Payday loans

April 24, 2014

Wanted: Soft Skills!

Filed under: General HR Buzz,Hiring & Jobs8:18 am

Positive, Reliable, Respectful, Grateful, Professional.  No, this is not a list on how to flatter your boss, but rather what your boss is looking for in employees.  These are soft skills – those intrinsic skills that generally are not something you can teach, but are part of an individual’s personality. conducted a survey recently that reported that “16 percent of employers said soft skills are more important than hard skills when evaluating candidates for a job.”  This translates to the fact that not only are your experience and knowledge important and needed, but that personality matters!

Here are the top ten most popular soft skills according to the survey:

  1. Candidate has a strong work ethic – 73 percent
  2. Candidate is dependable – 73 percent
  3. Candidate has a positive attitude – 72 percent
  4. Candidate is self-motivated – 66 percent
  5. Candidate is team-oriented – 60 percent
  6. Candidate is organized, can manage multiple priorities – 57 percent
  7. Candidate works well under pressure – 57 percent
  8. Candidate is an effective communicator – 56 percent
  9. Candidate is flexible – 51 percent
  10. Candidate is confident – 46 percent

Analyzing the list above reveals many desirous qualities that contribute to the successful operations of an organization.  Many individuals who simply list their soft skills, but who don’t actually demonstrate them with examples in an interview, will fail to get the job.  Soft skills can be honed only by the employee/applicant.  An employer can teach an employee to perform a task, but cannot teach them to have a great personality!




April 23, 2014

Engineer Demand is High – Good News for College Graduates!

Filed under: Compensation,Hiring & Jobs7:22 am

College graduates studying engineering have something to cheer about!  Bloomberg-BNA recently reported soaring demand for engineers in the manufacturing field, particularly for automation engineers.  Salary increases in this area have been relatively modest according to several salary surveys.  In part, this is due to retiring Baby Boomers.  Replenishing the gaps their departures have created is more difficult as less students are taking these college courses.

In the last few years, we have seen a trend in the return of some of our manufacturing base to the United States which will likely increase demand also.  Alan Carty, President and CEO of and Automationtechies, a recruiting service for engineers, told Bloomberg-BNA “Right now, there is probably no career more secure to get into than manufacturing. Within the manufacturing realm, the real shortage is of people who understand automation and process engineering.”

Although demand may be up for this type of engineering, a number of companies are still somewhat reserved in salary offers, partly based on equity issues with their existing employees. Selected engineering positions also require on-the-job learning skills, making the degree the first step in the career.  Another skillset college students should consider is experience with programming and courses such as C++ or Sharp++ often required for automation and aircraft engineers.  The January 2014 Salary Survey from the National Association of Colleges and Employers says, “Pressing demand for engineers is driving up starting salary offers for engineering majors.”  Petroleum, Computer and Chemical categories round out the top three, but 7 out of 10 highest starting salaries are engineering positions.


April 18, 2014

Did You Know . . . HRN Offers Job Descriptions?

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

When writing job descriptions, do you get as tongue-tied as a fifth grader trying to spell “onomatopoeia” at a spelling bee?  Job Descriptions Plus from HRN Performance Solutions is a collection of more than 650 job descriptions written by HR and legal experts and can save you time, money, and potential litigation.  Don’t settle for those too-good-to-be-true free cookie cutter job descriptions.  A great job description clearly defines the role, responsibilities, and performance requirements for each job position.

Benefits of Job Description Plus
Job descriptions are an important part of any well-organized company, offering the basis for clear employer/employee communication and sound HR practices. But even creating one position description from scratch can take hours. Job Descriptions Plus makes a difficult task straightforward and simple and will pay for itself with the first description you use.

Job Descriptions Plus is much more than job descriptions – it’s a resource, HR expert, and training tool that not only helps you write effective descriptions but also addresses Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) issues.

It includes:
* Hundreds of comprehensive, ready-to-use, editable job descriptions covering most functional areas.
* A job description guide, job analysis worksheets and checklists to help you write new descriptions from scratch and maintain current ones.
* ADA Tools to assist in adding appropriate mental and physical job requirements.
* Exempt/nonexempt materials designed to help you apply complex and confusing FLSA tests used in determining who must be paid overtime.
* FLSA Resources provide detailed information regarding exemption issues, how to protect and maintain exempt status as well as address common.
* FLSA questions surrounding “hours worked,” breaks, time off, calculating overtime, paying employees, and recordkeeping.

Sample Job Descriptions
To view sample job descriptions and a list of all included job titles, go to and click on the link for Job Descriptions Plus.

Available in Word
Available in Microsoft® Word and delivered on CD-ROM, Job Descriptions Plus is easy to use and customize.

