Monday, July 31, 2006

It's Just Another Manic Monday...

Don't you wish it were Sunday?

Back to another full work week (and a probable heat wave in the Northeast)...but we have some articles to lighten the edge:

It's a New York Monday...and we just don't say that because of the new slugger in the Yankees rightfield...but because we have three articles for you from the New York Times:

It ends up that many men who are unemployed are valuing their free time more than going back into the workforce, something employers definitely have to consider when offering jobs to people who have been unemployed for a while: click here

Want to know what that degree you have is worth to your employer? Want to know, as an employer, how much you should value that degree, well NYT has the answer: click here

And, lastly, word that workers at Wal-Mart in China have formed their first trade union. The good news for Wal-Mart is that these unions typically side with management: click here

Friday, July 28, 2006

Everybody's Workin' For The Weekend

Happy Friday!

First on our agenda is a report from the Washington Post about the upcoming House vote on the increase in the minimum wage. This is a huge issue for an election year and it shows in how people are deciding to vote: click here

On that same note, from USA Today, an article saying that Asian nations should considering shortening the work week and raising overtime pay: click here

And also from USA Today, and a reference to our last Astronology, an article about the CEO of Sun Microsystems who seeks competitive advantage through blogging: click here

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Love and Memories

Office Romances can be good and bad. When they’re good, they can make for a very pleasant office environment. But when they go sour, they can lead to lack of productivity, jealousy, uncomfortable situations and a poor work environment.

Here are some articles talking about the issue:

From the Chicago Tribune, an article about when cupid comes to the office says to be very careful of bad situations which can cause feelings of unfairness and jealousy or lead to firing due to 25% of companies having bans against office romances: click here

From the Journal Times in Wisconsin, an article asking “Do you dare?”. Using the Jim and Pam example from “The Office”, this article delves into the world of office romances. A telling stat is that 31% of workers surveyed think that office romances are OK, while 37% think that if they happen, they should be kept secret: click here

From China Daily, which says that in Bejing people are finding their marriage partners by looking in the workplace instead of going out to find the dating scene. The watercooler is the new meetmarket: click here

And lastly, from Reuters, an odd-but-true story from New Zealand about a cross-dressing lawyer who skirts (no pun intended) the dress code: click here

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Unique Ways To Get Ahead

Humpday celebration...

From SHRM, a report that August will continue the expanding of the job market: click here

Some of those workers, such as the ones at RFK Stadium in Washington, DC, are trying to get ahead in the service industry with old-fashioned good manners, according to the Washington Post: click here

And, lasty, a New York Times article about Peggy Fowler, the President and Chief Executive of Portland General Electric, who says, among other things, that she was powered by math: click here

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

As I Walk Away...

Three articles for your Tuesday about people leaving the office:

First from the New York Times' Career Couch which questions, among other things, whether it's all right to call in sick even if you're not sick: click here

Next from the Washington Post which claims that more men are leaving the newsroom as their positions as anchors and reporters are being taken over by women: click here

And lastly, from the New York Times, an article from Chairman and Chief Executive of Citizen's Financial Group, Lawrence K. Fish, about learning by leaving and his experiences leaving the country: click here

Monday, July 24, 2006

Let's Talk About It

Hope everyone had a great three articles about talking at work...

The first is from Randstad (via WorldAtWork) and talks about how loud talkers are among the worst pet peeves in the workplace, followed by cell phones ringing and use of speakerphones in public places...a lot of talking peeves at the office: click here

From SHRM, an article that says that water cooler talk helps co-workers bond...I guess talking about Jack Bauer's latest adventure or the Yankee's play during the weekend helps office unity: click here

And lastly, an article from Delware online which tells workers to hone their communication skills in order to not sound uncooth in the workplace: click here

Friday, July 21, 2006

Benefitting from Benefits

It's Friday!

Four articles for you about health benefits to get you into/through your weekend:

The first is from 1010 Wins in New York and has the Transit Union suing the MTA for unfair health benefits which give fully covered Viagra for men and no pay for contraceptives for women: click here

An article from the Orlando Sentinal about a technician who may be due past OT pay. If you look further down the article, you'll see an update on health benefits: click here

A column in the Washington Post talking about small companies who provide their employees big benefits. If you're a small company, wellness benefits as well as good health care options are still available even though you think these resources may not be available to you: click here

And lastly an article from Forbes about a Judge overturning the so called "Wal-Mart Health Care Law": click here

Thursday, July 20, 2006

I'd Like to Buy the World a Coke

These famous words were from a Coca-Cola revolutionary television commercial (which also spawned a #1 single) which showed men and women from all different culutures singing in harmony and drinking Coke together.

