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July 30, 2012

What the Heck? Swearing Can Harm My Career?

Filed under: Employment Law,General HR Buzz3:56 pm

About this time of summer, we are getting weary of the heat.  This year proves to be no exception as we have experienced stretches of days with heat index warnings.  Excessive and continued heat also seems to affect our behavior in the workplace.  People may seem grumpier and it may seem easier to let a four-letter word slip out when the heat is on.

According to a new CareerBuilder survey of more than 6,000 employers and employees, it’s important to watch your language.   The survey, conducted in May-June of this year, included more than 2,000 hiring managers and 3,800 workers across industries and company sizes.  The survey produced some interesting results.  More than half (51%) of workers reported that they swear in the office.  They are selective, however, as to who they swear in front of, as indicated below.

  • 95% swear in front of coworkers
  • 51% swear in front of their boss
  • 13% swear in front of senior leaders
  • 7% swear in front of clients (really?)

Perhaps the most important element of the survey was how swearing is looked at from a manager’s perspective.   Apparently swearing creates a roadblock for promotions and brings the employee’s professionalism into question.  Specific feedback includes the following:

  • 81% believe the use of curse words brings the employee’s professionalism into question
  • 71% says swearing creates a concern for lack of control
  • 68% indicate swearing represents a lack of maturity
  • 54% stated it makes an employee appear less intelligent

To read more about this survey, you may click here.


July 27, 2012

HR Fact Friday: U.S. Unemployment Rates by State

Filed under: General HR Buzz,Hiring & Jobs — Tags: 6:00 am

Reprinted from the monthly HRN People Pay Performance e-newsletter. Source

July, 2012 U.S. Unemployment rates by state.


July 24, 2012

Is Your Wellness Budget Alive and Kicking?

Filed under: Benefits,General HR Buzz,Wellness10:19 pm

As you begin to work through the annual budgeting process, you are often confronted with the question: Are we going to continue to put money into this program or not? Those decisions are tough; everyone wants to believe their program is adding value to the organization. One program I wanted to consider today was wellness.

According to participants in a survey recently released by Virgin HealthMiles (, 32 percent of those offering a wellness program indicate they will be increasing their investment in the program by as much as 10 percent. Why are employers offering wellness programs? The number one response was to “reduce healthcare costs” followed by “creating a culture of health”.

Wellness experts agree that achieving return on investment in a wellness program requires consistency and a long-term outlook; realizing healthcare savings takes longer than expected. Flu shots and cancer screenings are typically viewed as cost effective because healthcare savings can be shown in a short amount of time. Yet these types of activities do not require employees to actually change behaviors. The programs’ ability to change employee behaviors as well as the ability to measure the programs’ true impact are top concerns voiced by employers when considering the viability of a wellness program.

What is your organization doing with its wellness program budget this year? How are you measuring your return on investment, in the short-term and the long-term? Let us know your thoughts.


July 23, 2012

Are You a Digital Citizen?

Filed under: General HR Buzz9:38 am

As a Baby Boomer /Gen Y (depending what time charts you refer to), I vividly remember the advent of computers, cell phones and social media. My first experience with a computer was at my first official job after college. It was big, clunky, very slow, and DOS based. The DOS commands are forever engrained in my brain. At that age, I was the “young” person in the office and so excited to learn about Lotus 1-2-3 and WordPerfect!

Fast forward 30 years, I realize I may be a little behind the times as I was reminded when I ran across a new term that I wasn’t familiar with. That term is “digital literacy”. According to Wikipedia, the definition of digital literacy is the ability to locate, organize, understand, evaluate, and analyze information using digital technology. Wikipedia goes on to say “It involves a working knowledge of current high-technology, and an understanding of how it can be used. Further, digital literacy involves a consciousness of the technological forces that affect culture and human behavior. Digitally literate people can communicate and work more efficiently, especially with those who possess the same knowledge and skills.”

The technology referred to includes computer hardware, software, the Internet, and cell phones. And someone who uses these skills to interact with society may be called a digital citizen. I don’t know if this is a term we will start seeing on resumes, but it made me wonder if the following will soon be a question we ask during interviews: “Do you consider yourself to be digitally literate and a digital citizen?”

These are undoubtedly skill sets that are essential for most jobs in the workplace. Just as filing, using the 10-key, and handwriting were important at one time, these new skills have risen to a point of necessity in most every job. If you are interested in reading more about this, there are other resources available:

  • Digital– U.S. Department of Labor website titled as “your destination for digital literacy resources and collaboration
  • Microsoft Digital Literacy – providing a curriculum to help develop a fundamental understanding of computers

Even as a Baby Boomer, I believe I am a digital citizen, even if in the entry level of the definition.


