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May 31, 2012

Destination HR: Making #SHRM12 a Social Experience

Filed under: General HR Buzz,HRN News — Tags: 1:38 pm

Yesterday, my conference badge arrived in the mail.  It was nondescript in its plain blue envelope.  For me, it was a lot like opening the mailbox to find the big Sears catalog had arrived.  The arrival of that catalog meant Christmas was around the corner.  Yes, I really am that excited about going to Atlanta for the 2012 SHRM Annual Conference.  Tomorrow, we’ll flip our calendar to June, and my kids will help me count down the days until my big trip.  In the meantime, I’ll share my thoughts and bring you some insight from a first-time attendee’s view.

As I mentioned in my first post about the SHRM conference, listening to Drive Thru HR each day has quickly become a habit.  Each week leading up to the conference, they’re doing a special preview show on Wednesdays immediately after the regular show.  If you missed them, you can listen by going to the link above.   This week, special guests included SHRM’s Director of Social Engagement Curtis Midkiff (@shrmsocmedguy on Twitter).

While it seemed I blinked and the thirty minute show was over, I did pick up a plethora of ways to make the conference experience more personal.

  • #SHRM12 Hashtag – If you’re on Twitter, search for the #SHRM12 hashtag to connect with SHRM staff, exhibitors, and other attendees.  You’ll see what everyone is talking about, and don’t be afraid to join in on the conversation!  Don’t wait for the conference: do it now.
  • Buzz – You can find it here.  Advice is plentiful and runs the gamut from session suggestions, to how many pairs of shoes you should bring (comfortable is key), to what type of weather you can expect (H O T).  There are going to be about 13,000 people attending.  It can’t be overstated that this is a huge conference.  The Buzz site is a way to help you get connected and not feel “lost in a sea of people.”  Check it out now, and keep it on your radar during the conference for videos, Twitter updates, and pictures.  Even if you can’t attend, you can see what’s happening.
  • The Hive – This is the social media hub at the conference.  SHRM has recruited 75 bloggers who will be engaging throughout the conference.  These “Blog Stars” rival the U.S. Olympic Basketball team that took the gold 20 years ago, as Curtis says.
  • SHRM 2012 Conference App – The app is the companion for every attendee.  Filter sessions by type and synchronize sessions across multiple devices.  My favorite feature?  Let the app locate you within the conference center and point you to sessions close by.  The app also includes links to Facebook, Twitter, and the Buzz from within the app.
  • Conference Daily – In a world of digital communication, I still have a special place in my heart for the printed word.  Attendees look forward to it every year – so I’ve been told.  In fact, every time I tell someone I’m attending for the first time (and it’s pretty much the first thing I tell anyone), if they’ve attended the Conference Daily is one of the first things they list as must-have.
  • Social events – I won’t be in sessions the whole time.  I’m going to check out the Meet to Connect and Meet to Move programs.  Meet to Connect is on the Buzz, and is a way for attendees to connect with each other.  Meet to Move will feature yoga and Zumba.  I also found this blog from Jessica Miller-Merrell that promises the “unofficial” party guide to SHRM12.  (She’s also one of the “Blog Stars”)

Destination HR Part 1 and Part 2

Come back next week for more on the SHRM Conference…  It’s only three weeks away!  HRN is ready to go to Atlanta – we’ll be at Booth 1345.  Find us on Twitter: @HRNPerformance or connect to me @JustSayLiv.


May 30, 2012

It’s the Season…for Summer Internships

Filed under: General HR Buzz3:05 pm

You may have had experienced one of these scenarios:

  • A college student contacts you and asks to volunteer as a student intern in your marketing department during his summer break.  He could help with some writing and administrative tasks and his price is definitely right.
  • A vocational school program places mechanics in training with businesses to get some “real world training.”   He would like to start as an intern to gain experience with your company.

These both sound like great opportunities to benefit both the employer and the intern, but there are many items to consider for a successful internship program.  With the economy in recovery, employers are recruiting again with internships being one of the recruiting tools coming out of hibernation.  In most cases, employers are looking to turn internships into more than simply summer jobs and also use the programs to build lasting employment relationships.

