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July 31, 2009

Does Your Company Need a Smartphone Policy?

Filed under: General HR Buzz7:42 am

Are your employees twittering during meetings? Texting during conference calls? Checking Facebook on their iPhones during training?

As more employees carry and use iPhones and BlackBerrys, some employers are fretting about an increase in impolite smartphone usage. A few days ago, The New York Times had a fine article by Alex Williams called “Mind Your BlackBerry or Mind Your Manners.” In it, Alex cites questionable smartphone behavior in different workplace settings. Some companies have taken to policies banning BlackBerrys during work meetings. But more companies are facing up to the reality of the omnipresent smartphone: “Despite resistance, the etiquette debate seems to be tilting in the favor of smartphone use, many executives said.”

What do you think?

Copyright Gruntled Employees. All Rights Reserved.


HR Fact Friday: Company Picnic . . . Reality or Myth

Filed under: General HR Buzz — Tags: , , , , 7:23 am

Here we are smack dab in the middle of summer. It’s a good time of year. Days are long so there is time in the evenings for outdoor activities, folks are taking or planning vacations, and your company picnic is today so you can look forward to not having to work this afternoon, making a fool of yourself in the sack relay race, sinking your boss with a well aimed throw in the dunk tank, and filling up on free food and drinks. Ah, good times. Or are they?

Here at HRN, the annual summer company picnic is a relatively new event. In the past we have historically put all our eggs in the Holiday dinner event. But a few years ago we branched out and now hold a summer family oriented employee appreciation event as well. They are pretty low key as far as corporate events go. We reserve a pavillion at a local park, have some food, drinks, and ice cream brought in, and hold a variety of fun, family oriented competitive contests. Oh and then there’s the grand finale . . . the prize raffle.

The event is a lot of fun and employees look forward to participating along with their family each year. But this is a rough year economically for many businesses which means all non-essential expenses must be controlled and considered. So, is the summer company picnic taking this year off as cash strapped businesses look for ways to tighten their belt?

According to an online SHRM poll (take the poll by going to: that is currently open and accepting votes:

  • 34% of respondents say YES, their company is holding a summer picnic/company event this year.
  • 14% say YES but event is being scaled back
  • 33% say NO, although we have had them in the past, and;
  • 20% say NO, and we have never had a summer picnic or company event

So the data submitted to date supports the assumption that companies are cancelling or scaling back on summer employee events.  Not surprising I suppose. In tough times employees would prefer a job and paycheck over a cold hot dog, a flat soda, or a twisted ankle rounding 3rd base. But if your company is hosting a summer event, attend, appreciate the gesture, get to know your coworkers and their family, and above all RELAX, don’t talk about work and ENJOY yourself.


July 29, 2009

Around the States – 07/2009

Filed under: General HR Buzz9:12 am

A new Wisconsin law will recognize domestic partnerships and provide limited legal protections for registered same sex couples. Partners may begin registering on August 3, 2009.

A new Oregon law, effective January 1, 2010, prohibits employers from requiring employment attendance at meetings that involve the employer’s political or religious opinions or from taking adverse action against those who choose not to attend the meetings.  The law is known as the “Employer Gag Act” or the “Worker Freedom Act,” depending upon your perspective.

Delaware has banned discrimination in employment based on sexual orientation.

New clarifying amendments to Maryland’s Flexible Leave Act, (which allows certain employees to use paid leave, if such leave is provided, for the illness of an immediate family member) are in effect.

Colorado’s Parental Involvement in K-12 Education Act takes effect August 14.  It requires certain employers to provide unpaid leave for parents so they can attend school conferences or activities.

A Nevada law, effective October 1st requires that domestic partners (straight or gay) be given many of the same rights that the state offers to married couples.


July 27, 2009

Layoffs Happen Even Where “Everybody Knows Your Name”

Filed under: General HR Buzz9:14 am

The man who inspired the character Sam Malone on the TV sitcom Cheers has been laid off from his job at the Boston landmark bar.

Cheers, formerly known as the Bull and Finch, is where Doyle served 5,000 customers a day for the past 35 years.

Tom Kershaw, the bar’s owner, says the economy is to blame.

Kershaw acknowledged that it was a difficult decision. “Business is way off,” he said, adding that he would continue to send Doyle a weekly paycheck until the end of the year. “It was very tough. Personally, for me, it was a disaster. Eddie and I have been friends for 40 years.”

