46%

Base pay: 17%

Based on employee surveys this data correlates to the concerns expressed by employees (by percentage). So one could conclude that employers do care more about what employees think during challenging times and believe it a good practice to keep them informed regarding areas of concern that could affect their jobs and financial security. The cynic in me understands that there is a C.Y.A. (cover your a_ s ) factor driving the motivation of the employers in the event there needs to be some cutbacks or adverse staffing actions. Nonetheless as a marketer, more communication is always a good thing . . . as long as it is consistent, truthful, and accurate.

If you are interested in knowing what your workforce is thinking and learning their primary areas of concern, conduct an employee opinion survey. HRN can help. We have experienced HR consultants on staff who can prepare and administer employee surveys. For more information all us at 801-747-1170 or email HRN at


February 25, 2009

2009 College Grad Salaries to Remain Flat

Filed under: Salaries & Pay3:40 pm

The National Association of Colleges and Employers Job Outlook 2009 Survey indicates that salaries for college graduates in 2009 are to remain steady compared to 2008.  Anticipated hiring for college grads is also expected to hold pace with last year, suggesting that the college job market has lost some of the momentum it gained over recent years.

Currently, the average salary offer to new graduates (covering all disciplines) is $49,353, practically identical to the reported figure from 2008.  The current average starting salary for a liberal arts graduate is $36,445 (a decrease of less than 1% compared to 2008) whereas the average starting salary for a chemical engineering graduate is $65,466 (up 2.7% from last year).

According to the survey, the Bachelor’s degrees in highest demand for 2009 are:

  • Accounting
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Electrical Engineering
  • Computer Science
  • Business Administration/Management
  • Economics/Finance
  • Information Sciences & Systems
  • Computer Engineering
  • Management Information Systems
  • Marketing/Marketing Management



President Obama Revises Labor Executive Orders

Filed under: Employment Law — Tags: , , , , , , 10:39 am

A recent national SHRM article describes how President Obama has revised some federal labor orders. Here are excerpts from the article:  Two of the orders signed by Obama directly contravene directives signed by [former President George] Bush.

One of Obama’s new directives revokes Executive Order 13201, which required federal contractors to post a notice of nonunion employee rights concerning payment of union dues—also known as the Beck Poster. According to Obama’s order, federal contractors will no longer use the Beck Poster and will be required to post another notice that the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) will develop.



February 20, 2009

HR Fact Friday: Employers Using Online Technology to Screen Applicants

Filed under: Hiring & Jobs — Tags: , , , 9:18 am

We all know unemployment is high and the job market is tight. One bit of advice I can give to job seekers is to take a look at your Facebook, MySpace, or Flickr online profiles. What you see may explain why that job offer you were so sure of landing never materialized.

More and more employers are turning to technology to evaluate prospective hires. From paid service background checks, to simple Google queries of an applicant’s name, you can pretty much count on having your online persona ‘checked out’ prior to receiving a job offer.

For example: According to SHRM data, in 2007 20% of employers said they scrapped a potential job candidate because of information they found on the Internet about the candidate. An additional 12% of employers said it is “very likely” they will begin using the Internet to screen job applicants. These numbers have most likely increased considerably since 2007.

At the very least job seekers need to scrub their social media and photo posting pages to remove any potentially incriminating content or links. What was cool in college isn’t so cool to a prospective employer in a tight job market. Blogging can even be a deal-breaker if an applicant’s blogging community, or postings are associated with questionable shared interest groups. Scrubbing may be enough to do the trick but the nature of the Internet and social media is all about data sharing. You never know where those bachelor or bachelorette party photos have ended up or could appear on a basic Internet search. So cover your butt. A few yucks from your BFF’s over some weekend roadtrip photos isn’t worth missing out on a plum employment opportunity.


February 19, 2009

Wage Increases Likely to Slow Further

Filed under: Salaries & Pay9:35 am

Arlington, Va. (Feb. 18, 2009) – The rate of wage increases in the private sector likely will slow further in the coming months, according to the preliminary first quarter Wage Trend Indicator™ (WTI) released today by BNA, a leading publisher of specialized news and information.

The WTI fell to 99.59 (second quarter 1976 = 100), down from the fourth quarter 2008 reading of 100.14. The index has declined steadily over the past year.

“The WTI now has fallen below 100 for the first time since 2005,” said economist Kathryn Kobe, who worked on the index’s development for BNA, said. “Right now, the outlook for the job market is very dismal all the way around,” Kobe said. Lower expectations both for employment and for inflation reduce the pressure on employers to raise wages, she said.
Kobe expects the annual rate of increase in private sector wages later this year to drop below 2.0 percent, which would be the lowest on record since the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics began tracking such figures in 1980. In the fourth quarter of 2008, the most recent data available, the pace of year-over-year wage growth slowed to 2.6 percent from 3.3 percent in the same period of 2007, according to BLS’s employment cost index (ECI).



COBRA Subsidy: Requires Immediate Action!!