Some companies have built a great reputation of having successful internship programs, most likely because they have built their program after contemplating the following items:

  • What is the purpose of the internship program?
    • Perhaps your organization wants some “fresh ideas”, or maybe you want to create an increased awareness of your company at the university by recruiting college students.  Other companies may be recruiting internships to build a “bench” for future employment opportunities.  Whatever the reason, make sure it is clearly defined so you can build the program around the purpose.
  • What will be the duration of the internship program?
    • Some companies may be interested in summer internships while others may desire internships that continue throughout the year.  The answer to this question may depend on workload, cycles that occur during different times of the years, or special projects that are underway.
  • How will the selection process work?
    • Many companies make their internship programs as competitive as gaining full-time employment within the company.  In some cases, applicants will go through rigorous interview processes including submitting an essay along with college transcripts and a resume.  It is important to determine the factors you will use to screen applicants, and also who will be involved in that process.
  • Where does the internship fit into the organization?
    • It is critical to define how the internship fits into the company goals, and that a job description is created for this position.  The job description should be shared with the intern so they have a clear idea and understanding of their role and how it fits into the organization.
  • Who will “watch over” the intern?
    • A key to many successful programs is to assign a mentor to each intern who can answer questions and offer guidance.  Additionally, this mentor can provide supervision and direction throughout the internship, along with regular progress reports.
  • How will we assess our internship program?
    • An evaluation following the internship should be completed by the intern, the mentor, and faculty advisers (if applicable).  Ask interns to evaluate their experience and provide a written assessment, along with suggestions for improvements, to the employer.  The mentor and others working with the intern should provide feedback on their experience as well.

These are a few of the items to consider for a successful internship program.  Check with our blog next week to find out some of the legal considerations to keep in mind.


May 25, 2012

HR Fact Friday: Honor Memorial Day and Hire a Veteran

Filed under: Hiring & Jobs — Tags: , 9:39 am

Memorial Day is one of my favorite holidays of the year. I look forward to seeing the flags waving and the many tributes to our nation’s fallen heroes that gave the ultimate sacrifice to secure America’s freedom. And the war movie marathon’s aren’t too bad either. Memorial Day is a day of remembrance. There are no gifts to exchange or huge meals to prepare and stress over. A barbecue, some hamburgers, hot dogs, potato salad and you are good to go. Let the summer begin!

Memorial Day is also a day for HR hiring professionals to be reminded that Memorial Day is also a day to remember and appreciate the contributions to our veterans. The unemployment rate for veterans is significantly higher than the national average. This underutilized labor pool is chocked full of well-trained and stress tested candidates with a broad range of skills and leadership experience.

I am happy to say there is a good resource pool of organizations that are committed to helping veterans find employment. One I came across is that is based in Alpharetta, GA and provides employment services to veterans and their spouses across the country.

In this economy there are many well qualified candidates looking for employment and sadly we can’t hire them all. But with all other things being equal, give the veteran solid consideration as a candidate that is a proven team player with leadership skill and the ability to perform under pressure.


May 24, 2012

Destination HR: More on SHRM Annual Conference – Part 2

Filed under: General HR Buzz6:30 am

If it’s at all possible, I may be more excited about the opportunity to attend SHRM annual conference than I was even last week.  The more reading and research I find about the conference, the more I want to know.  Over the coming weeks leading up to the conference, I’ll do my best to share what I have picked up along the way.

  • Planning for this year’s conference in Atlanta started in 2008 – but the nitty gritty details were brought into focus within the last 18 months.
  • Logistics for the conference are mapped out in a 700+ page document that details everything down to the last coffee cup.
  • SHRM staffers rely on volunteer assistance from the local SHRM chapter while in town.
  • Conference sessions from year to year include new topics (social media) and some that are always on tap (FMLA, for example).

New within the last several years, the Practitioner Exchange is a series of sessions that will bring attendees up close with some of the foremost HR professionals in the world.  According to Letty Klutz, Manager of Conference Programming with SHRM, these sessions are offered throughout the conference at different times.  I may have to change my conference schedule!

  • Dan Satterthwaite – Head of Global Human Resources with Dreamworks Animation
  • Ann Morgan – VP, Human Resources and Organizational Development with AutoZone, Inc.
  • April Miller – Senior Vice President, Human Resources with SafeAuto Insurance Company
  • Sylvia Taylor – Executive Vice President, Human Resources with The Weather Channel
  • Andy Lorenzen – Director, Talent Strategy and Systems with Chick-fil-A, Inc.

