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April 29, 2013

Things are Looking Up for 2013 College Grads!

Filed under: General HR Buzz3:19 pm

I’m always interested in hearing what the outlook is for college graduates.  In the recent years due to the downturn in the economy, the outlook hasn’t been too bright but the last couple of years have indicated a stronger job market.  That’s good news for recent graduates, employers, and those parents who have been investing money in their child’s education with the hopes of securing a steady job (and being removed from mom and dad’s payroll).

The annual Harris Interactive© nationwide survey, conducted from February 11 to March 6, 2013, indicated that more than half (53%) of US employers plan to hire recent college graduates in 2013.   This represents a significant increase from 2010 where only 44% of employers reported the same.

You may be wondering how this varies by industry, so here are the stats:

  • 65% – Information technology employers
  • 63% – Financial service employers
  • 56% – Health care employers

What kind of earnings can a new college graduate anticipate these days?  It seems to be fairly evenly distributed between $30k to > $50k:

  • 25% – Less than $30,000
  • 29% – $30,000 to < $40,000
  • 20% – $40,000 to < $50,000
  • 25% – $50,000 and higher

The top areas for college graduates are focused primarily in two areas:  front-line customer and client facing roles (such as customer service and sales), and jobs that require specific technical knowledge such as IT, finance, or health care.

The survey, conducted by Harris Interactive© on behalf of CareerBuilder, interviewed over 2,000 hiring managers and human resource professionals.  Although the jobs are increasing, it still is a competitive market so new grads should remember to network, do homework on the company they are interviewing with, and also include “non-work” experience in their resume such as internships, volunteer work, and involvement in outside activities.  Welcome to the work world, 2013 graduates!


April 26, 2013

HR Fact Friday: EEOC Updates

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


The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently held hearings on the quality of its investigations. Issues discussed included better ways for investigators to communicate to the charging parties, whether the EEOC should reveal its initial case classification to an employer (A= likely finding for employee; B= uncertain; C= likely finding for employer), ways to move cases along more quickly (investigators carry a caseload of over 100 open cases each), and how the EEOC conciliation process is hampered by the agency’s unwillingness to explain the basis for its cause findings. The EEOC hopes to implement a new quality control plan for investigations during the year 2014.


Speaking at a recent webinar, an EEOC regional lawyer recently warned employers that they likely will face more claims of pregnancy discrimination. She indicated that such claims often include direct and overt evidence, such as an employer expressly telling an applicant she was not hired because she will be unavailable (i.e. giving birth) soon. The conference also discussed a rise in claims under the ADA from persons having to care for disabled family members and new legal theories being used to assert “caregiver” discrimination claims by employees caring for young children or elderly parents.


April 25, 2013

Change Your Thinking about Performance Management

Filed under: General HR Buzz6:00 am

Having recently attended SHRM’s Talent Management Conference in Las Vegas, my head is swimming with new ideas and strategies in the HR Realm.  Conferences tend to focus on where the future is heading and how we, as HR professionals, can be sure to be a relevant part of that change in our organizations –  if not a driver of change.  While Performance Management was not a significant focus of the conference this year, there were many concepts that were highly applicable in terms of making this process more strategic and effective in our organizations.  As one presenter put it, “New growth comes from new thinking.”

In many organizations, Performance Management is considered by management and employees as a necessary evil.  As a trainer, I have had many opportunities to speak with both appraisers and employees about how they really feel about this process.  Managers often dread appraisal time and do what’s necessary to get it done and off their desks for another year.  Employees are often ambivalent about it.  How can we get our managers and employees to think differently?

The answer:  Position Performance Management as a strategic process in your organization and link it to your overall success.  Give employees, at all levels, line of sight as to how this process impacts your key performance metrics.  Make the process meaningful at the highest level and work to ensure personal development outcomes.  If employees have a big picture understanding of the importance of this process AND they are realizing professional growth and development coupled with organizational success, thinking will change.