For more information:
* Visit
* Call toll-free 800.940.7522
* E-mail


April 17, 2014

Put Me in Coach, Or I Will File a Union Grievance

Filed under: Legal Issues,Unions/NLRB3:52 pm

A regional office of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has ruled that the football players of Northwestern University actually are employees and should be allowed to form a union. The key question was whether the athletes perform services for another under a contract of hire, subject to the other’s control or right of control, and in return for payment. The NLRB office based its ruling on the fact that the college players received a substantial economic benefit (scholarships) for playing football – a revenue-generating sport – and are subject to the college’s control (team rules, practice schedules). The NLRB regional office distinguished graduate assistants (earlier ruled to be students, not employees) “because the players’ football-related duties are unrelated to their academic studies unlike the graduate assistants whose teaching and research duties were inextricably related to their graduate degree requirements.” Northwestern has said it will appeal the adverse ruling to the full NLRB and thereafter to the courts as needed. Thus, this case likely will not be finally resolved for several years.


April 15, 2014

What’s in a Name…Or Job Title?

Filed under: Compensation,Hiring & Jobs6:00 am

In Shakespeare’s famous play, Romeo and Juliet, Juliet asks, “What’s in a name?” Her meaning behind the question is that names are somewhat arbitrary and are not the key element that gives someone value or the qualities he/she possess.

However, when it comes to HR, the “names” we use for jobs are job titles and they certainly carry some weight. Think of some of the strange job titles you’ve seen on an applicant’s résumé or perhaps some your organization actually uses. Maybe it’s a Conversation Architect or an Insight Guru. Perhaps it’s something that’s not quite so strange but may be a bit misleading like a Marketing Manager or an Operations Coordinator.

Job titles have consequences, both positive and negative. Sometimes changing an employee’s job title in lieu of a pay increase can be motivating and boost morale. But what about the websites employees can look at where salaries are self-reported? With this new title, he/she may assume that his/her pay is now in need of an increase as well. Or, what applicants are you misleading or missing out on because the title you posted was above or below their expectations?

And of course, there’s the ever-popular “manager” title. There’s certainly argument to call someone a manager when he/she manages a function, but that can be a double edged sword. Let’s suppose we have an employee who manages various marketing projects and has the title Marketing Manager. If this individual asks around for what Marketing Managers make, suddenly it looks like he/she is underpaid. This employee can feel important to be called a manager, but suddenly be dissatisfied when the title seems to imply more money than he/she is currently receiving.

Moral of the story? Choose your job titles wisely. It can affect morale, your recruiting ability, and turnover.


April 10, 2014

Supreme Court Expands SOX Whistleblower Protection

Filed under: Compliance,Legal Issues6:00 am

In a recent decision, the United States Supreme Court extended the circumstances in which an employer can possibly be held liable for retaliation against whistleblowers. The Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) law passed in the early 2000s prohibits publicly-traded companies from retaliation against whistleblowers who report corporate fraud. The case before the Supreme Court involved the question of whether the law’s anti-retaliation provisions would also apply to a private company which performed contract or subcontract work for a publicly-traded company. The court held that the word “employee” under the relevant SOX provision could be construed to protect employees of such contractors and subcontractors, thus expanding the reach of the SOX whistleblower law.


April 8, 2014

Harassment and Bullying in the Workplace

Filed under: Harrasment,Legal Issues,Title VII — Tags: 6:00 am

What is harassment?

In the employment and legal context, harassment is defined as conduct or actions based on race, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, genetic information, military membership or veteran status that is severe or pervasive enough to create a hostile, abusive or intimidating work environment for a reasonable person.

State laws may further define harassment to include additional protections, such as sexual orientation, marital status, trans-sexualism or cross-dressing, political affiliation, criminal record, prior psychiatric treatment, occupation, citizenship status, personal appearance, tobacco use outside work, receipt of public assistance or dishonorable discharge from the military.

Harassment is:

  • A form of discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the ADA (Americans w/ Disabilities Act), the ADEA (Age Discrimination in Employment Act), or GINA (Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act).
  • Unwelcome verbal or physical conduct based on a person’s race, color, religion, sex or gender, national origin, age (40 and over), disability (mental or physical), or genetic information.
  • Severe, pervasive and persistent conduct that unreasonably interferes with an employee’s work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment.
  • An occurrence where an employee’s status or benefits are directly affected by the harassing conduct of a manager or person of authority.
  • Adverse employment actions (retaliation) against employees who complained of harassment or discrimination or who participate in a complaint procedure.

What is workplace bullying?