Also this week, I dug further into the SHRM Buzz site – designed to create buzz about the annual conference.  You can find it here.  There are guest bloggers, tips for first-time attendees, and so many other great pieces of information that I’d run out of room if I tried to list them all here.  I found a great post with tips about using MARTA, Atlanta’s transportation system.  The point is: go and explore the site, you don’t know what you’ll find until you do.

Believe it or not, there actually is some free time built into the schedule.  Get out and enjoy it.  I found some great information in a link from SHRM here.  Here’s one place that is at the top of my list – the World of Coca-Cola.

If you’re headed to HOTlanta at the end of June, remember that HRN will be there, too.  Find us at booth 1345 in the Exhibitor’s Hall – stop by and say hello.  I won’t be at the booth often; I’ll be soaking up as much information as I can fit into my brain.  If you want to connect, find me on Twitter (@JustSayLiv).  I’ll be back next week with some more buzz.


May 22, 2012

Exploring Affirmative Action: Components and Communication

Filed under: Affirmative Action,Employment Law12:16 pm

This month, HRN’s focus is on bringing you information about affirmative action plans.  Last week, my blog outlined the history of affirmative action and the laws that require them.  Today, we’re continuing the discussion with some information about financial institutions, an overview of the basic components of affirmative action, and effectively communicating your plan to stakeholders.

What about financial institutions?

In practical terms, implementation of a written affirmative action plan applies to many employers.  In addition to those required under the terms above, financial institutions that serve as depositories of federal funds, or are covered under Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) are also subject to affirmative action plans.  Prior to January 1, 2012, banks and credit unions were subject to affirmative action if they sold U.S. Savings Bonds, but now the U.S. Treasury Department sells all bonds through its site directly.

So, if a credit union does not serve as a depository for federal funds, is it required to maintain a written affirmative action plan?  According to the OFCCP, the answer is “Yes.”  A government contract has been consistently defined as “Any agreement or agreement modification between any contracting agency and any person for the purchase, sale or use of personal property or nonpersonal services. The term ‘nonpersonal services’ includes, but is not limited to, the following services: utilities, construction, transportation, research, insurance, and fund depository. This definition thus explicitly includes agreements for insurance.” For the full answer, see:

Components of an Affirmative Action Plan

Organizations are required to complete three affirmative action plans on an annual basis:

  1. A plan for Minorities and Women
  2. A plan for Individuals with Disabilities
  3. A plan for Veterans

The Minorities and Women plan includes narratives along with various statistical analyses, including incumbency vs. estimated availability.  However, the Individuals with Disabilities and Veterans plans do not require statistical analysis, and can be combined into a single narrative report.  The Individuals with Disabilities and Veterans plans are required to include full disclosure to applicants and employees who would like to view them.


One of the requirements of affirmative action is that organizations design reporting mechanisms that provide their management with an understanding of the company’s plan and placement goals.  Conduct meetings to communicate the annual plan and implementation strategies.  Use staff meetings and the Intranet site to inform employees of affirmative action policies and make sure that all required notices are posted at every work location.  Be proactive and inform executive management of any problems in their areas so that they can be addressed immediately.  Finally, share the organization’s accomplishments with administrators and supervisors as appropriate so they know if placement goals have been achieved.

Look for more as May comes to a close.  Have you signed up for our legal alerts and free Whitepapers?  You can register here:  Sign up soon, so you won’t miss this month’s edition, all about affirmative action.  You also receive access to our archive, with topics that range from employee development, policies, succession planning, effective interviewing, and much more.


May 21, 2012

New EEOC Website to Check State Charges

I don’t know if it’s just me, but it seems our government is coming out with more on-line tools providing valuable information.  The most recent one is from the EEOC who unveiled a website last week where you can research your state’s charge data for fiscal years 2009-2011.  This data provides a look at EEOC charge receipts, broken down by the basis of discrimination, as well as the percent of total state and national charges.

