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December 30, 2011

HR Fact Friday: HR Trends in 2012

Are we really just one week away from the turning of the calendar to the year 2012? We work in and provide services to an industry [HR] where someone on the outside looking in may not think much ever changes. HR professionals know differently. Benefits administration, employment law, integrated talent management solutions, compensation programs, etc., etc. The list goes on. I would venture to say that every year at least one major HR program changes dramatically in most every company. And this goes equally for companies providing technology and consulting solutions to the HR marketplace like HRN.

So what predictions does Bersin & Associates see on the short horizon for 2012? According to a report published in November, 2011 and partially reprinted on, the following trends and changes are predicted to occur that will affect small businesses:

  • Deep integration of talent acquisitions—recruiting and staffing—into talent management.
  • Social tools and ads for finding talent will grow dramatically in 2012, forcing staffing agencies and job boards to re-engineer their offerings.



December 28, 2011

Here We Go Again…Another New Year Around the Corner!!

Filed under: General HR Buzz11:13 am

Here we go again.  Just around the corner is the beginning of another year – 2012.  I have completed my long list of personal resolutions for next year (narrowed down to a more manageable number of items to tackle.)  I’ve also been thinking about my work resolutions for next year and have come up with a few.  Some of these continue to carry over from one year, where others are new items.  So here they are:

  • Only have a meeting if it is necessary to have a meeting – How many times have you been in the meeting trap to have regularly scheduled meetings week after week without any particular agenda?  There are times when it is critical to have a meeting with all vested parties involved in the conversation, but there are times when an email will also serve the same purpose without interrupting the work flow of others in the office.
  • Learn to say “no” – I’m a pleaser, always have been a pleaser, and continue to be a pleaser.  So it is difficult for me to say no when asked to take on an additional task.  At the very least, I am vowing to say “no, not now” but I am also committing to say “no” in an effort to be honest to myself and my colleagues about what I can accomplish timely and professionally.
  • Delegate when it makes sense – I know I am not the only person that can complete tasks assigned to me.  By letting others take charge or participate in projects, I am helping the company by allowing other colleagues to gain new experiences.  It is critical that we provide more knowledge sharing opportunities proactively.  Additionally, oftentimes a new perspective may shed light on a more efficient process.

These are a few items I have on my list for next year.  What are yours?  I’d like to hear so please share!!


December 23, 2011

HR Fact Friday: How Much Does Compensation Really Cost Me?

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

If you have ever asked this question, you’re in luck.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) calculates and publishes this information. The latest information available was for September 2011.  Employer costs for state and local government workers averaged $26.57 per hour worked for wages and salaries and $14.19 for benefits in September 2011.  State and local government health benefit costs averaged $4.74 per hour worked in September 2011.  For more information, including a detailed breakdown of the costs, please go to


December 22, 2011

Tips in Case You Plan to Actually Take Your Vacation (and You Should!)

Filed under: Management Practices — Tags: , 6:00 am

By the time you read this, I’ll be on vacation on a tropical island.  Translation for the realists: I’ll be at home with my three daughters, out of school for the year.  As much as I love spending time with my favorite people, I have to admit the idea of a tropical vacation where I could sit and watch the waves sounds very appealing.  Still, as I am writing this blog, I can only think of the work I am leaving behind.  Do you dread the same things I do when you go on vacation?  It’s not that we don’t like to get away; it’s the thought of all the unanswered voicemails, email, and even plain old-fashioned mail that will be waiting for us when we get back that causes stress.

The best thing you (or I) can do, though, is to leave all this stress behind here at work.  So, confess, how often do you check your email while you are on vacation?  Are you getting calls from your boss (or someone else) about the latest crisis?

It is important for management to encourage employees to take vacation – and more importantly, to actually TAKE vacation.  In other words, take the time off work and don’t “work” while you are on vacation.  Some may argue that their job is just too demanding to take time off.  I argue that while there may be certain times of year employees should not be gone – around here, we refrain from vacation time if possible during the fall, when we have a major software update distribution – the company is most likely not going to shut down because you planned a trip to Mexico.

