Monday, January 03, 2011

We Have Moved Hope You Follow

Some changes have occurred at Omega HR Solutions, Inc. One of these changes that has occurred is that our blog HR Observations is now found at our website, as the main page. So visit us there for all future blog posts and watch as our site also improves.

You can now find HR Observations here.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A 2011 Human Resources Forecast

I am not really big on making "lists" so you will not see from me lists of the good or bad or best or whatever. However, I am big on forecasts and I thought this one was good. It is from the Herman Trend Alert and is reproduced with permission.
1. Recruiting will intensify. We are already seeing the large companies looking for increasing numbers of employees. Later in 2011, the small and medium-size companies will join the scrimmage. More companies that had eliminated their recruiting function will hire inside people to offset their expenses of headhunter fees.
2. Unemployment will remain relatively high. We expect unemployment to remain over 8 percent for the coming year. The challenge for employers is that many of the unemployed do not have the skills they are looking for.
3. Workforce development will increase in importance. As communities realize the disparity between desired skills and those people actually possess, the issue of workforce development will become more important. The federal government will pass legislation to assist in this process.
4. More employers will embrace technology to manage processes and keep track of relationships. Companies providing software to employers will see their businesses grow. Employers will face the challenges of training their people in these new systems.
5. More companies will tap women for executive positions. With increases in the percentage of women in colleges, universities, and graduate schools, the world is graduating more capable, qualified women who will move into positions of authority in corporations.
6. The levels of corporate growth will depend on the region. The United States and Europe will lag behind Asia and South America in job growth and profits. Lingering high levels of unemployment and housing situations will hamper expansion.
7. Any remaining companies that had not restored sales incentives will do so next year. Recognizing the competitive disadvantage employers not only restore incentives to previous levels, but will also look for innovative ways to augment these programs with meaningful non-financial incentives keyed to the individuals' social circumstances.
8. The repeal of the Don't-Ask-Don't-Tell law will have far-reaching repercussions. This law, governing gays openly serving in the US military, will open the door to more recognition for domestic partners. More employers will acknowledge these partnerships as civil unions with attendant expenses and benefits.
9. Employers will pay increasing attention to retention. Higher employee turnover and greater difficulty in recruiting will again challenge more employers. By necessity, employers will once again be forced to look at employee retention.
10. The escalating regulatory environment will cause employers to need employment lawyers more than ever. With OFCCP (The US Department of Labor's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs) inspections and other onerous regulations, employers will have no choice but to engage their employment lawyers at higher levels.
"From 'The Herman Trend Alert,' by Joyce Gioia, Strategic Business Futurist. (800) 227-3566 or The Herman Trend Alert is a trademark of The Herman Group of Companies, Inc."

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Minimum Wage Increases in 7 States on 1/1/2011

As of this Saturday 7 states will increase the state minimum wage (the Federal level is $7.25 per hour) based on an automatic increase formula. These states and the increases are:
  • Arizona- $7.25 going to $7.35
  • Colorado- $7.24 going to $7.36, with tipped wages going to $4.34
  • Montana- $7.25 going to $7.35
  • Ohio- $7.30 going to $7.40, with tipped wages going to $3.70
  • Oregon- $8.40 going to $8.50 (Second only to Washington for the highest state minimum wage.)
  • Vermont- $8.06 going to $8.15, with tipped wages going to $4.20
  • Washington- $8.55 going to $8.67.
Each of these states have some consideration for really small companies or for those employee teenagers. You need to check Minimum Wage Laws in the States at the USDOL for particulars.

All of these states require that this information be posted for employees to see. So if you do not already have the appropriate minimum wage posters displayed you need to go to your particular state's department of labor website and download it.

