Monday, March 31, 2008

Judgment Calls

Harvard Business School and the Conde Nast Portfolio Insight Center starts us out on this Monday as we close out March with an article about making difficult judgment calls: click here

The Boston Globe continues with an article about employers using personal references to attempt to limit liability: click here

The Washington Post picks up our strike coverage with the actors (not the writers this time) who are facing some opposition: click here

Friday, March 28, 2008

What I’m Hearing…Going Topless

This morning the radio announcer shared an interesting story out of Silicon Valley. Apparently, 40% of firms in the Silicon Valley area have gone “topless.”

It’s not as risqué as it sounds. The policy bans using mobile communication devices, such as laptops, Blackberries, cell phones, and the like, in meeting rooms.

Kudos to the firms that have instituted such a policy. When individuals use their high tech devices during a meeting, they are distracting to their colleagues, disrespectful of others’ time, and rude to the meeting facilitator. These individuals also send a message, consciously or not, that they and their business are more important than the meeting. Checking voicemails during a meeting break is one thing. Text messaging someone during a meeting is another.

Imagine how much more productive and faster meetings would be if all organizations had a policy of going topless. Hopefully more organizations will move in this direction in the coming months.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

To Tattle?

The Washington Post, in its "How to Deal" section, has an article that says that when asked to tattle, to tell the truth: click here

The Washington Post follows up with an article that says the rising healthcare costs are cutting into workers wages: click here

Lastly, the New York Times has an article about tension building (and it's almost Monday): click here

The Onion

Oh...and because we want you to laugh a little: click here

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Take Me Out to the Ballgame

It's about 30 degrees but many miles away, in Japan, the baseball season started today. We here at Astron are made up of a few loyalties. But the majority of us root for the Yankees. So let's hope that Joe Girardi can be a good manager (had to add in the HR theme) and get the Yankees to the World Series.

So we'll go and start with the New York Times today where we have an article which says that health plans put the onus on the insured: click here

Also from the New York Times, their Home Front section talks about those determined to find a new beginning: click here

Lastly, from the Christian Science Monitor, if you're going to start an office romance, first sign a contract: click here

Monday, March 24, 2008

Getting Back to the Swing of Things

Sorry for being away from a while, but we're back here at the Astron Blog and we're dipping into the Vault for some depressing news on jobs...

First, from the New York Times, word that Silicon Valley is losing middle wage jobs: click here

The Christian Science Monitor says that the best U.S. factory jobs are increasingly in jeopardy: click here

Next, from the Wall Street Journal, an article that says that for some, suburban jobs prove subpar: click here

From USA Today, news that the housing slowdown puts day laborers in limbo: click here

Hopefully your job news is a little more optimistic than this...

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Talking About Addiction

The Wall Street Journal starts us off with an interesting article (actually a reprint from 2006) about talking to your boss about alcohol abuse: click here

This article from the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) talks about the Mental Health Bill and how SHRM sees its merits: click here

Lastly, the Gothamist has an article about the court upholding the firing of a guy who must have been addicted to surfing the web: click here

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

What Not To Say Pt. 2

We had Part 1 back in November, but this HR Daily Advisor article says what you can't ask in an interview...and how to get around that: click here

Next, from Freelance Writing Jobs, on the same token, if you're in an interview, do you correct the interviewer?: click here

From Human Resource Executive Online, an article about talent and transformation: click here

Workplace Violence News, a fellow blogger, says that screening should be taken to the next level: click here

Lastly, from coaching really working? (I think I know where they'll side): click here


Not sure if this video will make you laugh as well...but wow was Jim Kramer wrong...