For example, my state of Kansas had 873 charges for FY 2011, up from 739 in FY 2010.  The highest percentage was in the category of retaliation (40.2%), followed by race (34.7%), sex (32.3%), disability (27.8%) and age (22.9%).  GINA had the fewest charges filed (0.5%).  Overall, the state of Kansas makes up 0.9% of the US total charges.

If you are an employer, it may be useful to know what types of charges are being filed in your state, along with where they fall within the makeup of U.S. charges.  When browsing through the various states, I found some interesting trends that are noteworthy to be aware of.

You can click here to link to the website to check out your state’s total charges.




May 18, 2012

HR Fact Friday: HRN Exhibiting at WorldatWork Total Rewards 2012 Conference

HRN Performance Solutions will once again be an exhibitor at the 2012 Total Rewards WorldatWork Conference and Exhibition taking place May 21-23 at the Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center in Orlando, FL.

If you are attending please stop by and visit with HRN staff representatives Russell Gerrard and Gene Mandarino at booth number 227. We look forward to meeting you!

About WorldatWork: Founded in 1955, WorldatWork provides HR practitioners with knowledge leadership to effectively implement total rewards – compensation, benefits, work-life and executive rewards. WorldatWork has 30,000 members representing 100 countries.

HRN is a respected provider of compensation administration consulting services and software applications serving small to medium sized businesses. The HRN Compease compensation administration and salary planning application is in use by over 800 clients around the country. For more information about Compease go to:

For more information about the conference go to:

See you in sunny Florida!


May 17, 2012

Destination HR: Twitter Discoveries and Atlanta in June

Filed under: General HR Buzz,HRN News — Tags: , 8:19 am

Who has two thumbs, loves HR, and is going to be in Atlanta at the end of June?  I’ll give you a subtle hint: It’s me!  Along with 20,000 of my closest friends, I have the privilege of attending what has been called the “Mecca for HR pros” (more on that in a minute) and I won’t even try to hide my excitement.  I’ve never been before, so how did I get so excited?

A couple of months ago, I decided I needed to finally figure out Twitter.  I’ve had a Facebook account since 2008, but never really embraced Twitter.  I didn’t think I needed another distraction.  I relented, and it turns out it was a smart decision.  Starting out slowly, I “followed” bloggers whose topics included HR, leadership, employee development, and in the interest of full disclosure – a few celebrities, too.

The real-time updates on my feed can get overwhelming at times, so I figured out the list feature, which allows users to separate their feed into manageable categories.  I created one for the HR-related topics, and then set out to find more thought leaders to follow.  That mission led me to this blog, which promised to tell me the top 20 HR mentors I should follow on Twitter.  There were a few people that were already on my “followed” list: Evil HR Lady (@RealEvilHRLady), SHRM (@shrm) and TLNT (@TLNT_com).

I diligently followed the suggestions, and added each one.  That endeavor brought Drive Thru HR (@drivethruhr) into my feed.  The guys at Drive Thru HR – Bryan Wempen and William Tincup – host a daily 30-minute radio show that focuses on HR.  Yesterday, I caught the second in their series of special episodes leading up to the SHRM conference.

Mark Schmit, SHRM’s Vice President of Research, and Alex Alonso, SHRM’s Director of HR Thought Leadership Initiatives, promised to give listeners a preview of some exciting things to come at the conference.  They did not disappoint at least one listener (me).  And, if the Twitter chat going on during the broadcast is any indication, I’m not the only one who’s in complete HR geek overload.

Here’s the hot topic: HR competencies.  In response to membership feedback, SHRM Research Foundation set out to define what it takes to be a successful HR professional.  HR competencies span nine theme areas: competency domains that are indicative of true HR success across the board, according to Schmit and Alonso.  Technical competence is measured by an individual’s knowledge and expertise.  For example, an entry-level HR professional might have demonstrated knowledge by attaining the PHR certification, while a mid-level or executive HR professional attained the SPHR certification.

This approach goes beyond the technical knowledge to define behavioral competencies such as managing relationships, developing and demonstrating business acumen, critical thinking, and demonstrating an individual’s value to the organization.  (I know, I’m excited too, but it gets even better.)

The new HR competency model accounts for the breakneck pace of today’s workplace with an element of fluidity and ability to grow.  Each competency dimension incorporates a focus on providing aspirational elements: understanding the company’s products works for entry level, but would expand and grow from mid- to executive-level positions.  SHRM is also continuing their research on the competency model to ensure it is updated regularly.