Easier said than done, I agree.  Here are some steps to get you started:

  1. As a strategic planning committee, talk about your performance management process and how it supports and sustains your strategic plan.  If it doesn’t, make the needed adjustments.
  2. Train managers.  In today’s information age, managers not only need to have a thorough understanding of your strategic plan; they also need to be able to think more strategically in their managerial and individual contributor roles.
  3. Communicate the plan and how all of your important business processes support it.  Help employees at all levels to have a clear line of sight from their day-to-day job functions to the overall success of the organization.  Studies show that employees are more engaged when their work has meaning and purpose.  It’s HR’s job to give them that vision.

April 24, 2013

“Say Cheese!” – Biometric Time Clocks Coming to a Workplace Near You!

Filed under: Salaries & Pay6:00 am

Biometric time clocks are making their arrival at numerous businesses around the country.  But, what is a biometric time clock and how does it work?  Biometric time clocks create digital records of when an employee comes to work (clocking in) and when he leaves (clocking out).  You may ask what is so different about that.  It is because you are the only you!  Only your smile (facial recognition), your fingerprint, or your vein patterns can clock you in creating a digital audit trail.  No more buddy punching by coworkers clocking each other in and out! reported on a study conducted in 2009 by Harris Interactive, Inc.  The study revealed that “21 percent of hourly employees admit to stealing company time.  While only 5 percent participated in buddy punching, 69 percent said they punch in and out earlier or later than scheduled, 22 percent put additional time on their time sheet, and 14 percent didn’t punch out for unpaid lunches or breaks.”  These practices are all dishonest which is why some companies have implemented biometric systems to curtail fraudulent activities robbing them of valuable time and money.  Others utilize biometric time clocks for efficiency, thus significantly cutting the time it takes to process their payrolls.

Recently, Daniyal Enterprises, LLC and its owner, Waseem Chaudhary along with other companies operated by Chaudhary, have agreed to pay $2 million in overtime back wages and an additional $1 million in liquidated damages to 417 workers employed at 72 of Chaudhary’s New Jersey gas stations after investigations by the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Wage and Hour Division found violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).  The DOL reported that employees often worked up to 84 hours per week, but did not receive overtime pay.  Many were paid partly on the payroll and partly off the books, sometimes in cash, to disguise the improper payment of overtime.  The company failed to maintain accurate records of the hours employees worked, which is a requirement of the FLSA.  The company will have to abide by a three-year monitoring program designed by the DOL.  What was interesting is that it included the installation of biometric time clocks in each establishment.  What used to be only a high-security government clearance tool or a sci-fi looking gadget may soon make its way into your workplace.

We would like to know what you think about biometric time clocks!


April 22, 2013

Are You Ready for an I-9 Audit?

Filed under: General HR Buzz3:29 pm

Recently a revised Employment Eligibility Verification  form, commonly referred to as the I-9, was issued effective March 8, 2013.  Although a 60-day grace period was issued through May 7, 2013, it is recommended that employers begin using the new form immediately.

Along with the new form came some news indicating there has been a huge jump in I-9 audits rising from just three audits in 2004 (yes, that’s right – three!) to 500 in 2008 and 3,004 in 2012.  Any violations found from an audit fall under the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) and penalties can add up quickly.

So what can you do to avoid violations and/or penalties should you be audited?

  1. Someone physically present must validate the documentation presented for validation.  This person also needs to complete Section 2.  If you have employees who work off-site or at a different location, then another resource needs to be selected such as a local law firm or a notary public.
  2. Complete the form within the designated timeframes.  The employee must complete Section 1 no later than the first day of employment, but not before accepting a job offer.  Section 2 needs to be completed within 3 business days of the employee’s first day of employment.
  3. Properly destroy of I-9 forms.  You can be assessed penalties if you do not destroy I-9″s according to the instructions.  As part of your termination checklist, you should calculate when the terminated employee’s I-9 should be shredded.  It should be the latest of either (a) three years after date of hire, or (b) one year after date of termination.

These are just a few of the targeted items for audits, but there are many more items which could create penalties for your organization.  There are more detailed instructions in the Handbook for Employers which is available on this website:  Additionally, HRN’s consultants can help with compliance issues, including audits, so please keep us in mind if you need assistance in this area.


April 17, 2013

“Yes, Boss!”