Source: The Boston Globe


July 24, 2009

HR Fact Friday: Pay Raises Smallest in Decades

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

Recession-starved employee salaries have scarcely grown this year, and early predictions for 2010 aren’t looking much better. Two surveys released earlier this week found employers have increased salaries this year by the smallest percentage in decades.

Human resource consultants Watson Wyatt Worldwide, Inc. and Hay Group estimate that median pay raises for 2009 ranged between 2% and 3%. The U.S. Labor Department says pay for the average worker increased 2.2% in the year ended March 31, down from 3.2% in the year-earlier 12 month period.

For next year, the firms are projecting slightly bigger raises of 3%. That’s the smallest forecast increase in the 29 years Hay Group has done its survey.

The reasons are clear: In a recession that has eliminated 6.5 million jobs since the end of 2007, millions of workers have suffered pay cuts or have been forced to take time off withouth pay. Economists expect the U.S. economy to resume growing later this year, but the labor market typically recovers more slowly.

Analysts say the findings demonstrate the depth and volatility of the recession. A year ago, the consulting firms predicted average workers would see pay increases of 3.5% to 4% this year. But the new surveys show that raises fell well short of that.

Source: Salt Lake Tribune, July 20, 2009, Michael Sanserino


July 22, 2009

Average Earnings : High School vs. College Degree

Filed under: Salaries & Pay2:01 pm

The most recent data (2007) recently released by the U.S. Commerce Department’s Census Bureau shows, once again, that our parents were right when they said “stay in school…”   at least when it comes to earning more money.  The Bureau reports that 87% of Americans 25 and over are high school graduates, with 29% holding a bachelor’s degree or higher.    That bachelor’s degree can make a significant difference in pay.


July 20, 2009

Bureau of Labor Statistics Releases Data on Retirement Plans

Filed under: Benefits,General HR Buzz,Insurance11:12 am


The U.S. Government Bureau of Labor Statistics has released the third issue of Program Perspectives.  This is a new publication designed to showcase the latest statics from BLS programs.

The report, which focuses on retirement programs, is an easy-to-read summary of access, participation and take-up rates by employees in different retirement programs, employer cost for retirement programs and other useful information.

Read the full, 4-page report here.  And remember, HRN Management Group offers comprehensive Employee Benefits Analyses utilizing a number of national resources to assist clients in maintaining a competitive benefits program.




Executive Comp Draft Released by Representative Frank

Filed under: Compensation,General HR Buzz8:15 am


An executive compensation “discussion draft” is now circulating among lawmakers and its designer, Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) said his committee plans to mark up legislation this week.

Frank, who is chairman of House Financial Services Committee, noted the draft is based on a House-passed 2007 “Say-on-Pay” bill combined with new U.S. Treasury Department proposals.

The discussion draft, titled the Corporate Fairness Act of 2009, is comprised of four major components. Addressing financial institutions are sections labeled “Incentive-Based Compensation Disclosure Requirements” and “Compensation Standards for Financial Institutions.”

The first proposes to require financial institutions to disclose compensation structures that include any incentive-based elements. The second would require federal regulators to proscribe “inappropriate or imprudently risky” compensation practices as part of solvency regulation.

No limits on executive compensation are contained in the draft.


July 18, 2009

HRN shows off new look to company website

Filed under: HRN News — Tags: , , 8:00 pm

The HRN Management Group website has a brand new look

The HRN Management Group website has a brand new look

has a new look and feel, not to mention additional content representing our new HR Services, Consulting and Executive Search Division. Check us out! Let us know what you think of the new design and layout. Give us your feedback by going to:


July 17, 2009

Are You Driving Your Boss Crazy?

Filed under: General HR Buzz12:22 pm

In today’s workplace, it goes without saying that it’s a good idea to remain on the boss’s good side. Your relationship with this person can be a major factor in not only your on-the-job happiness but also your career success. And your boss can be a powerful ally; having a manager who thinks highly of you may improve your job security since you’ll have someone who is willing to defend your value to the firm should layoffs occur. So, the last thing you want to do is exhibit behaviors that undermine this relationship.
Unfortunately, your manager may not always tell you if your behavior is driving him or her nuts. Here are eight actions to avoid:


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