I hope you have been planning for this and have budgeted appropriately. Regardless of what you feel about the merit (or not) of a minimum wage it is the law and you do have to comply. Not paying correctly could result in a complaint being filed against you, and in today's compliance environment the last thing you want is a department of labor poking their noses into your files. So pay up and do it correctly.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Does Anyone Really Care What I Say? Thoughts on Job Changing

On December 20th, William C. Taylor posted a piece on Yahoo Financial entitled Is It Time To Leave Your Job? In the piece he asks several questions that may give you an indication that it is time to pack your bags and head out to another job depending on your answers. These questions include:
  • Does my company stand for something-anything- special?
  • Am I excited to see my colleagues when I show up to work on Monday morning?
  • Do I have a voice at work-- does anyone who matters listen to what I say?
  • Am I learning as fast as the world is changing?
  • Am I making enough money?
The first question implies we all want to work for some "noble" cause such as world peace, curing cancer, etc. Well I am not sure that is necessary. I think rather than asking "does my company do anything special?" you should ask "how does my company do something special?" You don't have to be a "noble" company to make peoples lives easier, more fun, less stressful, more convienent, save them time, save them money, entertain them, etc. Whatever your company does think of it in terms of what "good" it does its customers.

The second one is a great indication of whether you should leave. If you don't like the people you work with then you do need to do something about finding another place. You spend far too much time in that environment to be miserable. But ask yourself "why do I not like these people?" You may discover the fault is yours and not theirs. If you have work habits that make you a less than desirable workmate that will not change if you change environments. So do some introspection before you jump ship.

The third question about having a voice at work also begs another question and that is "Why don't I have a voice at work?" Has your work been substandard? Do you seem uninterested? Do you seem irrelevant? If these are the reasons no one pays attention to your "voice" then work on correcting these items.

Am I learning as fast as the world is changing? At the rate knowledge doubles (every 5 to 8 years) it will be an absolutely impossible task to keep up. A more important question is are you keeping up on your relevant body of knowledge in order to stay relevant in what you do? Do you read? Do you study? As one of my favorite authors, Brian Tracy says "If you read an hour a day, one book per week, you will be an expert in your field in three years. You will be a national authority in five years, and you will be an international authority in seven years. All leaders are readers."

The last question of "Am I making enough money?" perhaps can be replaced by "Am I maximizing my efforts to make as much money as I can in my chosen field?" If the answer is "no" then do something to change that before you change jobs. If the answer is "yes" and you still feel you are not making enough money then you are in the wrong field and more than a job change is needed.

How would you respond to these questions? Have you ever asked them? What did you do?

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Santa's HR Manager

This is the author.
There was an article out the other day that talked about how tough it is being Santa Claus. Well that is nothing. Let me tell you how tough it is to be Santa’s HR manager.

  • You thought you had problems with seasonal hiring? You have no idea how hard it is to find 1000 or more elves to work for 5 months. Particularly these days, with so many of them finding other work in the movies. (See Harry Potter series for example.) 
  • You can only interview so many before you have to take a break from the squeaky voices.
  • Need I say anything about diversity? Next to impossible. Fortunately we have no government contracts so that makes it a bit easier.
  • Always being “short” on help, if you get my drift.
  • Dealing with egos. Not only does he have a red nose, but he has a big head about it. Yes, you know who I am talking about.
  • Making employees understand that we do NOT take weather days.
  • Having to organize the “reindeer games”. I thought I was done with carrying the “watermelon to the picnic.”
  • Breaking up fights. Employees with antlers tend to butt heads occasionally.
  • Keeping Santa away from the Christmas “cheer.”
  • Sexual harassment training, see above.
  • Telecommuting employees…. Elves on the Shelves
  • Deer poop.
  • The constant “HO HO HO”. (See Christmas cheer)

But it is all made worthwhile when the gifts get delivered and joy is brought to boys and girls around the world…..

Then the layoffs start….
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
 And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, 'ere he drove out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!"

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Carnival of HR: The Christmas Edition

I don't know about sugar plums, but there are some "sweet plums of knowledge" in the Carnival of HR today. April Dowling of PseudoHR edited and published this list between working and her bouts of Christmas shopping. I hope she gets my gift to me on time. Actually I jest. My gift was being include in this Carnival. So go take a seat on Santa's lap and read her very creative poem that incorporates all the selected submissions. I will swear it is a great one. (See if you get that joke.)
You can find April here: Carnival of HR- 'Twas The Night Before.