Filed under: Work/Life Balance8:55 am

Just how far would you go to please the boss?   We all want peace and harmony at work, minus the harp music, but there has to be a line that neither you nor the boss will cross!  Healthy work environments tend to foster friendships in the workplace, even between employees and their bosses.  If you and your boss are friends, great!  On the other hand, we”ve been cautioned not to “friend” our boss or employee on social media, because that friendly environment could quickly turn litigious and maybe ruin what was simply a good friendship!

Another thing that could possibly ruin the interpersonal relationship of a boss and employee came to my mind when writing this blog.  I recall that one time the CEO (boss) asked an employee (his administrative assistant, not me!) to pick up his dry cleaning.  Another time he asked if he could borrow some cooking pans from her because he didn”t have any and was having company that liked to cook.  OK, I know what you are thinking . . . that was a bit much, but read on, my friend, and see what came up with when they asked more than 3,500 workers to share the most unusual things their bosses had asked them to do.   A few follow:

  • Boss asked employee to be prepared to delete all emails and computer files at a moment”s notice
  • Boss asked employee to be a surrogate mother for her – more than once
  • Boss asked employee to buy a rifle for him, and he would reimburse the employee
  • Boss asked employee to fire his (the boss”s) brother
  • Boss asked employee to remove her stitches
  • Boss asked employee to scour an abandoned office building for furniture and supplies they could use

You can read the rest of the unusual requests here!   According to Rosemary Haefner, Vice President of Human Resources at CareerBuilder, “The study shows the majority of workers have a good relationship with their bosses, where they feel supported and valued.”  She added, “If your boss is asking you to do something outside of your scope of work responsibilities, it”s important to have open communications around what is appropriate.”

As for the admin I mentioned above.  She was a trouper; she loaned him her cook pans!


April 15, 2013

It Doesn’t “Look” Good for Abercrombie & Fitch

Filed under: General HR Buzz6:00 am

If you are like me, you may have noticed that certain retail establishments seem to hire employees who  have the “look”.  The look may vary between fashion stores, but it seems there is similarity in their dress, hairstyle, makeup, and just overall appearance.  As an HR professional, I have often wondered if having the look was a requirement in order to be hired.  And if so, couldn’t that be discriminatory?

It seems Abercrombie and Fitch is finding out.  They are being sued by the EEOC after refusing to hire a teenager for a part-time job because she wore a hijab, the Islamic head scarf.  Abercrombie asked for a motion for summary judgment, which was denied last week meaning the case will go to trial.  The fact that the applicant wore a hijab did not fit Abercrombie’s “preppy look”, a look they try to maintain in their retail stores.

Other factors contributing to this case aren”t adding up to a good situation for Abercrombie.  In the interview process, this applicant scored high enough, although minimally, to be eligible for hire.  However, three male applicants – who scored lower than the applicant with the hijab – were hired!

There are many more details to this case and it will be interesting to see what the jury thinks.  Discriminating based on looks is not a good idea, whether you have a retail business, office setting, or operate any kind of business.  By being consistent and thorough in the job interview process and not including subjective items you will most likely stay on the good side of the EEOC.  Which is a good place to be.



April 12, 2013

HR Fact Friday: EEOC Expresses Views on Drug Testing

Filed under: Drugs6:00 am

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently filed suit against a company and alleged that the company went too far with its drug testing policies. That lawsuit resulted in a settlement with the company paying $750,000. The settlement included a requirement that prohibited the company from “conducting employee drug screens that are not job-related or consistent with business necessity.” You can read about this lawsuit, and the settlement terms, here:

Thus, if you are drug testing and/or acting on those results, you want to show that you have a legitimate business reason to test (i.e. you are not simply doing it in an effort to ferret out medical information about employees) and you want to document that there were legitimate business reasons for discharging/disciplining an employee based on the results of those tests. This is especially true if the positive test results are for prescription drugs, rather than illegal drugs. For example, in a related note, a federal court in Pennsylvania recently dismissed an EEOC lawsuit challenging an employer’s practice of conducting random drug testing because the court found that the random tests served the legitimate business interests of ensuring safety in safety-sensitive positions.

