Monday, November 23, 2009

GINA is Here: Complying With "HER" Regulations

Ok, I know that I took some liberties with "Geena" to match "GINA" in sound, but hey, it is Monday morning. GINA, or the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act went into effect on Saturday and as of that date employers must comply with Title II of the act. (Title I is a requirment for insurance companies to comply with the act.) I hope everyone was proactive and downloaded the poster to put up showing that you are complying with the new law.

The law firm, SeyfarthShaw, in one of their alerts listed the things that employers must do to be able to work within the confines of the law. Their advice includes:
  • Conducting self audits, adjusting policies and conducting training.
  • omitting genetic information from post-offer, pre-employment health history examinations and/or questionnaires;
  • updating policies to prohibit discrimination based on genetic information;
  • adding claims of “genetic discrimination” to waivers and releases where appropriate;
  • and segregating lawfully-acquired genetic information from personnel files.
For those of you that would like to read SeyfarthShaw's entire announcment can click on here. For additional information you may also read my August 4th post and my May 24, 2008 post where I give more information about complying with GINA, including the Child Labor provisions.

On a different note, as a holiday bonus the Carnival of HR, hosted by Mike VanDervort at The Human Race Horses blog  is asking all contributors to designate a charity to which they would like readers to donate at this time of year. There are so many that would could be on my list to ask you to make a donation to, but I have a personal connection that compels me to designate the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Clicking on the MS Society link will take you to the donation page.

Friday, November 20, 2009

End of the Week Observations and Other Stuff

Here are some end of the week observations, recommendations and other stuff.
  1. I hung out with some marketing and PR types at a book signing last night. I learned some interesting tidbits. One is the value of video in blogs. It probably will apply to employee messages as well. We have become a video culture. So use them to get your message across. 2010 is the year of the video. The Flip is a great little device. You can get 2 hours of HiDef video and then stick it into a USB port and download.
  2. HR should hang out with Marketing and PR types. You might learning something.
  3. I saw the LiveScribe pen demonstrated the other night. It is really cool. For you note takers that would like to have both paper, audio and electronic copies of your notes check it out. About $250  will get you all that.
  4. Technology is like magic. Slingbox allows you to watch your tv at home from your computer. Jeez
  5. Speaking of technology. A recommended book is Geeks, Geezers and Googlization, How to Manage the Unprecedented Convergence of the Wired, the Tired, and Technology in the Workplace. It is on my list to get.
  6. If you are doing presentations (and all HR people should) this book was recommended Brain Rules, 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home and School. Also on my list to get.
For all of my readers that will be taking next week off for the U.S. holiday Thanksgiving have a great vacation and holiday. Drive safely and try not to eat too much. For the rest of you, I will be posting next week so watch for me.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

HR Carnival: The HREvolution Edition

I posted about the "unconference" that occurred in Louisville a couple of weeks ago. The conference was on changing the world of HR as we know it today. Well it has created ALOT of discussion, so much so that this week's edition of the HR Carnival focuses on it. So go to the HR Ringleader's blog and read the chatter. Very interesting stuff.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Putting the "SOCIAL" into Social Media

There is a great deal of material on social media being produced on a daily basis. There are millions of people tweeting, linking, posting, "booking" each day. Some are personal connections, some are business oriented. Generally in the personal connections there has at sometime in the past been some "in-person" connection, albeit some may be in the distant past, as in connecting with a high school classmate from 30 some odd years ago. Even some of your business connections through LinkedIn may have had an in-person connection at some point. But we get caught up in the connection mania and start adding people like crazy and as a result we often forget the SOCIAL part of social media. I am a light-wight tweeter following just over 670 people and an even lighter-weight LinkedIn user with about 180 connections. But even with these numbers the social aspects can get lost.

I had a fellow tweeter ask me if I would be interested in a phone conversation, as she had noticed I was in the Atlanta, Georgia area as was she. I suggested rather than a phone call I would like to meet in person. So we fit it into our schedules and I had the good fortune to meet Beth A. Miller of Executive Velocity (ExecVelocity on Twitter). Not only was it a very pleasant hour, but it now has the potential for being a relationship that may help both of us in our businesses.

