Thursday, November 29, 2007

Strike Out

Updating on our previous Astronology and blog posts, the Broadway strike is now over.

And, as written by the New York Times, both sides were just trying to get across the message that they wanted to be taken seriously: click here

And then, there's this:

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

HR Theory In the Blogosphere

This is how the blogosphere and 2.0 work...this video is from, was posted on YouTube and we found it on Scorecard Metrics for HR under the title: "What HR must be (in theory)...enjoy:

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

You're Fired...Wait...You're Hired

Michael Scott: I think the main difference between me and Donald Trump is that I get no pleasure out of saying the words "you're fired." "You're fired." Oh, "you're fired." He just makes people sad. And an office can't function that way. No way. "You're fired." I think if I had a catchphrase it would be "you're hired, and you can work here as long as you want." But that's unrealistic, so.

This quote is from NBC's The Office and seems to be ridiculous until you look at the hiring/firing practices of some firms recently. It seems like too often people get hired/fired willy-nilly in a company based on two factors:

We're doing well....HIRE!
We're doing poorly...FIRE!
We're doing well again...REHIRE!

Well that's how Circuit City is running things according to BloggingStocks as they are asking workers who they had previously fired if they want their jobs back: click here

As the blog correctly points out, it seems sort of crappy to fire someone and then hire them back at the busiest shopping time of the year as a temporary employee. What's even crappier (and not mentioned in the article) is that Circuit City decided to fire many of these employees because they were senior people making more how about going back and working for the people who were working under you before...

Now THAT sounds like a great offer.............NOT (Borat style)

Jim Stroud points out in his blog that a similar thing happened to 7000 employees in China who were told to resign and then reapply for their jobs: click here

On other news, the Boston Globe/ Hiring Hub HR Blog, talks about opening up on the subject of pay (which, from what we have just written, will probably get you fired and then rehired): click here

On that same theme, we have a blog entry from Gabriel on the wide gap between theory and practice in Human Resources Management: click here

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Gobble, Gobble --- HR Style

We start on this Thanksgiving with an article from the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) that says that many workers are not taking off during the holiday season: click here

Next, from HR Business and Legal Reports (HR.BLR), we have a question of whether Thanksgiving should be a time to think about wellness and weight loss: click here

Lastly, from the Boston Globe Hiring Hub HR blog, a Thanksgiving thought that we all need to dream: click here

Happy Thanksgiving from Astron!!!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Astronology Updates

On this Astronology Tuesday (if you're not signed up already for the weekly updates, check out the link on the right to do so), we'll update you here on the blog about what we wrote 2 weeks ago in Astronology...

According to DowJones and CNN, 300 CBS News writers have been authorized to strike against the network joining their brethren of the Writers Guild of America: click here

The Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette reports that SNL and 30 Rock aired on Saturday...but it was a private airing (while reruns ran on TV) to benefit the Writers currently on strike: click here

The New York Times says that the economic cost of the Broadway strike is estimated at $2 million per day: click here

This is going to become especially pressing as families come to visit for the holidays...

Lastly, the Express and Star says that the taxi strike fever has the UK: click here

Monday, November 19, 2007

Not A Normal Monday

This was not a normal Monday with a shortened week to look forward to...but we still have a full docket of articles (one more, even) to start off your week...

First, the Washington Post says that if you don't get a raise after asking, be upfront and ask why: click here

From the Boston Globe, word about firms getting innovative with their wellness programs: click here

This blog quoting a Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) study says to watch out for depression in the workplace: click here

Lastly, from Fast Company, ten signs that your manager may be incompetent: click here

Friday, November 16, 2007

Everybody's Working for the Weekend

Working for the weekend. As the days get shorter and shorter, this will become more and more of a problem at many companies. Like Friday's during the summer, where employees count down the afternoon minutes until they can jump into their cars and head to the beach, we're about to get to that time of year where by 4 PM it's pitch black out and worker's can't wait to get started with their weekends.

So why only have Summer Fridays in the summer? Why not make Winter Fridays? With days short, why not give worker's a chance to escape the dreary Friday nights earlier. Like Summer Fridays, workers look outside the window wanting to know why they aren't out there and enjoying the weekend a little earlier. Production drops. Make it a half day and take those 4 hours and stick them on the end of the other 4 days of the week. If you need to come up with a good excuse for why you are doing this, tell them you need to let employees go early for Shabbat or for Holiday Shopping or because Santa is in town.

On to our links for the day...