One of the leading advocates of Affirmative Action, the legislation that helped create this as the norm in the workplace, was John G. Feild and he died this past weekend. A leading influence in the civil rights views of president John F. Kennedy, Feild served as the executive director of the President's Commission on Equal Employment Opportunity during the Kennedy administration. His enforcement of these ideals, especially within the government, helped the EEOC become what it is today: click here

In today's world, many ethnic youths looking for jobs in an increasingly tight job market are looking online, according to this Washington Post report: click here

And speaking of online searches (and following up on the Astronology of the week), the Attorney General of Kansas says in the Kansas City Star that his state needs to step up background checks and do better screenings for employees: click here

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

The Rich Get Richer...

Hope everyone got through the storms last night. The Yankees certainly did with Melky leading them to a walk-off homerun. We here at Astron are heading to the afternoon game to root on the Yankees sweep. But while you stay in your office, you can read these two Washington Post articles on the rich getting richer (and we're not talking about Major League Baseball's best-paid bench player ever, Alex Rodriguez)...

First an article about how the well-paid, especially in the D.C. area, benefit the most when the economy is good: click here

And second an article about how 2005 was a banner year for corporate executives who raked in huge compensation deals: click here

Enjoy the articles and let's go Yanks!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Hot In The City, Hot In The City Tonight

A little Billy Idol for your Tuesday as temperatures push the triple digits...

Preparing you for the Astronology release (blogging about blogging...quite unique)...

An audio link (podcast for those of you who are tech savvy)! Resume Lies and the Liars Who Write Them With the Radio Shack CEO in the news for lying on his resume, Susie and Barb think the time is right to address this baffling topic. Why don’t companies do background checks? The office grapevine has no problem discovering the indiscretions of a new hire, so what is wrong with Human Resources making a few phone calls? Many famous examples are discussed, with FEMA’s Michael Brown at the top of the list:

powered by ODEO

And from the Colorado Springs Business Journal (Colorado Springs, CO) from July 14, 2006, this article below from Joan Johnson:

Social technology, blogging, is a networking tool that can provide job seekers with a powerful option in their hunt for employment, but if misused, sites such as and Facebook can ruin a career. Employers can search blogs during background checks and human resources departments can use the information they find as they please -- identifying biases or any other reason not to hire a potential applicant. "I have MySpace, but it is all business," said Julie Kistler, owner of and Six Sigma Marketing. "I don't put anything personal on it.

" Used appropriately though, networking on the Net can be invaluable. Networking often yields better results during job searches than online job banks. According to a study by CareerXroads, 27 percent of external hires were found through employee referrals. Second on the list, at 24.7 percent, was the Internet, which in the survey referred to the use of online job boards and corporate Web sites. "Seventy to 80 percent of jobs are not posted," Kistler said. She said people are constantly being referred to her. One referral was in search of freelancing jobs. Kistler sent the woman's resume to about 40 people and within a day, she had received five responses. This only works, though, if you have competent contacts, Kistler said. According to Nielsen NetRatings, social networking grew 47 percent during the last year. Facebook, a site for college students and recent graduates, contains nearly 5 million profiles. Friendster has more than 27 million profiles, photos and blogs. has more than 78 million members, counting multiple profiles from one source, according to Nielsen Ratings. Each visitor spends, on average, more than two hours browsing the site. Kistler said she is working on a site that is similar to MySpace, but for local business owners. allows users to see other people's contacts but not their contact information, so you have to get a friend to introduce you if you find someone who has similar interests. Plaxo allows people to create a business card and it automatically updates a user's Outlook when someone makes a card. Ryze and LinkedIn are business networking sites that ask for résumé information such as current and past companies, education and areas of interest. This allows a person to find others with similar information, as well as job postings with similar information. In addition to using social networking sites as a way to find potential employees, companies often use the sites to market themselves. One example is Sheraton hotels, which is inviting travelers to share trip photos, tips, commentary and videos at The Greater Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce has a large networking database. Members can choose to be listed in more than 500 categories. With a user name and password, businesses can get a referral report that shows how many people are visiting the Web site, calling the 800 number and stopping by the front desk at the chamber to get information about their businesses. Sara Muirheid, the chamber's vice president of marketing, said the site will be redesigned in September to make it easier to search and link to the directory. Another networking technique that the chamber uses, Muirheid said, is Business After Hours. The social events average about 300 attendees and provide a low-tech approach for businesses to connect with other businesses. Kistler said she still attends face-to-face networking groups, but always asks for an e-mail address instead of a phone number. "I can remember everyone I've met by name and title," she said, "not face. "

