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November 19, 2010

HR Fact Friday: Are Holiday Parties Sign of Improving Economy?

Great news for people that have been missing the annual company holiday party for the past few years due to budget tightening in a poor economic climate. Holiday events are making a comeback!

With growing signs of economic recovery employers are again warming up to holiday parties.

After two years of cutbacks, layoffs, bailouts and outright bankruptcies, the return of this annual ritual signals that corporate managers are more confident about business prospects and feel a need to invest again in morale, reward and recognition.

In Chicago, IL alone the comeback of company-sponsored get-togethers is providing a year-end boost for the city’s hospitality industry, which was slammed by the recession. Corporate bookings are up significantly from last year at many hotels, restaurants and other venues.

Nationally, 76 percent of employers will hold some type of year-end celebration, according to the Bureau of National Affairs Inc., an Arlington, Virginia-based firm that tracks business practices. That’s up from the decade low of 67 percent last year, though below the peak of 83 percent in 2005. “It really does present a very good idea of where the country is economically at any given point in time,” said Matt Sottong, the bureau’s research director.

But many parties are less extravagant than they used to be. Denis Frankenfield, director of events and catering at the John G. Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, said companies are trimming the trimmings by offering wine and beer instead of a full bar, or dishing up chicken rather than beef. “Most of our events aren’t doing décor, like flowers,” he said. Still, the Shedd is already 75 percent booked.

“I like the fact that we’re seeing some corporate business, which is what we really lost over the last couple of years,” added Tony Camarillo, senior director of sales and events at Navy Pier, a Chicago tourist attraction on the lakefront. “It’s a good sign, but I wouldn’t hang my hat on it yet.”

Source: Crain’s Chicago Business. Kate MacArthur


June 4, 2010

HR Fact Friday: Pay Incentives to Limit Post-Recession Flight

Many U.S. employers are planning to use compensation incentives to limit “post-recessionary employee flight,” according to a survey of HR decision-makers by Workscape, a provider of employee performance, compensation and benefits administration services, conducted at the end of March 2010. According to the survey report, Managing Employees and Total Rewards during the Economic Upswing, 65 percent of respondents are considering or strongly considering pay increases to drive retention as the economy recovers, while only 46 percent will consider benefits increases.

Looking back, only 10 percent of organizations cut employees’ pay as the recession entered its third year in 2009, but 39 percent froze compensation, respondents indicated. The vast majority of those that awarded increases held them to 3 percent or less, and only 2 percent of respondent organizations increased average compensation by 5 percent or more.



May 7, 2010

HR Fact Friday: US Added 290,000 Jobs in April

Filed under: Hiring & Jobs — Tags: , , , , 7:25 am

The American economy added an unexpectedly strong 290,000 jobs in April, while the unemployment rate rose to 9.9 percent, the government said Friday.  Analysts had expected a gain of about 190,000 in the month.

With revisions on Friday, April was the fourth consecutive month that the economy added workers (a revised 230,000 jobs were added in March, instead of 162,000), the job market still has a long way to go before it can be counted on to provide a base for a sustained economic recovery. More than 15.3 million were unemployed last month.



March 12, 2010

HR Fact Friday: Nearly 25% of Workers Put Retirement Plans on Hold

Filed under: Benefits,Retirement — Tags: , , , 8:46 am

Almost one in four workers in an Employee Benefit Research Institute survey postponed plans to retire this year, with 29% of those citing the poor economy as the reason.

The key other reasons cited by the 24% who put off retirement plans included a change in employment status, 22%; inadequate finances, 16%; and the need to make up stock market losses, 12%, according to EBRI’s 2010 Retirement Confidence Survey, released Tuesday, March 9.  Also, only 69% of workers and their spouses this year reported having saved for retirement, down from 75% in last year’s survey.

Still, 16% of workers said they were very confident about having enough money for a comfortable retirement this year, up from 13% during the previous year. Twenty-seven percent this year said the total value of their savings and investments in general, excluding the value of their primary home and any defined-benefit plan, were less than $1,000, and 54% said the total value was less than $25,000. Annuities or other guaranteed-income product were purchased by 14% of retirees, and 11% of workers said they were very likely to do so.

“Americans’ attitudes toward retirement have clearly tracked the economy the last couple of years, and that seems to be the case in 2010,” said Jack VanDerhei, EBRI research director and a co-author of the survey, in a news release. “Unfortunately, while their attitudes are stabilizing, their preparation for retirement is not. A distressing number of people have no savings at all.”

The survey, based on telephone interviews in January with a total of 1,153 workers and retirees age 25 and older, was conducted by EBRI and research firm Mathew Greenwald & Associates.

Source:, Doug Halonen of Pensions & Investments, a sister publication of Workforce Management.


