Thursday, January 29, 2009

Do Women Make Better Recruiters and HR Managers?

I watch little TV beyond the DIY channel. However, I have become a fan of the new show Lie To Me. It is all about body language, which has been an interest of mine since I studied monkeys in a previous life. Monkeys major form of communication is body language. I picked up The Definitive Book of Body Language by Allan and Barbara Pease last night and have already started reading it. It is an interesting read and I am looking forward to finishing it.

Early on in the book I came across this statement. "Most women have the brain organization to outcommunicate any man on the planet. Magnetic Resonance Imaging brain scans (MRI) cleary show wy women have a far greater capacity for communicating with and evaluating people than men do. Women have between foruteen and sixteen areas of the brain to evalutate others' behavior versus a man's four to six areas."

My first question upon reading this was "Does this mean that women make better recruiters?" Are they are more "tuned in" in the interview? For that matter, does that explain why there are so many women in HR, the field where people "reading" skills are supposed to be at a premium?

Perhaps so, and I would like you views on this matter. The good news is, for us males in HR and recruiting, reading body language can be learned. So even though we have a brain handicap at the outset we males can catch up some, though supposedly will never be as good.

As a last note, one thing else mentioned so far in the book, is that women lie better than men do! Anyone shocked by that?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Employee Engagement and the Recession

I have been pretty sick the last couple of days and have not felt the "creative bug" to write a new post. So I thought I would direct you to a very good one. Ann Bares, of Compensation Force, talks about the recession driven opportunity to enhance employee engagement in Recession-Driven Sense of Shared Destiny - Are We Missing An Opportunity?

Check it out.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

More on the Employee Free Choice Act

I had the opportunity to attend a seminar/briefing conducted by two notable attorneys from two well known law firms in the Atlanta area, Bennet Alsher of Ford & Harrison LLP and Daniel Shea of Nelson Mullins Riley and Scarborough LLP. They discussed alot of the impending legislation that will be introduced by the Congressional Democrats, supported by the Obama administration. They, Dan Shea in particular, discussed the EFCA, starting with a little history.

But first, let me remind you of the provision of EFCA. First, there is card check recognition, which would allow unions to declare a victory in organizing employees simply by getting 50% plus 1 signatures. It would eliminate the use of secret ballot elections. Secondly, there is First Contract Arbitration. This would require the government to impose terms of agreement if no agreement is made within 180 days. This binding agreement would be in force for 2 years. Thirdly, there would be increased penalities for Unfair Labor Practices to the tune of $20,000 per violation and the potential for treble damages. Oh, by the way, these penalties are for managment only! Now onto the information.

Dan Shea pointed out that originally, the Wagner Act had card check as the prime method of unionization written in the original law. The abuses by the unions, such as coercion, intimidation and threats of physical violence, forced lawmakers in 1947, in the Taft-Hartley Act, to change the process to secret ballot election. Dan also pointed out that Canada, which has a workforce that is 30% union (down from 40%) originally had card check solely as the method of union organization. The abuse of this method was so bad that the two largest provinces changed to secret ballot election. I confirmed this by some investigation and found this bit of research from a researcher named Sarah Johnson. "In the last 25 years, a major change has occurred in the way unions are recognised in Canada. In 1976, every jurisdiction in Canada used card check. Today, more than 50% of the Canadian labour force is covered by mandatory vote legislation and union recognition procedures continue to be a matter of policy concern and debate ..."

In case you think it is only business leaders and Republicans who find the use of secret ballot elections preferable here are quotes from some primary Democrat leaders. From The Union News we have "The leading House sponsor of card check is Rep. George Miller, who also served as campaign manager of Mr. Waxman's race against Mr. Dingell, settled by secret ballot. What's more, along with 10 House Democrats, Mr. Miller wrote a 2001 letter to Mexican government officials encouraging the "use of secret ballots in all union recognition elections." The letter states: "We feel that the secret ballot is absolutely necessary in order to ensure that workers are not intimidated into voting for a union they might not otherwise choose." In the inner workings of Congress representatives recognize the value of a secret ballot as evidenced by this quote about a vote to replace a key member of a committee. "Even Rep. Louise Slaughter, chairwoman of the House Rules Committee, told Congressional Quarterly she was relieved the vote would be a private one: "It's a secret ballot. . . . Thank the Lord." So there is just a bit of hypocrisy.