Monday, July 17, 2006

Keepin' it cool

The heat wave has set in, but we're keeping it cool with HR news from Astron getting you ready for Astronology tomorrow:

From the Sunday Washington Post, Amy Joyce discusses the problems faced by employees when two bosses butt heads: click here

From Canoe's Lifewise Work, comes an article about always having a Plan B in your professional life, something that HR professionals certainly need to look out for when hiring an employee (asking "what's your ultimate goal?" or "where do you see yourself in 5 years?" can be a very telling sign): click here

On a related note, from HR BLR, retention of employees was the biggest concern among surveyed HR professionals: click here

And from, the Worst Summer Job Contest...see if you can win: click here

Friday, July 14, 2006

Oh it's a hot one

Getting ready for the heat wave?

A bevy of different articles for your Friday (getting you ready for Tuesday's Astronology)...

From the Washington Post today, it seems that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) got more than they asked for. Although they were budgeted the same amount as last year, it was over the request from the Bush administration and brought cheers from EEOC advocates: click here

Lily Garcia poses (also in the Washington Post) this question: "Why can't a salaried person working for a private company get overtime? Is there a way around this?": click here

And last comes from the Shreveport Times comes an article that says that people looking for work in the Shreveport area worry about rising healthcare costs, finding a proper work-life balance, and the vulnerability of their workplace technology to corruption or breakdown. The Society of Human Resource Management's (SHRM) latest workplace forecast listed those three issues among their top 10 trends that concern human resource professionals across the country: click here

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Interesting Labor News

Two interesting pieces of news on a Thursday:

First from Proskauer Rose LLP, an Immigration Alert which says that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) updated the number of H-1B Advanced Degree visas available for Fiscal Year 2007: click here

And from the InhouseBlog, for those out-of-state companies doing business in California, the top 10 things to know about the labor laws (including the lack of the "use it or lose it" policy on vacation time): click here

"Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work." -- Thomas Edison

Happy Almost Friday!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

3 Interesting Ways to Find a Job...

Happy Humpday!

On this Wednesday (the last day of the All-Star break before the Yankees and Red Sox players start disliking each other once again), we have 3 articles about interesting ways to find a job...

Maybe the most interesting of all is from which has an article about an innovative recruiting and development program--candidates are hired via an NFL-style draft--which helps National Oilwell Varco (a Houston-based oil company) build its next generation of leaders: click here

The next is from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) about the study in March which showed that 1 in 4 employees look for a new job while at work (it's not just employees checking their e-mails anymore): click here

Remember those career assessment tests that told you what you were going to do in life? Well they're more important in determining your future career path than you may think according to the Washington Post: click here

By the time you've finished reading this, you're probably over the Wednesday hump!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Look up, look down, all around...

Oh how the power of a headline can influence the way one thinks about an article. In journalism terms it may be thought of as spin, but you can interpret this as you would like...

Mind you, this is all reporting on the same published report:

From the New York Times, "Jobs Date Indicates Economy is Slowing"...OK, well that would suggest that things are bad, right? Not necessarily: click here

From the Washington Post, "U.S. Payrolls Up Slightly; Jobless Rate Still 4.6%"...OK, well that would suggest that the amount of people with jobs is the same, but they're making more money? Not necessarily: click here

From BBC News (sent in by a loyal reader of our blog, Jessica Goldings), "U.S. Jobs Growth Mild As Wages Rise"...OK, so now there are more jobs AND higher wages? Not necessarily: click here

Three factors that should be taken into account here:
  1. The reason these results are viewed as "bad" are because Wall Street economists predicted higher results. This is coupled with the fact that consumer prices (especially gas prices) are rising. This sent the stock market down and raised fears of inflation. In fact, the Fed had predicted that job growth would not be as large as predicted.
  2. Average wages rose to $16.80/hour which added to the best wage growth in 5 years (which, for those math challeneged, is pre-9/11 numbers)
  3. There should be more workers in June due to seasonal workers, students finding employement/internships during school breaks, and recent graduates entering the workforce. This would, in theory, lower wages due to more workers in the workforce, so a rise in wages should be seen as a positive in this light.
Another lesson to not always believe what the headlines tell you...

