Thursday, April 28, 2005

Retired Workers are Still Working

This just in from the Center of Media Research...

A newly released report, by the JWT Mature Market Group and ThirdAge, Inc. (an online survey of 1,680 adults 40+ years of age who currently work full- or part-time for pay), finds that personal fulfillment across all demographic groups is a very important factor in the decision to work in retirement. The report says that Baby Boomers and Aging Mid-lifers are working for more than pay. The new definition, now, of fully retired, does not mean not working.

42% of these groups say that plan to fully retire, but of those, 70% plan to work (13% full time, 32% part time and 26% occasionally)

The key reasons given for continuing to work are to:

Stay mentally active(74%)
Be productive or useful(63%)
Stay physically active (62%)
Be around people (55%)
Keep learning newthings (52%)

The eye-opening brief further explores how many older workers succumb to the pressure to look young by changing their appearance (hair color, clothing, etc.) View it in detail and get on the Center for Media Research mailing list by clicking here.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Homicide More Likely at Gun-friendly Workplaces

- reported today that homicides are more likely at workplaces that allow guns. Well, that sounds about right. Read on...

Murders are three times more likely to occur in workplaces that permit employees to carry weapons than in workplaces that prohibit all weapons, new research finds.

And that risk doubles when the weapons are guns, says a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill study.

The study, published in the May issue of the American Journal of Public Health, compared 87 cases where employees were killed at work sites in North Carolina between 1994 and 1998 with 177 comparable work sites where there were no murders.

The article explains that the reason why employers allow employees to bring weapons may be for their own protection. However, having a gun at work or at home, can lead to increased cases of homicide.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Workplace Stress? Cool Is The Rule

Trends Workplace Stress? Cool Is The Rule

Looking for tips for staying stress free at work? delivered five ways for you and your employees to stay cool as cucumbers. Author Don Phin stresses the fact that the human body is not designed to sit at a desk all day long. It's vital that employees get out from behind their computers, stretch and take a little time for themselves. Believe it or not, this leads to increased productivity. Read the article here.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Celebrating the 35th Anniversary of Earth Day

Today, April 22, is Earth Day. Although it hasn't gotten much press recently, the holiday is a important reminder for businesses to be environmentally responsible. The Canadian Earth Day site offers a detailed list on how your organization can do its part to help save the planet.  Posted by Hello

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Bigger Salaries for College Grads

Human resources answers now - HR.BLR.Com

Looks like it may be easier for graduates to pay off those college loans. According to a survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), recent college grads are seeing an increase in starting salaries. Overall, the average offer to liberal arts graduates is currently $30,337, up 4.2 percent from last year's average of $29,119.

Read the full story on BLR's site here.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Candy makes the workplace a little sweeter | Business | Jar-keepers fill workplace with sweets, happiness

Happy National Licorice Day! (Yes, there is a holiday for just about everything out there!) While we are on the subject of candy, Lifesavers came out with the results of their survey which explores the treatment of employees who keep candy dishes on their desks. The results are sweet for the candy providers and a bit sour for the moochers. According to Workbytes,'s workplace column by Dawn Sagario and Larry Ballard, the survey shows that 60 percent of those with candy dishes got raises last year, compared with fewer than half who would rather just dip into a co-worker's. However, the results show that a sugar fix brightens up the workplace for everyone...

"We know the candy dish is a fun part of life, but what the results of the survey have shown us is that candy dishes offer employees a simple, enjoyable way to break through everyday office obstacles and keep the lines of communication open," said Barry Sands, who is LifeSavers' "brand manager."

Although candy may be bad for your teeth and your waistline, it's great for company morale. Time to fill up the candy dish with a fresh pack of Twizzlers!

Read the entire Workbytes article here.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

New dot-jobs Internet domain to debut in 2005

New dot-jobs Internet domain to debut in 2005

Online recruiting and hiring has a new home on the Internet... and that home is ".jobs." SHRM and two partners have been given the permission to create the new top-level Internet domain. Website addresses sporting the new urls should start showing up online sometime in late summer / early fall.

Said SHRM President and CEO Susan R. Meisinger, SPHR: “Recruiting skilled, dedicated talent is among the strategic contributions HR professionals make to the success of an organization.” The new Internet domain “has the potential to create a more streamlined recruiting process for HR professionals and make it easier for prospective employees to find vacant jobs.”

“Once established, .jobs will do three things to make the current recruiting process better,” said Tom Embrescia, chairman of .jobs, in a prepared statement. “It will make the recruitment process simpler for companies to recruit; it will make recruiting uniform for all companies; and that means that job seekers will find the jobs faster and companies will be able to more quickly fill open positions.”