Laughing About the Writer's Strike

Jon Stewart and the Daily Show's views on the writer's strike and how it affected the Daily Show:

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Of Bad News and B-ball Pools

We start you out this week with an article from CondeNast Portfolio and the Harvard Business School which talks about a better way to deliver bad news to your employees: click here

Next, an issue you will have to deal with this week is talked about in this New York Times article about dipping into the betting pool and the NCAA basketball tournament brackets in your company: click here

I agree with the idea that this helps people meet and brings them together, but it also has to be for a small amount and done in a way that makes people all feel welcome and comfortable. You never know if someone is getting over a gambling issue, has a financial issue, or is feeling left out by not being asked to be in the pool (among other issues) so as a Human Resource Professional, this could be a tough issue to deal with.

Lastly, from the Boston Globe BostonWorks Hiring Hub, advice on the best way to terminate high level employees: click here

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Executive Privilege

Did I say every Tuesday? I meant every week on a day that starts with "T":

Imagine a man works at a place where his work is assessed and the process by which he makes controversial decisions has to be justified or there will be consequences...

Thousands of illegal aliens demonstrate their fierce desire to work in this country by taking the afternoon off.


Wednesday, March 12, 2008


Adding to our Web 2.0 personality here at Astron Solutions, we have our first podcast courtesy of Workforce Management about managing the unpredictability of talent in today's world: click here

From the Business Wire, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) will be surveying presidential candidates on key workforce issues: click here

Also, make sure to check out some other podcasts on Daxle's website of business podcasts...some good stuff there: click here

Lastly, the Baltimore Sun's "On the Job" has an article about sick and vacation days all being in the same bank: click here

And since we decided we needed some representation between New York and DC, we're adding the feed of the Baltimore Sun's career section on the right...

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

What I’m Hearing…Employee Tenure

More and more these days we hear that it’s nearly impossible to expect an employee to stay with an organization for more than 2 years. Succession planning is therefore unrealistic. An employee would not want to stay with one organization a relatively long time. It's just not done.

Last night the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame held their 2008 induction ceremony. Madonna, my favorite recording artist, was among those inducted. Her speech covered a number of topics, including how she got started in the business, fond memories of past accomplishments, musings on what’s to come, and “thank you”s to key players in her career. Imagine my surprise when Madonna announced that she wanted to thank Warner Bros., the record label she’s been signed to for her entire 25 year career. She also thanked her Publicist, with whom she has also been for 25 years. Both milestone achievements she announced with a sense of pride and the “you thought it couldn’t be done” attitude that Madonna exudes so often.

I was pleasantly shocked to hear these comments. From an HR perspective, there perhaps would be few employees more demanding than a mega recording star such as Madonna. However, these three parties have created a loyalty based on met professional needs.

Can we expect to have successful, 25 year loyalty with our employees like Warner Bros. has enjoyed? Probably not. However, if Warner Bros. can met a superstar’s needs successfully, and find positive ROI for their organization in the process, it is possible for us to work with our employees to gain perhaps 5 or 10 years of successful professional relationships.

More links!

Yeah...we got more links for you...

First a blog about the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM): click here

Next, from Boston Globe,, HiringHub, word on finding the best talent: click here

HR Daily Advisor has 7 stupid things that supervisors say and then get sued: click here

From SHRM, word on what that blogger was talking about above: click here

ITtoolbox has some advice on what every IT manager should know about HR: click here

MSNBC says don't wear blinders when dealing with your boss: click here

HR Daily Advisor is back with 3 vital things that supervisors should say: click here

Lastly, the Business Review of Western Michigan (via Michigan Live) has an article about getting and recruiting talent from elsewhere: click here

That should last you for a while ;)

Monday, March 10, 2008

Adding To Our Blog Family

Passed on to me by Jennifer...and now passing onto you (and will be a permanent fixture over on our blogroll):

WorldatWork announced a new blog designed to help HR professionals and business leaders anticipate and address workplace regulations and legislation. The blog, "Public Policy Perceptions," is written by the association's director of public policy, Cara Welch, Esq., and can be found at

What I’m Hearing…Monday Morning Fun

Things have been busy here at Astron, so I’m a bit behind on my leisure reading. This weekend I enjoyed last week’s Time Out New York. One fun feature in their I, New York section particularly caught my eye – The Formula. This issue’s formula is “I’m worried I’m about to get fired! How can I know for sure?” The writers at TONY have determined that your risk of being fired is directly related to how much you IM at work, if you have personal relationships with co-workers, the Dilbert-ness of your boss, and the amount of overtime you put in. The Formula is definitely amusing! If only more things in HR were so quantifiable.