Dan and Bennet both thought that there may be some manauvering to soften the blow of EFCA, but they both believe that the bigger issue of EFCA is the First Contract Arbitration. Most first contracts are not usually negotiated in less than six months. The 180 day requirement is entirely unreasonable. And then to have the government impose your terms is disasterous. To give you an idea, in Canada, this method ended up with a WalMart Auto shop being forced to give employees a 32% increase in wages, despite a very competitive market that did not allow a comparable price increase. The result? WalMart closed the center the next day and all the newly unionized employees were out of work.

Another tidbit, the 50% +1 on card check is for the appropriate bargaining units, which you may not even know what that definition is until you are presented "your" union by the NLRB.

Lastly, there will be ABSOLUTELY NO SANCTIONS against unfair labor practices engaged in by the unions.

This law is the unions NUMBER 1 PRIORITY and they have alot of support. The NLRB will be heavily union biased as is the new Secretary of Labor (after all her father was a Teamster president.) So be aware, be educated and be active. Let your Congressional representatives know this is bad law. Here are a couple of educational resources. From UnionFacts. com info on intimidation. Lots of info from The Union News.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Carnival of HR January Edition

Michael Moore, of Pennsylvania Labor and Employment Blog, has hosted the most recent edition of The Carnival of HR. Click on it to be taken to a stupendous, remarkable and educational set of HR blogs to help get you through these troubled times and weather the storm of difficulty we find ourselves in today. No, really, despite the hyperbole (which is rampant these days) these really are very good blog posts with a lot of great information. Find out for you self by clicking HERE.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Does Recession Equal Performance?

An article in the Career section of the WallStreetJournal Online, entitled It Can Be Done: Landing a Raise in the Recession, talks about what is needed for someone to get an increase in recessionary times. It is going to take understanding your company's position, understanding your accomplishments, being able to articulate those accomplishments, and most of all it is going to take being a top performer. Take a look at the article for their suggestions on how to handle the situation.

But it got me to thinking. Is this deep recession going to force companies to throw off "entitlement" cultures? Are the days of "everyone gets a raise just for still being here" finally going to be done? Will merit pay actually become based on merit? Perhaps. Companies do want to keep top-performers and top-performers are always in demand. It is much cheaper to reward a top-performer than it is to go hire a replacement for one that left.

So here are a couple thoughts I to which I would like your reaction.

From the individual employee perspective:
  1. Do you know what it takes to be a top-performer in your organization? If you cannot articulate this you may not be one.

  2. Can you show, on paper or spreadsheet, your accomplishments? Have they really contributed to the success of the organization? Much more than average? If no, then you probably aren't a top-performer.

From the Company perspective:

  1. Do you know what it takes to define top performance? If no, then you are probably not a top-tier company.

  2. Do you know who your top performers are? If not, you are likely to lose them.

  3. If you can identify them, are you prepared to reward them in order to keep them? If not, then you are likely to lose them.

  4. Do you understand the cost associated with losing a top performer? You should.

Now once the recession ends we may return to an "entitlement" mindset, especially if as a result of the EFCA, we have a greater level of unionism. But I hope not. I hope we truly learn the lesson of performance and merit that are being thrust on us by this recession.

What do you think?

Monday, January 19, 2009

Tidbits for the Middle of January

Listening to the radio this morning I picked up several tidbits of information for the day.

First, according to SHRM (yes they made the radio news) 5% of companies are taking tomorrow's inauguration day as a holiday. That is more than the number of companies that gave off election day.

Second, according to radio show host Clark Howard, over 51% of workers dread getting up and going to their job. They hate their work. His advice, quit and find something you look forward to rising to each morning. From an HR perspective look at your folks and realize half of them don't want to be there. What are you going to do about it?

Third, according to "experts" today is the most depressing day of the year and may be the most depressing day of the the decade. Reasons:

  • Winter weather (well only in the northern hemisphere)

  • Christmas credit woes

  • Blown New Year's resolutions

  • Job fears

  • Mounting debt

  • The economic crisis

Well this is not going to apply to everyone, so this is hyperbole, but it makes good news. It is sort of like your horoscope. If it applies it is amazing, if it doesn't you ignore it. Just realize that the 51% of your employees that hate being at work may feel this way.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Lessons for HR in the Geithner Confirmation Hearings