September 18, 2009

HR Fact Friday: More Cuts to Payrolls for End of 2009

Filed under: Hiring & Jobs — Tags: , , , , 7:40 am

Okay, I really am trying to find good HR news to feature in my weekly HR Fact Friday posting. Sadly, it’s just not happening. Even with the statement earlier this week by a top U.S. government official that the recession is “probably” over I just can’t take the glass half full viewpoint. And I am in marketing. That’s my job! I am generally an optimistic person but when it comes to the economy, the only statistic that means anything to the millions of laid off workers across the country is the number of new jobs being added to payrolls. The recession will “probably” be over when hiring for new jobs exceeds layoffs. Projections are that that tipping point will not happen for quite some time. Case in point . . .

There are more employers who expect a decrease in their payrolls over the next 3 months than there are employers who expect an increase, according to a survey of 28,000 employers by Manpower, Inc.

While 12 percent of respondents said they expected to increase staff from October through December, 14 percent of employers said they expected to decrease payrolls. Sixty-nine percent of respondents said they expected no changes to their payrolls.

“The hiring intentions of U.S. companies continue to be sluggish,” said Jeff Joerres, chairman and CEO of Manpower. “While there are areas within the U.S. which are showing an uptick, we have yet to see the robust hiring intentions that would indicate a full labor market recovery.”

After seasonal adjustment, Manpower’s Net Employment Outlook for the fourth quarter of 2009 is -3%, the weakest in the history of the survey, which began in 1962.

Source: Sept. 10, 2009


July 31, 2009

HR Fact Friday: Company Picnic . . . Reality or Myth

Filed under: General HR Buzz — Tags: , , , , 7:23 am

Here we are smack dab in the middle of summer. It’s a good time of year. Days are long so there is time in the evenings for outdoor activities, folks are taking or planning vacations, and your company picnic is today so you can look forward to not having to work this afternoon, making a fool of yourself in the sack relay race, sinking your boss with a well aimed throw in the dunk tank, and filling up on free food and drinks. Ah, good times. Or are they?

Here at HRN, the annual summer company picnic is a relatively new event. In the past we have historically put all our eggs in the Holiday dinner event. But a few years ago we branched out and now hold a summer family oriented employee appreciation event as well. They are pretty low key as far as corporate events go. We reserve a pavillion at a local park, have some food, drinks, and ice cream brought in, and hold a variety of fun, family oriented competitive contests. Oh and then there’s the grand finale . . . the prize raffle.

The event is a lot of fun and employees look forward to participating along with their family each year. But this is a rough year economically for many businesses which means all non-essential expenses must be controlled and considered. So, is the summer company picnic taking this year off as cash strapped businesses look for ways to tighten their belt?

According to an online SHRM poll (take the poll by going to: that is currently open and accepting votes:

  • 34% of respondents say YES, their company is holding a summer picnic/company event this year.
  • 14% say YES but event is being scaled back
  • 33% say NO, although we have had them in the past, and;
  • 20% say NO, and we have never had a summer picnic or company event

So the data submitted to date supports the assumption that companies are cancelling or scaling back on summer employee events.  Not surprising I suppose. In tough times employees would prefer a job and paycheck over a cold hot dog, a flat soda, or a twisted ankle rounding 3rd base. But if your company is hosting a summer event, attend, appreciate the gesture, get to know your coworkers and their family, and above all RELAX, don’t talk about work and ENJOY yourself.


January 9, 2009

HR Fact Friday: CEO Salaries in for Rough Year

Filed under: Salaries & Pay — Tags: , , , 11:57 am

There may be one common sense result from the current economic downturn and resulting unemployment and fiscal belt tightening.  After rising unchecked for years, CEO pay may be headed for a fall.

Compensation experts say the severe economic downturn, a shift in the political winds and shareholder outrage could finally combine to pressure companies to limit raises or, in some cases, even cut executive salaries.

That has occurred a few times already. Last month, Motorola Inc., facing drastic cost cuts, announced that its co-CEOs, Gregory Brown and Sanjay Jha, had agreed to take 25% reductions in 2009 salary. Caterpillar Inc. recently said its executives, including CEO Jim Owens, could see their total compensation decline by as much as 50% next year because of cuts in incentive pay. Both companies cut rank-and-file compensation as well.

Reducing executive pay has a minor impact on profits, but it helps companies avoid the perception that CEOs don’t suffer along with employees and shareholders.

It’s anybody’s guess who might join executives at Motorola and Caterpillar in having their wallets lightened. Candidates could include UAL Corp. CEO Glenn Tilton and Boeing Co. chief James McNerney.

Both companies face job cuts, and both men rank among the highest-paid CEOs in Chicago. United Airlines pilots, who are facing the loss of 950 jobs, have called for the ouster of Tilton and say he should at least take a pay cut.

A UAL spokeswoman said the company’s executive pay “is market-based and on par with other comparably sized companies.”

This year, compensation experts expect changes in federal law to impose so-called “say on pay” measures universally. The legislation likely will be introduced in the House early this year, two years after Congress last voted it down. The sponsor of the failed 2007 bill: then-Sen. Barack Obama.

Source:  John Pletz of Crain’s Chicago Business, a sister publication of Workforce Management.