Filed under: COBRA — Tags: , , , , 6:00 am

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, signed on February 17th, (the massive federal“stimulus” legislation) includes an important provision that affects most employers and requires immediate attention.  The new law will provide for a 65% monthly COBRA premium subsidy for most employees who were involuntarily terminated between September 1, 2008 and December 31, 2009. While the intent of the law is to assist employees who were terminated in reductions in force, it appears that nearly all involuntarily terminated employees and their dependents (qualified “assistance eligible individuals”) may qualify for the subsidy.  The subsidy may extend up to 9 months and applies to medical, vision and dental benefits.  It applies to nearly all employers with group health plans, regardless of whether they are subject to COBRA’s continuation rules. That includes private and government employers subject to COBRA and some smaller employers that may be subject to state “mini-COBRA” laws.  “Assistance eligible individuals”  are qualified for subsidy payments effective at the first period of coverage, beginning on or after the bill was signed into law (February 17th).   Practically, for most employers, that date is March 1st . 



February 18, 2009

Retaliation Claims Strike Again

Filed under: Employment Law — Tags: , , , 1:27 pm

We’re most familiar with discrimination cases and they do get most of the headlines. Retaliation issues and claims remain more obscure.  That’s a big mistake.  Retaliation claims are growing and are typically attached to discrimination allegations. They frequently arise when an employee or applicant claims that an organization took “adverse action” against him because he filed a discrimination complaint, acted as a witness, assisted in a discrimination investigation, or opposed unlawful practices.

On January 26, 2009 the plot thickened. The U.S. Supreme Court, in Crawford v. Metropolitan Government of Nashville, clarified, complicated and expanded the scope of retaliation issues.  The Court held that an employee, who answers questions and conveys information about discriminatory conduct during an internal investigation, is engaging in “protected activity” under Title VII.  Surprisingly, to me at least, some lower courts had found that such involvement would not constitute “active” opposition under Title VII.



February 16, 2009

Becoming an Employer of Choice

Filed under: General HR Buzz7:51 am

Ask a colleague what it means to be an employer of choice and you’re likely to get a variety of responses, including “I’m not sure, but I know one when I see it.”


In an employment-at-will environment it’s true that all employees freely choose to work where they do, but an employer of choice is more than that – it’s the ability for an organization to consistently attract, maximize, and retain talented individuals at all levels of the company.


At your next managers meeting, challenge your team to determine what will solidify your organization as the employer of choice in your community.


Some ideas to spark conversation are:

o        Respected company in the community

o        Culture of empowered employees

o        Good communication

o        Good leadership

o        Managers and supervisors care about employees’ welfare

o        Growth and opportunities – Advancement, cross-training, etc.

o        Meaningful work – Opportunity to make a difference

o        Compensation

o        Benefits


After summarizing the list of organizational qualities, have a fluid discussion to determine which are present in the organization today, which are not present, and what obstacles are preventing you from achieving the desired qualities.


February 13, 2009

HR Fact Friday: House and Senate Agree on 60% COBRA Premium Subsidy

Filed under: COBRA8:12 am

Reposted from


For anyone who has been laid off over the course of their career and considered continuing their employer provided healthcare coverage by utilizing COBRA, but quickly put the thought out of their heads because the cost was prohibitive, please read on . . .


House and Senate negotiators reached a final agreement Wednesday, February 11, on the massive stimulus bill, which is expected to receive final approval from the House and Senate by Friday.


The conferees’ agreement is similar to COBRA provisions approved by the Senate this week.  Under that measure, the subsidy would have been 50% of the premium and it would have been available for up to 12 months.


The earlier House version called for a 65% premium subsidy up to 12 months. It also would have allowed employees with 10 years of service and those 55 and older to retain COBRA until eligible for Medicare, a potentially decades-long entitlement that business groups successfully fought to have removed.


According to a draft summary of the final compromise bill, the COBRA premium subsidy would not be available to individuals with an annual income exceeding $125,000 or to couples with annual incomes exceeding $250,000.


Like the earlier bills, the compromise measure would require employers to locate employees laid off since September 1, 2008, who declined COBRA to tell them they have a new right to opt for the coverage with the government picking up 60 percent of the premium.


Individuals would have 60 days after receiving the notification to sign up for the coverage. The subsidy would be prospective, applying to future premium payments.


Source: Jerry Geisel of Business Insurance, a sister publication of Workforce Management. 


February 11, 2009

HRN Kicks off 20th Anniversary by Announcing New Consulting Division and Performance Pro III Release Date



SALT LAKE CITY (February 11, 2009) — HRN Management Group today acknowledged its 20th anniversary by announcing the establishment of an HR consulting division and setting a September, 2009 release date for the much anticipated Performance Pro version III.

Additionally, due to judicious fiscal management, product/customer support excellence, and disciplined sales and marketing programs, in 2008 HRN matched its record setting 2007 sales revenue mark despite a challenging worldwide economic business climate.

Mr. Jerry Nelson, HRN Founder, President & CEO stated, “As we embark upon our 21st year, I can think of no other time in our history where we have looked forward to achieving so many significant accomplishments. It will be an exciting year for HRN and our clients.”


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