And stay tuned for tomorrow's HR Observation where I tell you about the problems of Santa's HR Manager.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Tuesday Observations

Here are some things I have picked up in my reading yesterday and today:
  • In the private sector you will never find the the word "permanent" attached to a job. Or at least you should not. But in the Federal government they send out job announcements that declare the status of every job, even part-time jobs, as permanent. Nice work if you can get it.
  • The Federal government is trying to make the hiring process more streamlined. Good for them. However, they are still not, for the most part, hiring within the recommended 80 day time frame. Some how I think that 80 day time frame does not compare well with the private sector.
  • Having read alot of material on generational differences I have decided you cannot apply those generalities to individuals. They are too broad. I know hardworking, smart, creative, flexible and productive people in all current generations. In the same vein I know dumb, stale, change-resistant, non-productive, lazy and dishonest people in all generations. So I try to be careful with my generalities.
  • Generalists, regardless of profession, have a better chance of advancement than specialists. Research has shown that generalists, people who do alot of stuff very well, are more likely to be CEOs. Perhaps that works for CHROs as well.
  • Communication skills are important, you get graded on them. And you need to work on improving them all the time. Even President Obama, who was initially lauded for his speeches, has now become the object of parody due to his overuse of the teleprompter and his speech cadance.
  • Even HR people were making big money in the finanical market place. A former HR leader is suing because she did not make her accustomed to compensation of $700,000 after the meltdown, even though she agreed to take less.
  • The job market seems to be improving in HR. I have seen alot more activity, more jobs listed and more people getting jobs than I have seen in the past two years. So if you are still unemployed, chin up, you may see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Well that is a bried set of observations for today. If you are curious about any of these topics leave me a comment and I will give you the reference.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Profanity as a Leadership Tool?

I am not a fan of the show Hell's Kitchen but I happened to catch the final episode because one of the finalists was from Atlanta, where I live. My wife wanted to see what the final show's outcome was which then made my choice either to go to another room or to watch, so I watched. To be honest, I was appalled. Between Gordon Ramsey, the host, and the two finalists the amount of verbage that had to be bleeped made it sound like my TV was going out. The guy that lost was incredibly bad and the woman that won used a fair amount of profanity, even though it seemed out of character for her. It was if she had taken on the persona of Ramsey and used him as the model of success. I hope she does not carry this into her new position as head chef in one of his restaurants. I think it is in poor taste, it may cause her problems in the workplace and I don't think it is an effective way to exhibit leadership.

Let me be clear, I am no stranger to profanity. I have uttered my fair share of "curse" words in the past and will do so in the future. However, I make sure that when I do it is both situation and audience appropriate. Seldom is the workplace the appropriate place and seldom is an employee the proper target.

There are several issues associated with profanity in the workplace. These include:
  • It may get you sued for harassment, depending on the words used. The most common is sexual harassment or racial harassment. There are many cases that have made it to court based upon the use of profanity in the workplace.
  • It may get you fired. Many companies do not see it as appropriate behavior and have prohibitions against it, especially if it opens the company to liability.
  • Heavy use of profanity in the workplace is perceived as workplace bullying. It generally is associated with other acts of intimidation and abuse. Bullying can then be seen as harassment.
  • It lowers employee morale and generally lowers employee productivity. Because most people associate it with "bullying" they will be less inclined to put forth their best efforts.
  • It may cause turnover. I would not work for Gordon Ramsey. I would tell him to go "f**k himself" and leave. (In that case and person the profanity would be appropriate.)
  • It does not set the appropriate model of leadership. Often your language is taken as a sign of your intelligence, education and moral standing.
There are times where it may be appropriate. It does get attention, especially if used by someone who would not normally use it. It is never appropriate in front of customers, clients or upper managment. Swearing comes down the ladder and should never go up. Research has shown that there is somewhat of a double standard when it comes to swearing. Men have an opportunity to get away with it more than women do.

According to Beverly Langford, president of LMA Communications in Atlanta, and the author of The Etiquette Edge: The Unspoken Rules for Business Success (Amazon link) "Although there are situations when profanity might be tolerated or excused, the only safe choice is to forego a curse and express your feelings, whether you are angry or elated, in another way."