If you wanted to do Winter Fridays and just have workers work at home on Friday instead, the Wall Street Journal's CareerJournal has some good news for workers who want to telecommute: click here

From, more than 100 ways to calculate what your salary should be: click here

From the Indianapolis Star, an article about five rewarding HR jobs: click here

And lastly, from the Boston Globe's HR blog, a book review on a new book addressing employee and corporate malaise: click here

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

All Talk, No Game

This article is a little different on the "all talk, no game" attitude we talked about yesterday...this one from the Kansas City Star talks about how companies talk about talent loss--but then don't do much to stop it: click here

From The Globe and Mail in Canada, an interesting article about how employment milestones are both good and bad: click here

Lastly, from Livingston Daily, brought to you by Press & Argus, a story of a human resources professional who "lives to give" (picture on the right): click here

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Salary Negotiations...When You Don't Make a Salary

On a recent episode of NBC's "The Office", Michael Scott took a second job as a telemarketer. In this position he had a salary that was drawn against commission. Now how exactly do you perform salary negotiations in this case? Obviously, your salary will be small to create as little overhead for your boss. And in many of these jobs, your boss will come to you with comments like: "well, I expect you to make $100,000...".

The key is to make it seem like you both are in the same boat. If he feels that you will make $100,000 on commissions, and let's say your commission rate is 1/3 of the fee, then he should expect to make $300,000. If he gives you an advance salary of $60,000 to be drawn against commission, and you fulfill this, he's made $300,000. Let's say you fall 40% short of that $100,000...he still gets back his $60,000...and then another $180,000 on top of it. Even if you fall 60% short of that $100,000 (and, therefore, make $40,000 in commissions), he would still walk away with $100,000 ($120,000 in fees - $20,000 in overhead due to advance not covered by commission). His break-even point (for you math majors is 3x-[$60,000 - x]=0) between making money and the overhead of your advance is if you only make $15,000 in commissions. Now, if that was the case, he would have been off by 85% on his "prediction".

So what do you say? Probably not "put your money where your mouth is" or "put up or shut up"...though you make think it. Link it back to a performance/incentive argument. "Well, I believe I can make $100,000 just as you do. So I think that we should tie our incentives together. I propose an advance of $60,000. Here is the math I've done on the issue (show math from above) and the worst case scenario for you would only occur if I made less than $15,000--I mean, do you really think I'll fall 85% short of both our expectations? I think if we put the advance higher, it will give me more security, but incentive to go the extra distance to get to that $100,000 plateau and it will give you the incentive to help me get there. We are a team and I want to see what's best for this company...let's accomplish that together."

I can't say whether it will work or not...but it's a whole lot better than "put up or shut up"

Monday, November 12, 2007

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire

Figured that headline would catch your attention...

The first article of the day comes from CNN Money--via PR Newswire--via Careerbuilder and shows a study from Careerbuilder in which nearly one-third of workers admitted they called in sick with fake excuses in the last year: click here

The HR Web Cafe talks about workplace violence and HR's role in response to the Crandon shooting: click here

Also about the Crandon shooting, the Small Business Times gives their opinion that maybe we should be brave about stopping violent issues before they even get started: click here

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Adding a Clinic

We're catching up with you here at Astron Solutions' blog...

First, from the Indianapolis Star, an article about a company adding a clinic to their list of benefits: click here

Next, from, a list of a few common human resources personnel issues: click here

Lastly, from LinkedIn, an interesting question about what are the "best business practices" for Human Resources Management: click here

What would you answer for that?

Thursday, November 08, 2007

What Is The End Goal?

To continue the thoughts of yesterday...

High School: So we work our butts off, do every extra-curricular activity from student government to tutoring to Habitat for Humanity to volunteering at a soup kitchen to Model UN (and on, and on), and take every Honors, International Baccalaureate (IB), Advanced Placement (AP) class we can just so we can get into the college of our choice. In AP classes we learn nothing but what will be on that AP Test at the end of the year and don't care to advance much past that for fear that our brains might push out some knowledge that might be on the DBQ section of the test. And in addition to the mindless AP Test--which becomes total memorization--we sit down with a tutor, Kaplan/Princeton Review class, practice tests, and workbooks and try to memorize every vocabulary word under the planet and go through every possible math equation that could be on the dreaded SATs or SAT IIs or ACTs (I will never forget Distance=rate*time after the SATs). We visit schools, go on interviews, read guidebooks, talk to guidance counselors, and the basically prostitute ourselves to colleges in order to get in. We run home from school and wait by the mailbox in anxious anticipation of that letter (big or small? big or small?).


Freshman Year:
When we finally get into college, we have the one year of our lives left to enjoy ourselves. We go to parties, we gain 15 pounds in the cafeteria, we watch people smoke weed and wonder what that is like, we take Intro. to XXXX and to anyone who asks, we're always "Undecided". We're in a new world, many of us away from our parents, and there seems to be nothing, and I mean nothing that will change the euphoria we feel...

Sophomore Year:
We suddenly realize we need to figure things out. We have a GPA to worry about, a major to choose by the mid or end of the year, we need to get into a group fast or risk being an outsider. If we haven't already we need to choose a fraternity/sorority and figure out which extra-curricular activities we're doing this time around. You need to worry about things like internships and figuring out the rest of your life.