William Tincup (@williamtincup) asked Schmit and Alonso to give some advice to first-time attendees.  William gets full credit for calling the SHRM annual conference the “Mecca for HR pros,” by the way. (Genius!)

  • Come with a plan!  Mark said, “If you come without a plan, you’ll be overwhelmed.”  He also suggested letting the plan have some flexibility, to allow for interesting things that pop up along your path.
  • Visit the exhibit hall.  Alex recommends building in time to walk the exhibit hall, including the SHRM booth.  He also teased a competency self-assessment they’re building.

When you’re visiting the exhibit hall, come see us at HRN!  We’ll be at booth # 1345.  Follow us on Twitter (@HRNPerformance) to be the first to know about what we can do for you.

(You can find me on Twitter, too: @JustSayLiv)


May 16, 2012

You Will Want to Check This Out!

Filed under: Benefits,Compensation,Retirement — Tags: 2:40 pm

Every now and then you run across something that is just so good you have to share it.  That is the case of what happened to me yesterday as I was reading through my email inbox of HR newsletters.  Surprising to me, this useful tool happens to be from the Social Security Administration.  Usually we don’t expect to find “helpful” items from the government, but it seems the trend has been turning in that direction.

You may recall those paper statements you receive in the mail annually estimating your retirement benefits.  Those mailings were suspended last year and are currently only being sent to workers 60 and older who aren’t already receiving benefits.  So the only way you have going forward (until you turn 60) to receive this information is to use this tool I stumbled across.

Effective May 1, you may access your retirement benefit information on Social Security’s website,  This website allows you to view an online version of your earnings, along with estimates for retirement, disability and survivors benefits.

The process of logging in is actually pretty simple.  You will be asked a few questions for security reasons, which of course is essential.  And after you set up your user name and password, you are good to go.  There are even some additional calculations you can request for various retirement scenarios.

Hopefully when you log in you will see some numbers that bring a smile to your face.  If not, check out the popular baby names that also appears on the home page.  Another fun link I found along the way!


May 15, 2012

PPA and SNOPA: Why They Are Unnecessary for Common-Sense Employers

Filed under: Employment Law,General HR Buzz,Privacy — Tags: , 8:47 am

Since early spring, it seems one of the hottest topics I’ve been hearing about in HR has been the idea that potential employers want everyone’s Facebook password.  I first talked about it in March, when the story was reported by the AP.  The trend was apparently pervasive, and everyone was doing it (or would soon be).

I’ve always believed that people (and employers) will, as a whole, follow the “Golden Rule.”  I also think that even in a company that doesn’t subscribe to that mantra, decision-makers know that hiring smart people who get the job done equals higher profit.  If employers are running around compelling applicants and employees to fork over their passwords or disclose private information, they’re going to alienate everyone – especially the individuals they really want.

The ACLU (and a few others, it turns out) doesn’t agree with me.  Late last month, the Social Networking Online Privacy Act (SNOPA) was introduced into Congress.  Maryland wasted no time in getting a state law on the books, and several other states have jumped on the bandwagon.  Then, last week, Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Representative Martin Heinrich (D-NM) filed the Password Protection Act of 2012 (PPA).  The ACLU describes the legislation as having highlights and drawbacks:

  • “Sweeping in scope” – Extends to any situation that an employer might attempt to strong-arm an applicant or employee into providing access to information.
  • “Technology-neutral” – It is not limited to social networking, which could be obsolete in a few years.
  • “Glaring omissions… lack of coverage for students” – ACLU argues that SNOPA provides coverage for students.
  • “Fishing expedition” – They believe it allows too many unnecessary exemptions.

After reading this news, I was confused.  It seemed that everyone I talked to and every commentary or blog writer agreed it was a despicable practice to ask someone for this private information.  This morning, I came across this blog at TLNT by Eric Gaydos.  He presents four common-sense reasons why he believes employers will not ask applicants for the Facebook passwords, including that it’s just a plain old bad idea on an employer’s part.  I appreciated his point of view and I think he speaks for leaders that still have a good dose of common sense running through them.

What do you think?  Are SNOPA and PPA necessary, or are employers smart enough to avoid this pitfall?

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