Ultimately what comes out of your mouth is a reflection of your character, so choose your language carefully and don't use Gordon Ramsey as your model. It may work for him because it draws ratings (though I don't know why) but I doubt it will work well for you.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Some Days There is Just Nothing...

There are some days that WRITERS BLOCK rears its ugly head. Today is one of those days. So, since you have nothing great to read from me, I suggest you go to my friend Jon Hyman's site and take a look at the compilation of blog posts he has read this week. I am flattered he put me in there. But there is alot of great stuff, most of it centered around compliance, that he has included. So check him out by clicking WIRTW #157 (the naughty or nice edition) Posted by Jon Hyman on Friday, December 17, 2010

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Evil Employers Please Create More Jobs

The dictionary defines "conundrum" as "A paradoxical, insoluble, or difficult problem; a dilemma." And that is what we have in this country at the moment. We have a significant need for job creation. Yet we have governments, both federal and state, that vilify businesses. They create an adversarial situation and seek to punish businesses. I have written several times about this, see US Department of Labor: It's War! And Employers Are The Enemy , but it continues. And more people are jumping on the bandwagon. (Click the link for a definition of the term).

Fellow blogger/Twitterer, Stephanie R. Thomas @ProactiveStats posted a tweet about a new piece of legislation passed in the State of New York. The unbelievable title of the legislation is the Wage Theft Prevention Act! It is bad enough that the USDOL Sectretary of Labor, Hilda Solis, calls all employers thieves in a speech, but then to have a state pass legislation that essentially labels all employers as thieves. Here is a list of the kinds of activities I am talking about:
  • Secretary of Labor claims to be "the new sheriff in town" and will stop employer thievery
  • USDOL hires over 250 new wage & hour investigators and 200+ OSHA investigators and announces they will be pursuing criminal penalities rather than civil solutions
  • The USDOL partners with the American Bar Association to team complaining workers with attorneys willing to sue employers and supplying them with all the paperwork and data needed.
  • The DOL announces they will enforce regulation through embarrassment and intimidation.
  • The White House announcing a coordinated effort between the DOL, OFCCP, EEOC and the IRS to punish "wrong doing" by an employer by having them investigated by all the agencies, regardless of what they may have been accused of .
  • Increasingly onerous legislation being passed that make day to day life in a business difficult.
  • The NLRB overturning 100s of previously decided cases in order to make the environment friendlier for union activity.
  • Executive Orders are issued requiring ALL work places doing business with the Federal government to allow union organization or have their contracts with the government pulled.
  • And of course taxes and healthcare requirements almost don't need to be mentioned. The United States now has the highest corporate tax rate in the world. Talk about driving business away!
  • And now states are passing anti-employer legislation.
Now I don't know about you but I find this discouraging. I have had several clients in the past of days ask why things have turned this way. I tell them that I feel it is driven by two things. First, it drives revenue. And governments are broke and need tax dollars. We hear all the time about the favorite whipping boy of government, the "rich." Well businesses are as equally reviled and seen as the best source of revenue. The second reason, as I see it, is philosophy. The current administration, heavily  steeped in union connections, exhibits many of the same socialistic (even communistic) tendencies that labor leaders have. In these philosophies employers are evil and do nothing but exploit workers and thus must be controlled, even punished. Hence we have the current situation. (Even though many labor leaders and legislators are themselves rich by most peoples standards, and unions would not even exist if businesses did not. After all they are a business that is in the business of making money off of organized workers. If no dues were paid unions would not exist just for the "good" of workers.

Given the current situation it is more difficult to run a business. If I were considering starting a business I might be hesitant to do so. If I had a business I might be hesitant to do any expansion. However, business creation and job growth is what drives the economy, so business men and women step up and work against the odds and they make things happen. And it is that spirit of entrepreneurship that then picks my spirit up. But it certainly would be a lot nicer and easier if the government didn't fight us every step of the way.

For further information on the Wage Theft Prevention Act see Governor Patterson Signs Wage Theft Prevention Act by Nicholas Fusco.