HRN Performance Solutions provides background check services that include a full range of selections including drug screening/testing, criminal record, DMV report and credit history. To learn more about these services go to the HRN website by


April 10, 2013

How to Show You Value Your Aging Workforce

Filed under: Engagement6:00 am

Mature.  Seasoned.  Experienced.  Well-established.  Old school.  Overqualified.  All are words some persons attribute to the aged workforce.   Decades of experience and valuable knowledge of business processes contribute to the fact that many older workers are more highly compensated than someone newer to the workforce and more than likely, younger.  Regardless of their skills and talent, the older worker at times is replaced for younger competition eager for the opportunity to prove themselves in a position of responsibility, whether they have been primed for it or not.  Such business decisions can result in lawsuits alleging age discrimination.

One such case was heard in an Ohio court.  Richard Warden, a retired engineer, was hired by the state on a contract basis.  Prior to this he had worked for the state for nearly 30 years.  When he applied for a full-time job with them, he scored higher than any other applicant.  So did he get the job?  No, he was rejected when the state made the contract job a full-time position and gave it to someone 15 years his junior!  Warden was awarded more than $500,000 to settle his claim of age discrimination.

This example illustrates that age discrimination does happen and with a high cost!  The Department of Labor reports that workers over age 55 spend more time unemployed than their younger counterparts.  Besides their higher earnings, it is perceived that it costs more to employ an older worker and that they won’t be able to fully perform the job duties.

What can be done to change that perception?  The truth is that perceptions are not always an accurate picture of reality.  An older worker possesses a wealth of knowledge that comes from years of experience.  Many have mastered the art of collaboration and the wisdom of listening.  An older worker makes a great mentor for the younger generations, helping them better understand the unique dynamics of the workplace in a positive and productive manner.  They can teach valuable communication skills having built their own professional network and boasting longevity in their careers.  An employer will find themselves well ahead of the game if they utilize these many hidden talents of their loyal workforce and foster it by offering training to keep their workers’ knowledge current and at times, flexible work schedules or part-time employment.   They’ll find that those hidden talents weren’t really hidden, but were there all along!


April 5, 2013

HR Fact Friday: Paper Form I-94 Eliminated

Filed under: General HR Buzz — Tags: 6:00 am

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced that it’s doing away with the familiar paper Form I-94 for most users. The paper card has greeted most foreign nationals arriving in the United States for the last 50 years.

Stating that the move would ease entry into the U.S. and save millions of dollars in processing costs, the agency formally submitted new rules March 27, 2013, that would automate the form and make it electronic.

Form I-94 provides international visitors with evidence they have been lawfully admitted to the U.S., which is necessary to verify alien registration, immigration status and employment authorization.

The automation means that affected visitors will no longer need to fill out a paper form when arriving to the U.S. by air or sea. Paper Forms I-94 will still be provided to those without a passport, such as refugees and asylees.

The change will become effective on April 26, 2013, and will be implemented at air and sea ports of entry in a phased approach beginning April 30, CBP said. The phased implementation should take about one month, a CBP official told SHRM Online.

Since 2001, CBP has collected information on travelers by air or sea to the United States electronically from carriers in advance of arrival. Thus, for people arriving in the United States by air or sea, CBP obtains almost all of the information contained on the paper Form I-94 electronically and in advance. Therefore, the agency is transitioning to an automated process whereby it will create an electronic Form I-94 based on the information in its databases. The rule makes the necessary changes to the regulations to enable CBP to transition to an automated process.

The automation provides immediate and substantial benefits to the traveling public, to carriers, to CBP and other stakeholders, the agency said. “The automation will eliminate most of the duplicative paper Form I-94 process and reduce wait times at passenger processing, which will facilitate entry of all travelers.”

The automation will also save the time and expense associated with lost Forms I-94, as travelers will simply be able to print out a new copy from the website if needed rather than file an I-102, as currently required, which has a fee of $330.

Additionally, carriers will no longer have to print, store and distribute the forms, and CBP will not have to process them.

Source: SHRM, Roy Maurer 3/27/13

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