How many of you have paid attention to the lessons for HR in the Timothy Geithner confirmation hearings? Oops, I can hear you now "Who the heck is Timothy Geithner?" (A gold star to any who knows before they read the next sentence.) Timothy Geithner is Barak Obama's nominee to head the Treasury Department for the Obama administration. He has made headlines because he has made what his supporters call "honest mistakes." These "honest mistakes" are causing him and others some heartburn and everyone in HR should take a note because these are mistakes that would cause you some heartburn too.
What were his mistakes? He failed to pay self-employment taxes for period of time in which he was an independent contractor. Taxes to the tune of $34,000 plus. This HR lesson is to make sure you and anyone you have as a contractor understand the importance of properly paying taxes. If someone doesn't and they get hit with a big tax bill they may try to foist that reponsibility off on you the employer. If they can show that they were improperly classified as an IC then guess who gets to pay the bill, plus penalities? Here is a link to the IRS Independent Contractor Rules.
The second "honest mistake" he made was allowing an immigrant to work for him as a housekeeper without having the proper, up-to-date work permits. Geithner never completed and I-9, just wrote the document numbers down in a calendar and did not pay attention to the expiration dates. His housekeeper worked beyond the expiration date of her visa. So the lesson in this is to make sure you are aware of all the expiration dates of the visas of people you have working for you on a visa. It is simple to do, just put it in a calendar or a spreadsheet, if you don't have a HRIS that will track it.
Just wanted to show you that there are day-t0-day HR lessons for you in the news. Kris Dunn of The HR Capitalist often pulls his from the sports world. So read, pay attention, and go beyond just the words on the paper/screen.
BTW, here is a link to an article on Geithner if you are interested in reading more.
Now fess up! Who really knew who he was?
The photo credit is the Associated Press.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Senate Considers Pay Legislation That House Passed

The Paycheck Fairness Act and the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, that were passed in the House of Representatives last week, are now being considered by the Senate. SHRM opposes these bills, which while well meaning are flawed in construction. Here is why SHRM opposes them.

SHRM opposes the following provisions of the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act:

Fundamentally changes statute of limitations—By making the time clock start over upon the issuance of each successive paycheck or retirement benefit, the Ledbetter bill would allow individuals to bring discrimination claims years or even decades after an alleged act of discrimination occurred. Employers would be liable for previous management decisions for which there may be no available witnesses or records.

Expands plaintiff field—The Ledbetter bill would allow not just an employee who was discriminated against, but other individuals who were “affected” by an act of pay discrimination to file claims. The legislation may allow family members, including spouses and children, and potentially others to become plaintiffs in suits over an employee’s pay—even after the employee was deceased.
SHRM opposes the following provisions of the Paycheck Fairness Act:

Ø Promotes class action lawsuits against employers—The Paycheck Fairness Act would require employees to “opt-out” of a gender discrimination class action, rather than the current law requirement that employees must give their written consent to join a class action. By automatically including all employees as part of a class, the bill would dramatically increase the number of plaintiffs in class actions.

Ø Exposes employers to unlimited damages—The Paycheck bill would create unlimited punitive damage awards for which employers would be liable, in addition to current liability for back pay. The potential for such penalties would likely compel employers to settle more wage discrimination claims, even in cases where no discrimination occurred.

Ø Restricts legitimate pay practices—The Paycheck bill would make it significantly more difficult for an HR professional to use legitimate factors, such as education, training, or experience, as a component of an organization’s pay system. Moreover, the legislation may altogether prohibit an employer’s use of local market rates and prior salary history in setting compensation.

So I hope this informs you as well. Inform your senators if you are so inclined. That is what SHRM is calling for in their letter campaign. I happen to know my two senators will be opposed, but yours may not. And if you don't know if yours will be then shame on you. And if you do not know who your senators are then hand in your voter registration card you don't deserve it. Also, don't call yourself an HR PRO, a PRO would know.

Friday, January 09, 2009

A Comparable Worth Discussion

Ann Bares, of Compensation Force, responded to a request from other HR pros and put on her blog a definition and discussion of the issue of comparable worth as presented in the current pay equity legislation. Take a look.

BTW, for all of you PHRs and SPHRs that will need to recertify this will probably be a future test question. So you may as well learn it now.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

More On Paycheck Fairness: Still Beating 'Cause the Horse Isn't Dead

Here are two great links for people who are far more compentent to talk about the paycheck fairness legislation than am I. The first link is to Ann Bares, author of Compensation Force, who talks about Pay Legislation Leaps to Top of House Agenda: Interview with WorldatWork's Cara Welch. Ann Bares is a MUST read.

The second link is to Michael Moore's Pennsylvania Labor and Employment Blog where he writes about Record Retention Nightmare Created by Ledbetter Fair Pay Act . If you are a paper shuffler you will love this law. If not... whoa... what a potential nightmare! How about NEVER getting rid of ANY employee information? Eternal record retention.... do you have enough file cabinets?