HR Links Galore

We hadn't given you a lot of links in a while...and we at the Astron blog love to update you on what's going on around the here you go:

A job outlook from the Providence Journal: click here

A pro-office romance article from the Gazette: click here

Word from the CEO of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM): click here

From the HRM Guide, word that few firms actually define diversity: click here

From Systematic it Job or Performance: click here

From HR.BLR, a bill to support employee verification: click here

From HR World, word that SHRM has backed this bill: click here

From the New York Times and Inc., word that diversity is unclear at small firms: click here

And lastly for today, from Forbes, word that most retirees will look for other jobs: click here


We'll have more for you me

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Clinton and Obama as Managers

Leave it those Neanderthals over there at Harvard to bring in another aspect into the mudslinging of candidates in this political race between John McCain, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama: click here

(Just kidding on that...I went to Brandeis so we have much love to our brethren down the Charles River...and even more love for their business cases)

Without getting into a real political discussion here, it's amazing that this hasn't been brought up more often. Especially the "Managing People" aspect. President Bush has done an unbelievably inept job at this in his time as President between "Scooter" Libby and his two Attorney Generals (the latter of which got into a lot of hot water over his "Managing People" skills) and the scores of other officials around him (don't forget FEMA and the whole Katrina disaster) who turned out to be incapable of handling their job, incapable of managing others, or just totally inept.

And lets not forget Bush hasn't done a great job at "Managing Money" either, as highlighted by this article in the New York Times: click here

Mr. Robert Hormats [vice chairman of Goldman Sachs International] mentioned Social Security and Medicare, saying that both could have been put “on a more sustainable basis.” And he cited the committee’s own calculations from last fall that showed that the money spent on the war each day is enough to enroll an additional 58,000 children in Head Start for a year, or make a year of college affordable for 160,000 low-income students through Pell Grants, or pay the annual salaries of nearly 11,000 additional border patrol agents or 14,000 more police officers.

We'll let that sink in.........

Ok...and let's also not forget the whole "Managing Expectations" aspect either: click here

So do I agree with the article? Not completely. Leaving McCain out of the article completely but instead referencing him in passing at the end was not exactly the most even-handed way to do it.

And I think that both Senators Clinton and Obama both have "Managing People" problems. Obama's have definitely shown up recently with his association with Tony Rezko and Clinton's are most prevalently with her own husband--which is another story completely (and could go towards keeping those under your watch under wraps and in control).

And while "Manager" may be a broader title, for the Human Resource aspect the money management realm, while important, is not really relevant.

But the idea is a good one--which candidate would make a good Human Resource Manager. Because those thirsty for change, don't want President Bushes running their country and those in charge won't want President Bushes running their companies.

Update: Yeah...about "Hilldog" and her ability to Manage People: click here

What I’m Hearing…Generational Spending Patterns

Ever since I was a small child, I’ve always believed in saving things that might be valuable to me in the future. Plastic bags, office supplies, nostalgic items, and my most favorite thing to save – money. When I was about 6 or 7, I received a toy safe for Christmas, which I loved. I put all my dollar and five dollar bills in there, along with some business plans for the ideal restaurant I wanted to open when I grew up. I still have those plans. Perhaps that will be my second career after I retire.

So when I recently heard on the radio that one-quarter of Generation X workers live paycheck to paycheck, I was floored. The notion of living that close to the edge is something very foreign to me. I’m wondering if this is an HR issue, a cultural issue, or a combination of factors.

Looking at this issue through an HR lens, we can take several steps to prevent or mitigate this spending trend. We need to pay our employees equitably and fairly, as per our organization’s compensation philosophy. Annual market updates ensure external market competitiveness. We should also provide options for employee education on personal fiscal management.

