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April 30, 2009

Think You’ve Been on the Job for a Long Time?

Filed under: General HR Buzz9:53 am

You may think that you’ve been employed for a very long time and some days it may feel like forever.  But consider the work life of America’s oldest worker. Mildred Heath of Nebraska is 100 years old and has recently been selected by Experience Works as America’s oldest worker for 2008. She started working in the newspaper business at 15 and has been part of that business for the last 85 years. She continues to work 30 hours per week as a society news reporter, rides to work on her scooter and has no plans to retire. There’s no word on what she thinks of the recent economic downturn and its effect on 401k plans.


Good Time to Update Your Contagious Illness and Business Continuity Policies

Filed under: General HR Buzz6:39 am

As of April 28, 2009, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed 64 cases of swine flu in five states (New York, California, Texas, Kansas and Ohio). The CDC, on April 27, also issued a travel warning recommending that people avoid nonessential travel to Mexico.

These reports serve as a good reminder for employers to ensure that critical policies and plans are in place and up to date.

The outbreak has some unusual characteristics which are raising concern among the Centers for Disease Control and the Department of Homeland Security. The World Health Organization raised its pandemic alert for swine flu to phase 4, two steps short of declaring a full-blown pandemic. The swine flu has been confirmed in Mexico, United States, Canada, and Spain.

While the current outbreak is not expected to cause critical infrastructure disruptions in the United States, if it should intensify, it could cause a possible disruption in services due to high absenteeism.

Employers should revisit their contagious illness/pandemic policy to ensure that it covers important topics such as workplace hygiene, travel to high risk areas, and absence from work.

Likewise, this is also a good time to review your organization’s business continuity plan.  Key points to review include: staff contact information; methods of communicating to staff and members; cross-training and education; and alternative operations sites.

Keep up-to-date on the current swine flu situation at


April 29, 2009

A New OFCCP Record for Recovery of $$$ From Affirmative Action Contractors.

Filed under: Affirmative Action1:52 pm

In 2008 the Office of Federal Contract and Compliance recovered a record $67 million dollars from Affirmative Action contractors who had allegedly discriminated against employees and applicants based upon minority or gender status.

This is a 133% increase over what was recovered in 2001 and was up from $51 million in 2007. Nearly 25,000 individuals shared in the back pay and other damages collected.


April 27, 2009

30 Good Interview Questions and A Few Other Tips to Help Managers Make “Rightful Hires”

Filed under: Hiring & Jobs1:52 pm

Interviewing is frequently viewed as a “necessary evil.” Most managers don’t like the process or the time and energy it takes. It’s a difficult undertaking that most of us freely admit we’re not very skilled at.

Asking good questions takes some thoughtful planning. “Shooting from the hip” is unlikely to lead to good hiring decisions. A few keys to good questioning include: Keeping control of the interview, allowing the candidate to do 75% or more of the talking, not providing too much information or clues about what you’re looking for as you ask your questions, chronologically examining the candidate’s work history, and asking a variety of types of questions.

Providing managers with lists of possible interview questions not only makes their jobs easier but makes the interview process much more effective. A few good questions are provided on the next pages. You’ll likely want to customize them to meet the needs of your particular organization.



April 24, 2009

HR Fact Friday: Wage and Hour Division Is Hiring

Filed under: Hiring & Jobs — Tags: , , , , , , , , 7:58 am

It’s not all bad employment news this week. Nor is it bad news for workers who have a grievance against their employer and plan to file a wage related complaint. The Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division is hiring . . . in fact they will be adding 250 investigators, a staff increase of more than a third, announced U.S. Secretary of Labor, Hilda L. Solis.


Solis made the announcement after the release of a Governmental Accountability Office (GAO) report that found the department’s system for receiving and responding to wage and hour complaints is ineffective and discourages wage-theft complaints.


Of the 250 new investigators, 100 will focus on contractor compliance under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the economic stimulus package.



April 22, 2009

Equal Pay Lawsuits just got easier

Filed under: Legal Issues — Tags: , , 8:14 am

We knew that HR law would change with a Democratic Congress and administration. Well, the changes have begun.

President Obama has signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act into law.  The law overrules the 2007 Supreme Court decision of Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, Inc., making it easier for employees to bring discrimination cases by allowing them more time to do so.



April 20, 2009

Stressed out over Performance Reviews?

Filed under: Performance Management1:04 pm

Would you rather go to the dentist than spend days filling out performance appraisal forms or meet with your boss to have your performance review? Are you an HR professional responsible for administering the employee performance management program in your company and the mere thought of the upcoming evaluation cycle has your stomach twisted in knots? The entire performance review process can be stressful, threatening, and unproductive. So what can you do to minimize your anxiety, make the process useful to you, and make a positive impression on your boss?



April 17, 2009

HR Fact Friday: Despite Recession, Workplace Wellness Programs Continue to Grow

Filed under: Benefits — Tags: , , 7:58 am

Employers are continuing to add workplace wellness programs despite the ongoing recession, according to a survey by Watson Wyatt Worldwide and the National Business Group on Health.


Nearly 58% of companies surveyed offer lifestyle improvement programs, up from 43% in 2007, and 56% offer health coaches, compared with 42% two years ago, according to the survey of 489 large U.S. employers conducted in January.


However, employee participation remains low.


Forty percent of companies surveyed said less than 5% of their workers participate in a weight-management program offered. Financial incentives do help drive participation in smoking-cessation and weight-management programs, the employers reported.


Supporting the trend data in the small business sector, HRN began a wellness program in 2008 by offering to pay a percentage of employee gym memberships. Approximately 20% of HRN employees are taking advantage of the benefit.




April 15, 2009

Keys to Effective Termination

Filed under: Discipline & Termination2:00 pm

Employers who handle terminations without a plan or appropriate procedures in place are assuming considerable risk. The goal should be to establish termination procedures that are consistent, well documented and keep subjective actions to a minimum. Good basic Human Resource practices are the key, including:

  • Avoid summary discharge (on the spot terminations). A reasoned and careful investigation should take place before the termination, even if the employee has committed a serious offense or seems to be caught “red-handed.”
  • Prepare and review thoroughly. Remember, fair treatment wins cases.
  • Did the employee understand the rules and standards? Did he have notice or a warning (as appropriate)? Was there an opportunity to improve?

April 13, 2009

Using 21st Century Technology To Complete Performance Appraisals

Filed under: Performance Management1:51 pm

Technology has dramatically changed the way we do business, permitting us to communicate quickly, perform tasks that would have been impossible 20 years ago, and do things faster than we’ve ever done them before.  Human Resource departments, like other areas of business have taken advantage of these ongoing technological advances.

Not so long ago a pencil and paper were the primary performance appraisal tools. While generally reliable, (as long as you could find your paper and pencil), this method had its drawbacks.  A decade ago various HR software applications began to change the way performance appraisals were done. The

paper shuffle was eliminated, rows of filing cabinets became expendable, increased automation meant that appraisals might be better customized to organizational needs, and HR managers could retain at least some of their sanity as appraisal administration improved.


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