In the workplace and as used in this blog, the term “harassment” refers to the illegal form of discrimination. An employee may claim he/she is being harassed; however, he/she may be subjected to inappropriate conduct or behavior that, although not illegal by definition, is unacceptable by your company’s policies and will not be tolerated if proven true. The term frequently used to describe this type of behavior and conduct is often called “workplace bullying.”

Workplace bullying is repeated mistreatment of one or more employees using humiliation, intimidation and denigration. Bullying behavior can exist at any level of an organization.  Bullies can be superiors, subordinates, coworkers, and colleagues.

Some examples of workplace bullying are:

  • Social bantering or teasing
  • Verbal abuse and profanity, humiliation, constant criticism
  • Gossip- conversation & rumors about other people, typically involving details that are not confirmed as being true
  • Taking credit for work performed by others
  • Personal and professional denigration (attacking one’s character/reputation)
  • Overt threats
  • Assignment of an unrealistic workload
  • Aggressive e-mails or notes
  • Professional exclusion or isolation
  • Sabotage of career

Why is it important to prevent harassment and bullying in the workplace?

Compliance with laws that prohibit discrimination and enforcing your internal policy on bullying (or any other type of inappropriate conduct that may not be illegal by definition) are both paramount in preventing lawsuits and litigation costs.  The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) had almost 100,000 employee charges in 2012.  Regardless the number of substantiated claims, the process alone is time-consuming for internal resources and external legal fees are often added to that cost.

What are some measures in preventing EEOC claims and lawsuits?

  • Review your current handbook policies.  Be sure they are accurate, compliant, and up-to-date regarding harassment, inappropriate conduct, sensitivity, and workplace bullying.
  • Ensure every employee receives a copy of these policies and conduct company-wide training.
  • Conduct a separate training session for managers and supervisors, clearly stating expectations when they observe or hear of any violations regarding possible harassment or bullying.



April 3, 2014

Not Selected for RIF – Could It Be Discrimination?

Filed under: Discrimination,Legal Issues,Title VII — Tags: 6:00 am

When a company makes the decision to reduce its workforce, employees experience a wide range of emotions.  Such employment action is very personal.  Some feel angry, some feel numb, some are worried, but most people feel relieved when they were passed over in the selection process for the reduction-in-force (RIF).  Though the initial relief can quickly turn to “survivor’s guilt.”  However, a recent court case illustrates what can happen when an employee doesn’t get selected for the RIF and cries foul!

A long-term worker for the U.S. Postal Service filed claims of gender discrimination and retaliation, among other things, because he was excluded from two RIFs and was transferred to another position.  While most employees would be grateful, the worker considered the transfer an adverse employment action.  As a disabled veteran, had he been included in the RIF, he would have received certain employment rights giving him an opportunity to advance to a higher-level position.  He argued that his exclusion from the RIF was a denial of a promotion.  The court agreed.

The lesson for employers is to document, document, and yes, document!  Adverse employment actions are much more than just terminations.  As shown in this case, the worker sued under Title VII discrimination and retaliation protections.  When an employer is contemplating a reduction-in-force, it is vital to consult with counsel and to document reasons why some employees were included and others were excluded.  Your documentation may come in very handy should you find yourself explaining those reasons to a judge!

Source:  Brody, Robert G. and Warren, Abby M. “Keeping Workers Employed May be Discrimination.”


April 1, 2014

New Overtime Regulations on the Horizon!

Filed under: Compensation,FLSA9:11 am

Nearly all businesses are required to comply with the regulations under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).  On March 13, President Obama directed the Secretary of Labor to update the FLSA to meet several criteria:

  1. Update existing protections in keeping with the intent of the FLSA;
  2. Address the changing nature of the American workplace; and
  3. Simplify the overtime rules to make them easier for both workers and businesses to understand.

What does this mean for American businesses?   In a nutshell, it means that thousands of employees who are currently considered exempt under the FLSA may become eligible to receive overtime compensation for hours worked over 40 in a week.   According to Alfred B. Robinson Jr., former acting administrator of the Wage and Hour division of the US Department of Labor (DOL), the administration is focusing heavily on the salary basis test of the regulation which currently states that an employee must earn at least $455 per week to be considered exempt.  The administration has said that “If the 1974 salary basis test had been indexed, then they would approach approximately $1000 per week in today’s dollar.”

In addition to the salary basis of the exemption, the DOL will also closely examine the primary duties test to ensure that jobs fit into the defined executive, administrative, and professional employee white collar exemptions.  HR professionals should continue to carefully evaluate new positions to determine if they do qualify for a white collar exemption based on the types and frequency of duties being performed.   Once these new regulations are implemented, there will be far reaching implications for HR staff, including new job evaluations, salary structures, and training to managers overseeing newly non-exempt staff.