If you find good articles you would like to submit for use on our blog, please send them to

Monday, July 10, 2006

A Monday In New York

Hope everyone had a great weekend. Last week was a short week, but we're strapping in for the long-haul today with a slew of informative articles. And you'll have plenty of time to read them with the World Cup over (congrats to Italy) and Major League Baseball in its All-Star Break.

All of them come from today's amNY but unfortunately, the website does not have the same articles as the printed version, and so you'll get them from a variety of sources. (If you would like to see them in the print version, click here and go to pages 29 and 30).

From amNY, 1/5 workers admit stealing from their office but that number is much higher. Whether taking tape to wrap holiday presents or taking school supplies for their kids, many workers steal from the place they work--many without really feeling all that bad about it: click here

From the Washington Post, we see that Americans are more satisfied with their jobs now than they were 30 years ago despite working harder and longer hours, greater pressure, and less performance pay among other things: click here

From the Chicago Tribune, an article about people bring their dogs to work. Although it would seem to be a nice idea, wouldn't barking get in the way of that conference call? Wouldn't it be a problem for that business meeting if your dog decided to poop or take a whiz on your shoes? In theory it sounds nice, but it ends up, according to this article, it's much more than theory for some companies: click here

And lastly, an article about people choosing to work nights and weekends to be with their kids more. It's not just a time slot for police, firefighters and medical workers anymore...: click here

I think that's enough to get you through your Monday...see you again tomorrow morning.

Friday, July 07, 2006

It's Friday...and I'm In Love

Figuring an 80's song is a good way to go out on a July 4th-shortened week...

An article previewing our next Astronology focuses on the rise of background checks and pre-screening done by employers from SHRM: click here

An article from early June about the new Presidential directive which requires security clearance (more background checks) on all people working on federal facilities: click here

And, since we missed a day with a holiday, an extra link for this Friday...maybe employees should pre-screen their employers as well and all they need to do for a background check is read these tell-all books according to Reuters: click here

Enjoy and have a great weekend!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

What drives college grads' job choice?

Workers of the Office, Unite

Hope you had a good July 4th. We're back after a day off with three articles...

From the SHRM Conference, Rebecca R. Hastings writes about Jonathan A. Segal's presentation about the Yellow Zones of Sexual Harassment: click here. Included in this article are some acts that are not illegal but inappropriate behaviors that HR Managers may want to include in their Sexual Harassment Policy and the 6 R's of avoiding Sexual Harassment:

    • Refrain from inappropriate behavior. This includes all types of harassment and is broader than just illegal behavior.

    • Report all complaints to human resources even if the employee requests that nothing be done. He suggested that managers give employees three choices: you can go, I can go or we can go.

    • Respond proactively to inappropriate behavior, such as comments or jokes, even in the absence of a complaint. Lead by example.

    • Remedy inappropriate behavior with counseling, discipline and/or termination.

    • Refrain from unlawful retaliation against complainants and witnesses.

The bottom line for Segal, which he described as a “sixth R,” is respect.

But if Sexual Harassment does occur, the New York Times says that an office coup is not an advisable way to handle it (click here) and SHRM reports that most workers say that would not even report the misconduct: click here

Monday, July 03, 2006

Somebody's Got a Case of the Mondays

On this holiday-but-not-really-a-holiday Monday, Astron Solutions is still hard at work to bring you the biggest and best HR news out there. Hope everyone had a fun weekend and those who are still on their weekend, we are jealous.

According to the Houston Chronicle, today is going to be a very lonely work day (an "orphan" workday as they call it): click here

And from the Washington Post's Sunday "Life At Work" section, an article by Amy Joyce with advice for recent college graduates to accept help from other people in the workplace (and for others in the workplace, including HR people, to offer it): click here

We'll be off tomorrow for July 4th. Happy Independence Day to everyone!

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