July 20, 2012

HR Fact Friday: Do You Really Know Who You are Hiring?

Filed under: Compliance,Hiring & Jobs6:00 am

It must be sobering to HR recruitment professionals to learn that approximately 40% of new hires leave their position within 18 months. And let”s face it, recruiting, on-boarding, training, etc. is expensive and a drag on productivity and resources.

There has been a lot of focus in the recent past centered on pre-employment background checks for criminal, driving, drug and alcohol abuse, etc. Background checks certainly are an important component to avoid hiring an employee whose past behavior puts them at a high risk as a potential liability in your organization. But there is another component of the pre hire process that can go much further to determine if a candidates personality and aptitude is well suited to the position they are being considered to fill. How an employee conducts themselves in an interview can only provide a limited amount of information upon which to base such an important decision. Therefore organizations that routinely administer pre-employment job assessments to candidates stand a much better chance of hiring candidates that are well suited to a particular role and offer the greatest probability of succeeding.

For example what are the main characteristics that make a successful and top performing sales representative . . .competitiveness, persistence, energy, sales drive, self reliance, etc? Wouldn”t it be helpful to measure and index sales position canditates against a profile of baseline qualifiers that show who has the highest potential for being successful?

Or what if you are hiring a bank teller or bookkeeper? Wouldn”t you want to know if they can be trusted, are dependable and have a high degree of personal and professional integrity?

HRN has partnered with Profiles International to offer volume discounts on several of their most popular pre-employment assessment reports. For more information simply visit the HRN website at: to view a summary of these services and request additional service and pricing information.


July 19, 2012

Road Rage and Texting While Driving Among Commuters’ Perils

Filed under: General HR Buzz9:59 am

When it comes to the subject of traffic, I’ll admit Wichita has nothing on larger cities.  Friends and co-workers who have visited always have a good laugh when they overhear others complaining about the “rush hour” traffic.  Although I’ve always felt Wichita was big enough for me, I know I’m no expert on the long commute.

However, I do have three daughters (ages 10, 7, and 2) and my husband goes to work earlier than I do in the morning.  That means my mornings are full of preparations of all kinds.  In spite of the inevitable surprises that come up occasionally, my girls have become self-sufficient and are generally flexible.

Most mornings, I arrive to work relaxed and ready to get started.  It’s rare that I have ever experienced road rage.  In terms of demographics among the groups I’m in, I fall into the minority.  Among women, 61% admitted to feeling road rage, compared to 56% of men.  Among different age groups, those 25-34 were the most likely to feel road rage (68%); while workers 55 and older were the least likely (55%).  Careerbuilder’s latest survey release was conducted among almost 4,000 U.S. full-time workers and revealed that many commuters have more than traffic to worry about on their way to work.

It comes as no surprise that commuters’ other peril on the road takes the form of mobile devices, or rather, the people who use them to text while driving.  Among survey respondents, 30% admitted to texting while they were driving.  Many states have enacted laws that ban texting while driving, making it a primary offense to do so.

Here are a couple of other startling facts about distracted driving from

  • Driving while using a cell phone reduces the amount of brain activity associated with driving by 37%. (Carnegie Mellon)
  • Sending or receiving a text takes a driver’s eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, the equivalent-at 55 mph-of driving the length of an entire football field, blind. (VTTI)
  • In the month of June 2011, more than 196 billion text messages were sent or received in the US, up nearly 50% from June 2009.(CTIA)

July 16, 2012

Preventing Heat Stroke – There’s an App for That!

Filed under: General HR Buzz,Hiring & Jobs9:20 am

Fortunately, my job worksites have always been inside nice air conditioned offices, with the exception of my summers on the farm helping with wheat harvest.  Many occupations aren’t  so fortunate and this summer has provided some brutal heat for those workers.  We had a brief cooldown but temperatures in St. Louis, Atlanta, Baltimore, Nashville and many other areas are expected to soar to 100 degrees in the coming days.   And that means anyone working outdoors should be on guard for signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

To prevent heat-related illnesses, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has developed a mobile app, the Heat Safety Tool.  This mobile application provides critical information that allows workers and employers to view the risk level for outdoor work based on the heat index in their area.  The app, available for iPhone and Android platforms, educates users on the signs and symptoms of heat illness, and has first aid information available if heat illness strikes.  Summer is officially here, so download the app — in English or Spanish — and have life-saving information available at your fingertips!

