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September 9, 2009

EEOC Hearing Highlights “Devastating Impact” of Age Discrimination

Filed under: Employment Law2:03 pm

In a July 15th hearing, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) examined recent developments under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA).   It was noted that economic conditions and significant layoffs around the country have definitely driven an increase in the number of age discrimination charges.  Illegal age-related, conscious or unconscious stereotypes have likely been a big contributor to the problem.  Therefore older workers may be disproportionately selected for layoffs and those who do lose their jobs may have more trouble finding new jobs than their younger counterparts.

Frequent stereotypes about older workers include that they are:   inflexible, hard to train, costly, unable to accept change, lacking in energy, and are less competent.  Further, many may believe that job performance decreases as a worker ages and it’s not worth it to spend money training older employees as they won’t be around long.  All of these stereotypes can readily impact layoff decisions.

Several experts who testified at the hearing encouraged the EEOC to develop various new enforcement and policy solutions to combat age discrimination.  They included:  regulations surrounding the “reasonable factor other than age defense,” guidance regarding the relevance and weight of ageist comments, and tools to clarify recent Supreme Court cases.  (e.g., Kentucky RetirementSystems v. EEOC).


HR Pros Can and Must Be Influential

Filed under: General HR Buzz12:28 pm

As the pace of change intensifies—in markets, in employment relationships, in finance, and across the globe—it’s more important than ever for HR to gain a seat at the table where strategies are set and decisions made. A recent white paper from the president of OnPoint Consulting discusses the tactics that are the most likely to help all leaders become more influential.

OnPoint’s Rick Lepsinger says that as pressure increases on organizations to do more with less, it’s crucial for HR influencers to build consensus among other officers and gain the support of many people with competing priorities or conflicting goals. Lepsinger’s research has identified 11 ‘proactive influence tactics’ used by the most effective leaders, but 4 of them align best with gaining commitment. So you can imagine using them when you need to get a budget increase, persuade managers to outsource some of the less strategic HR functions, or get approval for an upgraded talent management process. The four tactics are rational persuasion, inspirational appeals, consultation, and collaboration. (more…)


September 8, 2009

Women Gain as Men Lose Jobs

Filed under: Hiring & Jobs — Tags: , , , , , , 7:51 am

Source: USA TODAY, 9/4/2009, Dennis Cauchon

Women are on the verge of outnumbering men in the workforce for the first time, a historic reversal caused by long-term changes in women’s roles and massive job losses for men during this recession.

Women held 49.83% of the nation’s 132 million jobs in June and they’re gaining the vast majority of jobs in the few sectors of the economy that are growing, according to the most recent numbers available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

That’s a record high for a measure that’s been growing steadily for decades and accelerating during the recession. At the current pace, women will become a majority of workers in October or November. The data for July will be released Friday.

The change reflects the growing importance of women as wage earners, but it doesn’t show full equality. On average, women work fewer hours than men, hold more part-time jobs and earn 77% of what men make. Men also still dominate higher-paying executive ranks.

Women have been a growing share of the once heavily male labor force for nearly a century, recording big bumps during epochal events such as the Depression and World War II.

This time, the boost came from a severe recession that has been brutal on male-dominated professions such as construction and manufacturing.

Through June, men have lost 74% of the 6.4 million jobs erased since the recession began in December 2007. Men have lost more than 3 million jobs in construction and manufacturing alone.

The only parts of the economy still growing — health care, education and government — have traditionally hired mostly women. That dominance has increased in part because federal stimulus funding directed money to education, health care and state and local governments.

The Postal Service is cutting tens of thousands of unionized, blue-collar jobs dominated by men while new hires are expanding in teaching and other fields dominated by college-educated women.

The gender transformation is especially remarkable in local government’s 14.6 million-person workforce. Cities, schools, water authorities and other local jurisdictions have cut 86,000 men from payrolls during the recession — while adding 167,000 women, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.


September 4, 2009

HR Fact Friday: Survey Finds 54% Happy With Retirement Plan

Filed under: General HR Buzz6:00 am

54% of workers are satisfied with their current employer-sponsored retirement program, according to a new survey by Watson Wyatt Worldwide.

Also, 61% of the 2,200 full-time employees participating in the survey said their company’s retirement program was their primary retirement savings vehicle, and 29% would not save for their retirement without the company-sponsored plan.

Among workers enrolled in defined-benefit plans, 62% were satisfied with their plans, compared with 51%of those covered by defined-contribution plans.

Of respondents in defined-benefit plans, 61% under the age of 40 are concerned that their plan benefits will be reduced in the future, and 42 percent believe their future benefits will be eliminated as a result of the current financial crisis.

Half of defined-contribution plan participants said they prefer the freedom of investment decisions that the plans provide, despite the investment risks associated with higher returns, and 53% prefer the mobility a 401(k) plan offers when changing jobs.

The survey was conducted in February. A summary is available at



September 2, 2009

Small Pay Raises Continue

Filed under: Salaries & Pay — Tags: , , 12:46 pm

Many organizations have provided no or small pay raises in 2009.  It looks like that will continue in 2010.

According to a survey conducted by the consulting firms of Watson Wyatt Worldwide and the Hay Group, the median pay raises for 2009 will be from 2-3%. Raises had been projected at 3-4%. (Half of the raises are above the median and half below.)  Additionally, the Department of Labor has reported that an average worker’s pay increased just 2.2% in the year ending on March 31st compared with 3.2% in the previous year.

The survey found that organizations are projecting increases of 3% for 2010, which would be the smallest increase in 3 decades.  Observers have also noted a trend creating an even greater pay raise gap between the very highest performing employees and others within the organization.  The goal is to reward those individuals, who have a significant impact on organizational success, with considerably higher raises, (4-5%), while providing modest raises (2-3%) to the bulk of employees, and 0-1% for those performing below expected levels.

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