Take your time off, even if you don’t go anywhere “special.”  Reconnect with your spouse and children, or with yourself.  Here are some suggestions to make coming back to work easier:

  • Allow yourself some time to wrap up loose ends, such as projects you needed to finish.  For most of us, impromptu vacations don’t happen often: most of us schedule time to be off work well ahead.  Prepare yourself to be gone so that when you come back, you’re ready to take on new projects, not busy catching up from your vacation.
  • Remind your manager of your upcoming vacation and take a few minutes to check in with her to be sure there is not anything unexpected that needs to be completed before you leave.
  • Change your voicemail to let callers know you are away and when you will return.  This is especially helpful in any type of customer service position, whether you are an HR Manager (internal customers) or dealing with external customers.  This will cut down on their frustration and may even cut down on the number of return calls you need to make when you get back.
  • If you don’t have a designated “back-up” to perform your responsibilities, work out an arrangement with a co-worker.  You can return the favor when his vacation time comes around.
  • As hard as it may be for some of us, clean off your desk before you go.  If nothing else, it provides a clean area for all that mail that’s going to pile up.  Hopefully, though, it will provide you with at least a slightly more serene feeling when you return.

My goals for this vacation are perhaps less realistic than I will admit: (1) Keep my daughters from driving each other (and my hubby and me) crazy; and (2) finish my new Stephen King novel – do you realize it’s 850 pages?!

I wish all of you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


December 21, 2011

Reflections on Job Satisfaction

The end of the year is a time of reflection for me.  I look back on the year and typically do a mental review of the activities and occurrences in my personal life and my work life.  Oftentimes I wish I could have a few “do-overs”, but overall I am fortunate that I have more occurrences I would like to relive than do differently.  As I reflect on my career, some years I may have questioned if I was in the right field.  Other years I may have questioned if I was with the right company and satisfied with my job.  I have to admit, I tend to be fairly analytical so these mental discussions sometimes became rather intense and oftentimes I would end up with more questions than answers.

When it comes to job satisfaction, this is an area that is very important to most employees.  With the onset of a new year, and based on headline news the possibility of new jobs, many of your employees may be reflecting on their personal job satisfaction.  The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) recently released the 2011 Job Satisfaction and Engagement Research Report.  Good news!  The research showed the 83% of U.S. employees reported overall satisfaction with their current jobs.  Where the room for improvement comes is in the area of career development and advancement opportunities.  Only 40% of employees were satisfied in this area.

As employers, this should concern us.  Mark Schmit, SHRM’s vice president for research states “As we slowly come out of the recession, the war for talent will be back on.  When that happens, there is the potential for turnover given the dissatisfaction that employees seem to have with the real or perceived lack of advancement opportunities.”

When you reflect at the end of the year, it would be a good idea to think ahead.  What are you going to do as an employer to ensure your employees are satisfied with their jobs?  What opportunities exist in your company for career advancement and development?  We’d like to know what you are doing in your organization, so please share.

Source:  SHRM 2011 Job Satisfaction and Engagement Research Report

Other Sources:  WorldatWork



December 20, 2011

Are You Still Texting and Driving?!

Filed under: General HR Buzz,Management Practices10:07 am

Last fall, I wrote a blog about the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety’s Drive Safely Work Week during the first week of October.  Although I do not have a company-provided mobile device and do not travel for work, I do have a personal mobile device.  Does your company have a mobile device use policy in place?  More importantly: is it being enforced at all levels of the company?

Recently, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) met to discuss an accident report related to an August 2010 collision involving two school buses, a bobtail, and a passenger vehicle.  The end result of the accident included two fatalities and 35 injured.  The NTSB investigation concluded that weather, drugs or alcohol, mechanical condition of the vehicles, and highway design were not to blame in the accident.  The most likely cause: the driver of the passenger vehicle had been sending text messages at or near the time of the collision.

Among its other recommendations, the NTSB recommends the following:

(1)    Ban the nonemergency use of portable electronic devices (other than those designed to support the driving task) for all drivers;

(2)    Use the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration model of high visibility enforcement to support these bans; and

(3)    Implement targeted communication campaigns to inform motorists of the new law and enforcement, and to warn them of the dangers associated with the nonemergency use of portable electronic devices while driving. (H-11-XX)

Don’t wait for your state to implement a ban, create and enforce a mobile device use policy that is applied to all employees.  Here are some tips:

  • Ban texting and emailing while driving, unequivocally.
  • Consider a total ban on cell phone use while driving, per the NTSB recommendations.  Be sure your wording is clear that you are banning all cell phone usage while driving.  If you opt not to implement a ban, require employees to use hands-free technology and ban usage during dangerous situations such as adverse weather or high traffic.
  • Explain employee liability, including a statement that employees bear sole liability from tickets or accidents arising out of cell phone use while driving.

More information:

NTSB Press Release

Additional Source:


December 19, 2011

How Do I Know if Salary Survey Data is Reliable?

Filed under: General HR Buzz9:26 am

We all know that salary surveys are a key part of the process for making salary decisions.  But do we really know how to determine if salary survey data is reliable?  With the fairly recent access to salary data on the internet, there are even more reasons to question reliability of salary information which may be end up on your desk from coworkers.