Download the App

Learn More about the Heat Campaign

Find Your Local Weather Forecast



July 13, 2012

HR Fact Friday: Healthcare Reform – What Does it Mean for Employers in 2012?

Filed under: Benefits,Employment Law,Legal Issues — Tags: 6:00 am

(Thanks to Jones Waldo employment benefits and tax attorney Bruce Babcock for contributing to this analysis.)

I asked Bruce Babcock, Jones Waldo employment law attorney working in the area of benefits and tax law, to again help remind us what the health care reform law all means now that it is the year 2012. Here is his summary (Thanks again Bruce!)

“The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision upholding the majority of the health care reform law means that provisions that already went into effect will remain in force, including dependent coverage up to age 26, prohibition of pre-existing conditions and lifetime dollar limitations on coverage and a tax credit for small employers (fewer than 25 full-time employees) who provide insurance to their employees.  It also means that employers will need to gear up to comply with the additional provisions as they become effective.  The additional provisions include:



July 12, 2012

60 Hours of “Your” Time: How Will You Spend it?

Filed under: General HR Buzz2:43 pm

On Monday mornings in our office, the usual greetings often include this question: “How was your weekend?”  And if your office is like most, you’ve got at least one person who says “Not long enough.” (Full disclosure: I’ve actually said this myself a time or two.)  By the time we get to Thursday, the question turns to: “What are you doing this weekend?”  Usually, answers are filled with child-centered activities, or chores around the house.

In my house, weekends are used to catch up on all the chores I couldn’t get to during the week: laundry, outdoor maintenance, organizing email and paying bills.  Every once in a while, we fit in some fun activities, but we usually don’t plan ahead for them.  Laura Vanderkam would say that I’m not making the most of my weekends: “Here’s one way to look at it: There are 60 hours between 6 p.m. Friday and 6 a.m. Monday. Even if you sleep for 24 of those hours, that leaves 36 hours for other things. That’s the equivalent of a full-time job. Yet many of us hit Monday morning with a vague sense of having squandered our precious downtime on activities that didn’t help us recreate.”

It stands to reason that people who are successful at work are successful at home as well.  Planning out your weekend, much like you plan out your entire week will give you the chance to orchestrate the things you want to do.  When Monday comes around, you’ll come in feeling like you actually had a few days off for yourself.

She suggests a three step process to building the kind of weekend that will make everyone in your office marvel at how relaxed you are on Monday morning.  You can read more about the process here, but here’s a quick rundown: make a list of things you want to do or have in your life (100 minimum); plan your weekend in chunks of time (Friday evening, Saturday morning, etc.), then pull 3 to 5 of your list items to plug into those time chunks; then, control the chaos by containing your “Have-to-dos” into a 2-3 hour block.  You’ll still have plenty of your weekends left for downtime in front of the TV or taking your little princess to dance class.

Here’s your chance to start this weekend right.  How many items can you add to your list?  Here’s a bigger challenge: incorporate a few of them into this weekend!



July 11, 2012

The FMLA Doesn’t Have to Be Complicated

Filed under: Benefits,Compliance,Employment Law,FMLA11:53 am

When the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) was introduced in 1993, human resource professionals knew there was probably more to the Act than what appeared on the surface.  The basics of FMLA were seemingly simple to understand:

  • Generally applies to employers of 50 employees or more
  • Provides twelve workweeks of leave in a 12-month period for reasons specified in the act.

In the past, we learned through introduction of other acts that they seem to be more complicated once they are implemented.   Items such as intermittent leave, coordination with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and worker’s compensation added complexity to FMLA.  Apparently the Wage and Hour Department (WHD) understood the complexity and recently issued a new Employee Guide to the Family and Medical Leave Act which was rolled out June 27 in a webinar hosted by WHD Deputy Administrator Nancy Leppink.  The high-demand webinar attracted nearly 8,000 registrants submitting more than 2,000 online comments and questions during the session.

A team of FMLA experts from the department responded live to comments and questions from a web chat room setup for the event.  Those participating in the webinar included Leppink who kicked things off, followed by Dr. Avis Jones-DeWeever, executive director of the National Council of Negro Women; Charles M. Fox, executive director, Disability Management Employer Coalition; and Naz Meftah, a new mom of triplets who spoke movingly about how recent updates to the FMLA directly helped her new family.

The new guide, available online and in print, includes easy-to-follow and informative charts that map out the FMLA leave process and a summary of how coverage and eligibility are determined.

View the Slideshow

Listen to the Archived Webinar

Download the FMLA Guide

Learn more about FMLA

Thank you, WHD, for providing this valuable information!

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