Given that encounter I wanted to encourage people to take their social media relationships and put the in-person social contact in there as well. Here are some tips for doing this.
  1. Many people are skittish about meeting in person. Learn from the professional networkers. Harvey Mackay is the "old dog" of networking (no offense to Harvey, he is actually a personal role model for me). He has written numerous books including Swim With the Sharks Withour Being Eaten Alive . He gives excellent advice on establishing, maintaining and effectively using your network. The new generation of super networker is Keith Ferrazzi. He is incredible. He has written two book, Never Eat Alone and Who's Got Your Back.
  2. A second good way to meet face-to-face is to go to a Tweet-Up or a Blogger event. Meet those people you have been exchanging information with or have been following or will want to follow. Generally these are held in a pleasant social environment (I go to one held at Pizzaria Venti) and people get relaxed and put a person to the tweet.
  3. Meet other people at conferences. I have not had the luck to go to one yet, but I read that they are getting bigger and bigger. Recent ones have been held in NYC and Louisville. But you can also go to other association meetings and get to know the bloggers, tweeters and "facers" in the group.
  4. Lastly, if there is someone you truly want to meet then send a message, make a call and suggest a meeting. Takes some guts (what if they don't find you as interesting?) but it won't happen if you don't do it. Take the leap.
Well those are some of my suggestions. I hope readers who are better at this will suggest some other ways to put the SOCIAL into social media. Let's hear from you.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Unions and Government: A Troublesome Combination

I received a newsletter this morning from The Heritage Foundation. It was entitled Morning Bell: Big Labor Is Bankrupting Our Country.  It was an eye opener in some areas. (In the spirit of openess, The Heritage Foundation is a conservative think tank. So if you want to discount this information it is up to you. But I would pay attention to the facts.) Here are some of the facts they listed in the newsletter (and some comments by me):
  1. Last month when the White House released its visitor log for the first six months of the Obama presidency, one name appeared far more often than any other: Service Employee International Union (SEIU) President Andrew Stern. (Wow, the MOST frequent visitor? Expecting something or trying to organize the White House housekeeping staff?)
  2. The SEIU spent $60.7 million to elect Barack Obama president. (Stern has made it clear that he expects reciprocity. I don't think he is getting to use the Lincoln bedroom in exchange for this $60 million.)
  3. Quoting a Hertiage scholar “The overall unionization rate between January and September 2009 stood at 12.4%, unchanged from last year. However, this difference masks a large difference between unions in the private and public sectors. Union membership has fallen to 7.3% of private sector workers ..... But it is a completely different story in the public sector: 37.6% of government employees belong to unions, up almost a percentage point since last year. Those 7.9 million unionized government employees are 51% of all union members nationwide.” (So the governments are such poor employers that almost 38% of workers feel they need a union to protect them. Yet they tell us in the private sector how to run our businesses. Yet only 7.3% of private sector workers have sought union protection. Hey lawmakers, "wake up and smell the coffee!"
The newsletter goes on to explain why unions target governments. Easier campaigns, more dues making it easier to influence or pressure politicians who need to get elected or re-elected. I will let you read this. The conclusion they reach is that all of this makes government more expensive and may push us to the brink of bankruptcy as a government. Is this a valid conclusion? Well took a look at how unions have helped the car industry, the steel industry, and the airline industry (anyone remember Eastern). You can draw your own conclusions.

With the changes in the NLRB, proposed legislation (EFCA and RESPECT) and executive changes removing union financing transparency unions stand a chance of regaining their "power" through political pressure and intimidation. The question is "At what cost?" to us as taxpayers, employers, employees and consumers. A truly troublesome combination.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

HR Carnival: Some of the Best in HR Reading

Crapola (click on the link for a def.)... I missed it again! I just need to get better organized. Ben Eubanks was the host this time around over at Upstart HR. He published 25 Pieces of HR Awesomeness. That is this months HR Carnival, which now has its own logo. --------->

I promise to have a post in the next one which will appear just after Thanksgiving. In the meantime, as a carny might say... " right here, right here. Get yer' HR edumacation right here. 25 great posts for only a dollar. In fact they are free!"

Monday, November 09, 2009

Revolution: Breaking Down the Wall of Old HR?

This past weekend an event occurred that probably most HR people did not know about. It was the HRevolution conference that was held in Louisville. I was unhappy I did not have a chance to attend. I wish I had. Some of the best of today's "young" HR thought leaders were there. These are people who carry sharp sticks and like to poke the "beast" of current HR thought. They ask the hard questions we should all be formulating answers for. Lance Haun (thelance on Twitter) talks about this at his blog Rehaul in his post "You say you want a revolution?" Although it has passed you can find out more about HRevolution by visiting here.