You may have discovered that different salary surveys often provide conflicting or widely varying data. This is one of the main reasons a market based compensation system (one that is developed strictly from salary surveys) is difficult to maintain or administer. The conflict comes from three factors associated with collecting the data:

1)      the size of the sample;

2)      the closeness of match in the jobs being surveyed; and

3)      the selection of the organizations responding to the survey.

These factors are going to be discussed further in our December whitepaper, which will be published soon.  If you aren’t signed up for our whitepapers, please go to .  You’ll receive monthly whitepapers referencing topics of importance to you and your organization.  And best of all, they are FREE!


December 16, 2011

HR Fact Friday: FLSA Updates

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

There are some interesting things happening in the world of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which requires overtime pay and a minimum wage for nonexempt workers and regulates when minors can work and what they can do. First, the Act got some recent news attention when GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich made some comments on whether the law unwisely limits work opportunities for minors. Second, the United States Senate is considering a bill (S. 1747) that would revise/update the requirements of the computer professional exemption. Finally, the United States Department of Labor (DOL), which enforces the law, is expected to soon issue new regulations regarding employer recordkeeping.

There is speculation that the anticipated regulations will require employers to classify their independent contractors as exempt or nonexempt. DOL has estimated that some 30% of workers are misclassified as independent contractors. The issue is creating a lot of litigation right now, even in some unexpected places. For example, a group of exotic dancers who have worked in various strip clubs in New England recently filed a lawsuit alleging they should be classified as employees instead of independent contractors. Imagine trying to figure out which white collar FLSA exemption might apply to them!


December 15, 2011

Communication: Best Way to Prevent Fraud (and it’s Free!)

Filed under: Communication,Compliance10:45 am

Years ago when I worked as a young teller, I can remember how strict bank policy was with regard to safeguarding customers and the bank itself.  The bank took care to secure its assets and protect against theft – internally as well.  We practiced “dual control,” for transfers among general ledger accounts, for example.  Even with those preventive measures, there were still stories around the water cooler of employees who had embezzled money from the bank.

Occupational fraud – embezzling, theft, or misuse of resources – is a concern year-round.  The added pressure of holiday stress could present the missing catalyst that propels an employee to commit fraud when they otherwise might not.

Of course, you have taken precautions, such as exercising “dual control” and locking things up around the office, but Teresa Bengston writes that you may be missing something in your measures: accounting for the fact that your employees are human.

She suggests some best practices to reduce fraud, especially during the holiday season:

  • Communicate with your employees – Make it a point to go over policies and procedures that are in place to prevent fraud.  If they see anything of concern, they should notify management.  Use every channel available to communicate with employees to be sure they receive the message.
  • Teach employees to identify concerns among their coworkers and help them understand the true cost of fraud and how it relates to their job.
  • Use your Employee Assistance Program or another source to offer help to employees who are struggling – the holidays are stressful and can be more so with added financial pressure.

As the economy shows sluggish signs of a gradual recovery, no organization can afford the extra drain of fraud, especially when low to no-cost ways of helping prevent it are as simple as communication.

Read more: Avoiding Occupational Fraud during, after the holidays


December 14, 2011

Weekly Wednesday Acronym – Another One with Potential Class Action Exposure!

I’m sure you are aware of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), which regulates the scope and flow of information between “users” and “furnishers” of consumer information.  Not only does the FCRA regulate the exchange of consumer credit information between the credit bureaus and creditors in connection with mortgage lending, but it also regulates the exchange of consumer information between employers and credit reporting agencies that provide background reports.

These regulations are triggered when an employer orders a background check report, criminal, or motor vehicle records check.   For many years, it was relatively uncommon to see lawsuits or FTC enforcement actions against employers for alleged violations of the FCRA. Now, times have changed. In the past few years, there has been an unprecedented spike in class action and single-plaintiff lawsuits against employers for alleged violations of the FCRA. As a result, compliance with the various provisions of the FCRA is essential for all employers that use background reports even in part to make hiring and employment decisions.

Earlier this year, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC or “the Commission”) staff published a report entitled, 40 Years of Experience with the Fair Credit Reporting Act: An FTC Staff Report with Summary of Interpretations.  This report highlights critical portions which “provide important guidance on issues of statutory interpretation”.

As such, this is another area that we need to become familiar with and watch our P’s and Q’s.  I’m going to add this to my stack of reading, at least for a cursory review, so I will be familiar with what the findings are suggesting in terms of compliance.  If you would like to review the report, you may find it by clicking here.

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