More and more I’m seeing individuals who want to buy everything…right now. That type of spending approach will certainly lead to a lack of savings. I understand that the younger members of our workforce are juggling a variety of expenses, including cars, cell phones, rent, and student loans. While we as HR practitioners cannot directly change these social / cultural issues immediately, we can provide the tools to help our employees move away from the dangers of living paycheck to paycheck into something more secure.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

What I’m Hearing…Paid Family Leave

I heard on the radio this morning that New Jersey is in the process of passing a paid family leave bill. According to the plan, employees would be able to receive up to 6 weeks of paid family leave, at a maximum rate of $500 per week.

One cannot argue that America is not as progressive as other nations when it comes to paid leave and work/life balance. We have much room for enhancement. However, should the government mandate such programs? With a maximum payout of $3,000 under the New Jersey guidelines, would it make more sense for organizations to voluntarily offer such programs, or provide special bonuses of an equal or greater amount without government interference?

Retaining good employees is becoming more difficult every day. Examining options in the area of paid family leave may become a necessity for successful organizations to continue, without intervention from the government.

Monday, March 03, 2008

You, Your Health & You

Gotta love The Daily Show...but you definitely have to love old school Daily Show...

So we decided to go back and get some Human Resources clips from way-back-when...


Just in case you had a case of the Mondays...and in case you're wondering, we'll be giving you more of these fun video clips every Tuesday to make your week just a little better :)

What I’m Hearing…Résumé Objectives

When I was in college, career services taught me the importance of having an objective on my résumé. However, this never felt quite right. I certainly couldn’t put down my honest objective – to get a job to make money and gain experience with any organization willing to take a chance on me. What if someone judged me solely on the contents of that one elaborately created sentence? Why was that one sentence so important to everyone but me?

Now that I’m on the other side of the table, I again question the value of the résumé objective. I’ve seen many résumés that mention another company’s name, a field we’re not recruiting for, a desire to work in a different part of the US, or statements that tell me right away that the person is not looking for a job at Astron (e.g., seeks a high growth sales position with a Fortune 500 company on the West Coast). Résumé objectives may be helpful in weeding out candidates who won’t be a good fit, but more often than not they don’t add positive value to the recruiting equation.

According to, résumé objectives are dead. Résumés should sell you and your personal brand by making you more appealing to prospective employers. Employers don’t want to hear what you want to do. They want to know what you can do for them. recommends using a tailored summary of your skills as your personal marketing tool. It will be interesting to see if the tailored skill summary approach takes hold over the next few years. I’d like to see more résumés use this format.

Looks like back in college I was just a little ahead of my time with my thinking on résumé objectives.

March On

Marching on here on the first workday in March as we update you on some Human Resource news that we had previously touched on here on the blog...

First from the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) and their study titled "2008 Flu Prevention in the Workplace Study" say that 33% of offices send their employees home if they come to work sick to battle against presenteeism...but just 10% actually offer the employee the telecommuting options that would allow them to work from home: click here

While most of them (59 percent) say their companies offer free flu vaccine to employees, other options are reported. Eighteen percent of companies encourage employees to get a flu shot offsite and 10 percent will pay for it. Nineteen percent offer shots onsite, but at employees' expense. Three percent do the same, but subsidize part of the cost.

"Employers recognize the benefits of keeping their employees healthy and productive during work hours," said Susan R. Meisinger, president and CEO of SHRM. "Flu season is a real threat to all businesses, so prevention is top of mind for HR professionals."

Educating employees on preventative measures to reduce the spread of flu at work is an initiative reported by 47 percent of HR professionals. Other common prevention efforts include making hand sanitizer and tissues easily accessible (52 percent).

Lastly, we turn to another one of our fellow bloggers for advice saying to make sure to protect yourself from lawsuits which can be costly, time consuming and bad for business and your company's public image: click here

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