I love the name, it has so much meaning for me. First CHANGE. I think change is good and it is time to make the "beast" move. I like the word evolution in it. It also means CHANGE. But unlike most peoples conception of evolution as slow change there is the theory of PUNCTUATED EVOLUTION or Punctuated equilibrium. This theory means that not all change occurs gradually, that some evolutionary changes can occur rapidly. (That is the short version.) I think we can make HR change rapidly.

I come back to the word revolution in meaning turning. I think we need to keep this movement going. I appeal to Trish McFarlane, Ben Eubanks,  Crystal Peterson, Steve Boese, Laurie Ruettiman, Jessica Lee, Kris Dunn and other "beast stickers" to keep the momentum going. I think it may be fortunate happenstance that this occurred the weekend just before the 20th anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall. In 1987 Ronald Reagan, in a speech at the Berlin Wall, said "General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization: Come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"

Let me pharaphrase that famous speech. "If you seek prosperity for employer and employee alike, if you seek great people, great systems, effective teams, employee dignity then come here to this gate. Open this gate. Tear down this outdated and stale way of doing things." Make this past weekend a clarion call for action. Take up your hammers and chisels and begin chipping away at old ideas, stale ways of doing things. Question the "tried and true" and get away from "that is the way we have always done it." Make the old guard of HR take notice.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

HR Data and Decisions: Why HR Metrics May Fail

Marketing guru and all around smart guy, Seth Godin, wrote a blog post entitled When Data and Decisions Collide that made me write this post. He gives several examples of situations where data did not drive decisions, despite overwhelming evidence. As an example "The data shows that famous colleges underperform many cheaper, friendlier, smaller colleges. How much is your neighbor's envy worth?" The examples indicate that we make decisions as much based on emotions as we do data, even not more so.

Not really an earthshaking conclusion on my part, but it got me to thinking how often do we apply that type of decision-making to human resources issues, even the strategic ones? So will this make it slower for us to adopt some HR metrics? Will we be more or less likely to change a course of action based on data given that HR can be so driven by emotional decisions? Or are we doomed to emotion because we are "the people" people?

Provide me with some answers please?

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Strategist or Steward?

I had the opportunity to hear Dr. Robin Lissak of Deloitte Consulting present on Influencing Top Leaders. I even Tweeted on the presentation and got some good response to those tweets. So I thought a post was in order.

Lissak talked about the disconnect between CEOs and CHROs (Chief HR Officer) in what was seen as important for an orgainzation. One disconnect was that only 50% or so of organizations even have a CHRO. They all have a CEO. Second disconnect was that only 14% of the CHROs saw themselves as being strategic while 95% of CEOs want them to be. We always talk about that "seat at the table" and here we have an opportunity to get it and we are not. WHY ARE WE SO BEHIND THE CURVE???

Lissak made the point that HR mandates for the CHRO must involve revenue growth, talent strategies and operational excellence. CEOs see these as people issues. People issues are strategic. Most HR departments are still working on operational excellence. But HR issues are administrative. The message is that CEOs don't give a crap about HR issues. As Ulrich say in his books Human Resources Champions and HR Competencies the administrative stuff is a given. We have to do that well. However, a CEO does not care when we do it well. They only care when we do it poorly.

Dr. Lissak makes the point that people issues require a strategist while HR issues require a steward. And both of these are listed by Ulrich as HR competencies. However, my question is this, can you find those skill sets in the same person? Can the CHRO be both a strategist and a steward? The strategist needs to know the business of the business. They need to understand the customers and the value chain of the business. As Ulrich says they need to be the strategic architect, talent manager and the business ally. But the HR operations side needs someone who is that operational executor. Someone who pays attention to the detail of compliance, paperwork, proper reporting and the day-to-day employee relations. So it this the steward?

I personally believe that those are two different sets of skills. One of the things Lissak mentioned is the short tenure for many CHROs because they fail to connect with the CEO. Perhaps that is because two many CHROs have the STEWARD skill set and fail on the STRATEGIST end. Or perhaps they are too much STRATEGIST and miss the details needed on the STEWARD side and the company gets in trouble.

A solution? Hire a strategist as the CHRO, but make very sure they have a good steward as number 2!

What do you think? Tell me where I have miss read this dilemma and offer another solution.