Junior Year:
If you thought Junior year of High School was hell, just wait. GREs, GMATs, MCATs, LSATs, upper level classes, girls who want commitment, guys who want to go party. And you thought turning 21 was all fun and games???

Senior Year:
Panic. SOS. Help! What happened to these 4 years? What classes do I need to graduate? What classes do my potential employers want me to have? What am I going to do next? Why didn't I do this while I was in college? Grad school/job world? How am I going to answer family/friends/family friends when they ask me what I'm doing next year? Apply in September to every bank in the world. First round interviews, second round interviews, grad school apps, job apps, saying goodbye to friends, moving, relationship headaches, AHHHHH!!!


And then you hit the job market and more and more, people are coming in unprepared for the world ahead. Although they are going to college more often and getting higher degrees, they don't seem to cut it like their predecessors. You thought freshman years of high school or college was bad, now try being an analyst or an entry-level worker. Good luck. And, there's no more Spring Break or "making your own snowdays" or hitting the snooze and pretending the alarm never went off. You went to class for maybe 12 hours a week. Now you're working 5 times that. For 45 more years or more.........

The Wall Street Journal's Career Journal (click here) brought up an idea in today's paper which I think quite highly of: employers and schools working together. Instead of creating this madness of Junior and Senior year, imagine if an employer had it spelled out for you. Imagine if you got to college and they had it spelled out for you. Imagine if you were applying to college and they gave you every single detail of what you would have to do to get a job for them after?

It would solve the whole process. Because, in the end, all that stuff you are doing in high school is just to get you to the end game of getting a good job. The employers would have their ideal candidates and the students would have learned the right things and be prepared for the job. It wouldn't allow a lot of creativity and trying out new classes, but we already suppress that so much in high school, why not do the same in college? In the end, wouldn't we all be better off if your college and your employer were working together to get you prepared for the next 45 years of your life?

Almost Friday!

Happy Almost Friday...figured we'd celebrate with some cartoons before our real post...

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Things Not to Say At Work

There is always a fine line that one walks in their office relationships. It is a story that has come up in the blog and in Astronology a bunch of times. Revolution health wrote an article about it today (click here) and says to approach relationships with care. Especially with cross-gender relationships, this can be good advice.

But why does it have to be like this? It seems to be a pretty crappy way of going about things. Whether a lack of employee/employer loyalty spawns distance between workers in the office place or vice versa, it seems to be a pretty rough situation to deal with. Competing against peers for bonuses, raises, promotions, and sometimes, to keep you job, it seems like it would be almost a disadvantage to help out people you work with and become congenial.

And this trickle-down effect has seemed to spread to colleges and high schools also. Competing for few spots at the top, cut-throat competition seems to be the norm. People try to be the best in high school so they get into a good college and this means being better than your peers. Consequently, people try to be the best in college to get into a good job/grad school and this leads to the same attitude where working together and helping our your peers is indirectly discouraged.

Working in teams with goals tied into the overall performance of everyone seem to be the best way to go about this (such as at Google or other high-tech companies). If people are forced to work in smaller groups, they may form bonds doing this which always strengthens relationships in the workplace and leads to better productivity. Although more time may be spent at the water cooler or talking about the weekend, at least people will enjoy going to work and being among their co-workers.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Hiring in a Hurry

Now onto our real post for this Astronology Tuesday...

First, we all like our lives to go faster and faster and now, from the Wall Street Journal's Career Journal, an interesting article about speed dating in the interview process: click here

Also from the Career Journal, the question about whether taking an employer's counteroffer hurt ones career: click here

Totally Off Topic

Totally off topic and non-tangential to our other posts...(I'll post again later on this Astronology Tuesday)

A message to the guy on the subway this morning:

Why do you feel the need to play your iPod so loud? Do you miss having a boombox? Do you think the rest of the train/2 cars over needed some entertainment? Do you dislike the thought of being able to hear in 2 years? Do you really think you are that cool? Do you really need to let everyone know how hip you are listening to Bob Sinclair? Would you like me to dance along to your music?

You stink.

And, by the way, that elbow on the way out...that was from me :)

Be back later with more...

Monday, November 05, 2007

Dealing With the Fires in HR

First, from the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) we have an article about how HR is dealing with the fires in California: click here

Also from SHRM, some HR compensation data, tells HR how much they are worth: click here

Lastly, from the New York Times, Monster, and (yes, they all seem to claim credit on this one), a way to figure out if you or your workers are underpaid: click here

Enjoy and get ready for some Astronology tomorrow!

Friday, November 02, 2007


A little Dilbert for your Friday...

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Small Firms Still Need HR

We start out in Canada from the Financial Post which says that small firms need not go without HR top gun: click here

Next, from the Conde Nast Portfolio and Harvard Business Online, an interesting article about becoming the boss: click here

Lastly, from the HR Web Cafe some Human Resources Short Takes: click here

Stat Counter