So check out these two invaluable blog posts. Be informed.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

HR Is Caught in a Whirlwind of Political Wrangling

The Democrat controlled 111th House of Representatives flexed it's muscles today. Nancy Pelosi et. al. changed the rules on how bills are dealt with in the House. As stated in this Washington Post article House rule changes squander good will "The spirit of bipartisan cooperation didn't survive the first day of the 111th Congress as House Democrats pushed through a package of rule changes Tuesday that the furious Republican minority said trampled their traditional rights to affect legislation." Well that is just politics you say, why should it matter to human resources? That reason is this change:"The most contentious rule change places new restrictions on motions to "recommit" a bill for new amendments to the committee that approved it. In practice, that motion often meant a lengthy or even permanent delay in passing the measure. Motions to recommit would still be possible, but the new rules allow the full House to reconsider the bill almost instantaneously." Ok, so what, how does that affect HR?

It affects HR in that it makes it almost impossible for Republican Representatives to have legislation they think is bad for the country reconsidered. And for many this includes the two pieces of legislation that are being acted on RIGHT NOW, AS IN JANUARY 7TH. These are the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and the Paycheck Fairness Act. Both of these may be noble in thought but are bad in execution. SHRM, The U.S. Chamber of Congress and other business associations are all lined up in opposition to these bills.

But this opposition, and the letter writing campaign SHRM called for may come too late. These bills are being pushed through the House as I write this and with the rules changes House opponents may have no opportunity to stop or have have the bills reconsidered. New Congressional Representatives are being asked to vote on something they have had no time to get educated on. (Of course, I believe most Representatives don't have a clue about how businesses operate anyway. Most have never had to make a payroll.)

The Ledbetter Fair Pay Act would effectively eliminate the uniform statue of limitations on pay discrimination claims and restart the time clock for filing such a charge with the EEOC upon the receipt of each successive paycheck. The bill would also re-start the time clock when a retiree receives an annuity check from an employer, and would thus keep employers liable to a discrimination claim potentially decades after an alleged act of misconduct. The legislation would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Rehabilitation Act.

The Paycheck Fairness Act would limit an employer’s ability to justify paying different salaries to workers based in different locations with different costs of living. Second, the bill would lift the caps on compensatory or punitive damages for which employers would be liable, in addition to current liability for back pay. These damage penalties would apply to even unintentional pay disparities.

A third piece of legislation, the Employee Free Choice Act, may also soon be offered on the floor but opinions vary on its immediate chances of success. The other two are considered "low hanging fruit" (after all who is not for fairness?). Here are two articles that offer slightly different points of view on these issues. Workplace legislation coming to a head in Congress from the Kansas City Star and Labor Unions' Top Priority Faces Delay from the Wall Street Journal. Check them out. I would offer to send you to SHRM's website for information too... BUT THEY DON'T HAVE ANY VISIBLE! Yes they sent a letter to the membership but how about posting it for everyone to see?? I am gravely disappointed.

Don't be passive with this legislation. Inform you legislator of your opinion, either pro or con. I wrote about this, here, in reference to the election. The advice offered there still applies.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Job Hunting in the 21st Century

I was going to post about HR and using social media, since Twitter has been big in the news yesterday and today. But in reading Twitter this morning I came across this article, the link to which, was posted by Jim Stroud on Twitter. The article is entitled "7 Secrets to Getting Your Next Job Using Social Media" and points out the various segements of social media that you should be aware of and using. Since this focuses on job hunting pass it on to your friends who are looking or use it yourself if needed. Either way learn the lessons and become "savvy". It is important and will be even more so in the very near future.

Monday, January 05, 2009

E-Verify Just Can't Get Verification

E-Verify, the government program that all government contractors, with $100K or more, must use starting January 15th has been potentially stalled in the courts. According to an article in the Department of Homeland Security has been sued by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and "...the Associated Builders and Contractors, the Society for Human Resources Management, the American Council on International Personnel and the HR Policy Association."

The article quotes Robin Conrad of the Chamber's Litigation Center as saying "The administration can't use an Executive Order to circumvent federal immigration and procurement laws. Federal law explicitly prohibits the secretary of Homeland Security from making E-Verify mandatory or from using it to re-authorize the existing workforce." The Chamber is hoping the suit will declare the new regulation null and void.

If you are a government contractor of at least $100,000 and 120 days and subcontracts of $3,000 stay tuned to this development, but be prepared to use E-Verify if you are not already.