Read the full story here.

New Zealand Company Fined for Work Stress

The New Zealand Herald

A New Zealand company was fined for work stress after an employee was diagnosed with depression and hypertension that was determined to be directly caused by her working environment.

New Zealand's Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Service's National operations Manager Mike Cosman said, "the mental and physical harm the woman suffered was the direct result of work pressures and poor work organization, which the company failed to deal with despite numerous complaints."

Nalder and Biddle is the first company in New Zealand convicted for failing to provide a safe work environment. Read the full story

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Your Workplace is Dirtier Than You Think!

Inside Bay Area - On the Move

Think you work in a clean environment? Think again! According to a recent study of office workplaces in San Francisco, New York, Chicago, Atlanta and Tuscon, office equipment, such as mice, keyboards, and telephones, are crawling with germs.

The study, funded by the Clorox Co., looked for the presence of the human parainfluenza 1 virus, which can cause colds and respiratory infections. The results were surprising and well...pretty disgusting. Read on...

Forty-seven percent of desktops, 46 percent of computer mice, 45 percent of telephones, 26 percent of doorknobs and door handles, and 19 percent of light switches tested positive for the parainfluenza virus, the survey found.

"These are the high-touch, high-contact areas that tend to be germ zones or germ transmission points," said survey coordinator Charles Gerba, professor of environmental microbiology at the University of Arizona.

"It becomes more relevant if you share desk space," Gerba said. "Basically, anybody that has a cold or a flu, they are laying a mine field of viruses around the office.

"I think germs have figured it out — location, location, location," he said, noting that the virus can live for up to 72 hours on surfaces.

So which of the five cities topped the workplace germ list? Check out the rest of the article here.

The Passing of the Pope Results in Increased Religious Discussion

Pope's death brings religious discussions into the workplace

Religion and politics are known as two dangerous topics of conversation. The recent passing of Pope John Paul II has made religion the popular topic in the workplace, regardless of faith. This is normal and expected, however there is cause for concern if these conversations take a negative turn. recently explored the issue of religion in the workplace and offered suggestions for employers...

The federal government has set standards regarding religious expression in the federal workplace, and much of these apply to other workplaces as well. Here are some general rules to follow, adapted from "Guidelines on Religious Exercise and Religious Expression in the Federal Workplace" (updated March 22):

Employees should be permitted to engage in private religious conversations in such places as cafeterias and hallways to the same extent that they may engage in nonreligious private expression, subject to reasonable content and provided the conversation doesn't interfere with work duties.

However, employees must refrain from such expression when a fellow employee asks that it stop or otherwise demonstrates that it is unwelcome. For example, if one employee invites another employee to attend worship services at her church, and the other employee, already a devout adherent of another faith, asks that the invitation not be repeated, the first employee must not ask again.

Laws against workplace discrimination include religious discrimination. As such, employees cannot make derogatory remarks to other employees about their faith or lack of faith. This typically will constitute religious harassment.

Also, a person holding supervisory authority over an employee may not, explicitly or implicitly, insist that the employee participate in religious activities as a condition of continued employment, promotion, salary increases, preferred job assignments, or any other incidents of employment. Nor may a supervisor insist that an employee refrain from participating in religious activities outside the workplace except pursuant to otherwise legal, neutral restrictions that apply to employees' off-duty conduct and expression in general.

Read the rest of the article here.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Employers Confront Growing Confusion over Partner Benefits

Employers Confront Growing Confusion over Partner Benefits (3/05)

The issue of partner benefits continues to cause legal confusion. A recent article in SHRM Forum attempts to decipher the situation...

"As time has gone by, things have gotten muddier, rather than clearer, from a legal perspective," said Todd A. Solomon, a partner with law firm McDermott, Will & Emery LLP in Chicago, speaking March 14 at SHRM's Employment Law and Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C. "Particularly over the past 12 months, companies have faced a number of mixed messages with respect to how they should treat same-sex couples under their benefit plans."

Adding to the confusion, Solomon said, last year Massachusetts became the first (and so far, only) state to recognize same-sex marriages, entitling same-sex spouses to all marriage-related benefits under state employment laws. But last year 13 states also passed constitutional amendments declaring that only marriages between one man and one woman would be legally valid, and a similar amendment to the U.S. Constitution was introduced in Congress.

On March 16, Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox declared that the amendment his state passed in November now bars health care and other benefits for the same-sex partners of state employees.

Meanwhile, current domestic partner laws in New Jersey and California, and a civil union law in Vermont, afford same-sex couples most or all state-recognized spousal rights without recognizing same-sex marriages. But the 1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) bars same-sex spouses from receiving any benefits under federal statutes—from the Family and Medical Leave Act and ERISA regulations to the tax code. To date, 39 states have also passed their own statutory DOMAs that, while easier to amend or revoke than constitutional amendments, still define marriage as "one man and one woman" and bar recognition of same-sex marriages performed in other states. (Click here to link to a chart of statewide marriage laws.)

With some states extending employment law mandates to cover same-sex partners and spouses, while others (and the federal government) enact prohibitions, "juxtaposed against each other, these two trends add up to a lot of confusion about what's legally required, what's optional, and what benefit providers and insurers may be doing," Solomon told conference attendees.

SHRM members can read the entire article here.

Sexual Harassment by Non-Employees - Are You Liable?

HR Matters

As an HR professional, you are no doubtedly well-versed on your organization's sexual harassment policy. You've read all of the articles and have participated in the are ready if a case of sexual harassmant occurs among your employees. But what if the harasser is a customer or vendor? Or worse yet, a client whose business is vital to the future of your organization?

From HR Matters...

Both the courts and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) have found that an employer may be held liable for sexual harassment of its employees by someone outside of the organization, such as a customer or vendor.

Unfortunately, there is little guidance as to the extent of your duty in this area. Clearly, you may have a particularly difficult time addressing the problem if you depend on the harasser's organization for a large part of your business.

Still, you have an obligation to protect your employees by investigating the complaint and by attempting to resolve the situation satisfactorily with both the employee and the alleged harasser.

According to the EEOC Guidelines on Discrimination Because of Sex (found in 29 C.F.R. §1604.11(e)), an employer may be responsible for sexual harassment by nonemployees, such as customers or vendors, if two conditions are satisfied. First, you must either have actual knowledge of the harassment or reasonably should have known about the problem. Second, you must have failed to take immediate and appropriate corrective action.

The HR Matters article includes case studies, a free sexual harassment policy download, and suggestions on how organizations should handle violators while protecting their employees. Check it out here.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

April 1-7 is National Laugh at Work Week

April 1-7 is National Laugh at Work Week

How often do you laugh at work? Laughter is proven to be "the best medicine" by releasing endorphins, which in turn, releases stress. In the workplace, laughter has also been shown to increase productivity, teamwork, and employee satisfaction.

For more on National Laugh at Work Week and how you can bring a dose of humor into your workplace click here.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Is the work ethic in America fading?

APP.COM - Changes are coming to the workplace

If you had a crystal ball to gaze into the future of your workplace, what do you think you'd see? Well, according to the World Future Society, as reported by the Asbury Park Press, you would see employees who care less about a paycheck and more about personal fulfillment. Read on...

The society says the implications are clear: "The new generation of workers cannot simply be hired and ignored. They must be nurtured, paid well and made to feel appreciated. Training is crucial. Without the opportunity to learn new skills, young people will quickly find a (new) job that will help them to prepare for the rest of their career."

As for those in the 30-plus age range — Generation X — the society notes that their continuing entrepreneurial spirit will affect large companies.

"Lifelong learning is nothing new (to Generation X). It's just the way that life is. Companies that can provide diverse, cutting-edge training will have a strong recruiting advantage over competitors that offer fewer opportunities to improve their skills and knowledge base. (They) have little interest in their employers' needs. They also have a powerful urge to do things their way."

And even with the growing use of technology allowing workers to get more done in less time, workers are finding the stress is increasing, as well.

"Stress-related problems affecting employee morale and wellness will continue to grow. Companies must help employees balance their time at work with their family lives and need for leisure. This may reduce short-term profits but will aid profitability in the long run," the society says.

For more details, check out the full article here.

Friday, April 01, 2005

To Your (Employees) Health!

Health care rates are still a cause of headaches. As reported in's Connect Newsletter...

Health care costs are moderating from last year's rates, but still rising by double digits in 2005 for most types of coverage, according to the semi-annual National Health Care Trend Survey conducted by Mellon.

Cost trends for 2005 are expected to range from 14.9% for indemnity coverage to 12.1% for those with HMOs. Cost for high-deductible consumer-driven plans -– defined in this survey as plan with a $1,500 deductible and a pharmacy benefit –- are projected to increase an average of 14.2%. Mellon survey is based on data provided by 83 insurers or health plan administrators in December 2004.

"Medical trend rates are coming down slightly, but they are still persistently high. It's a double-edged sword," says Harvey Sobel, a principal at Mellon and author of the report.

The top three reasons insurers gave Mellon why their medical trends dropped slightly from last year were improved financial results, better financial arrangements with doctors and hospitals, and a desire to be more competitive in the marketplace.

According to Mellon, the average cost per employee for healthcare increased 5% or $200, from 2004 to 2005.

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