Friday, June 30, 2006

Happy July 4th Weekend!

On this Friday before a holiday weekend we jump right into the pool (pun intended) with vacation and travel...

In January we posted on the blog (click here) that found out that Americans left over 421 million vacation days unused in 2005. That number from is expected to go up over 36% in 2006 to 574 million. In this article from Amy Joyce of the Washington Post, the topic is delved into even further: click here

Other interesting facts from the article:
  • One in four workers plans to work while on vacation this year (according to's annual survey).
  • The number of vacation days employees are skipping this year increased by one over last year
  • On average, Americans leave at least four days unclaimed annually.
  • Compared with other developed countries, Americans receive the fewest vacation days per year on average -- 14 days, as opposed to 17 in Australia, 19 in Canada, 24 in Great Britain, 27 in Germany and 39 in France (according to the Expedia survey).
  • 20 percent of 400 workers surveyed had not taken a vacation, which is considered three or more consecutive days off, in the last three or more years.
  • 91 percent of respondents said the amount of vacation offered is very or somewhat important when applying for a job. But only 26 percent said they had considered changing jobs because of insufficient vacation time.
AAA estimates that 40.7 million people will travel more than 50 miles from home over the July 4 holiday, a 1.2 percent increase over last year's 40.2 million travelers, according to the Orlando Business Journal. I certainly will be one of those: click here

And from Tuesday's New York Times, an article about tools that are now in place to catch expense account padders. I wouldn't go booking that July 4th getaway on the company credit card anytime soon: click here

We will be closed on July 4th but we will be in the office on Monday, July 3rd which means you'll only miss one day of the blog next week...Have a great weekend!

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Hiring and Firing

3 Articles about Hiring and Firing...

We'll go with the good news first:

Hiring in the United States in July, according to The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and the Rutgers University School of Management and Labor Relations, is expected to be strong as shown by this Washington Times article: click here

Now the informative news:

According to the Washington Post, an increasing number of companies use probing questions to sift through and assess acceptability and future success of prospective hires: click here

Now the firing news:

It actually isn't all bad news since the numbers suggest strength in the labor market, but initial jobless claims rose 4000 last week, according to Bloomberg: click here

Happy Almost Friday!

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Must Be My Lucky Day

Two posts? Yes, you're getting lucky with a Double Dose of Astron Solutions blog today as Human Resource talk heats up. The SHRM conference is over, but that doesn't mean your knowledge of the current HR issues need to end.

Two hot button topics:

Whistleblowing: The high court sends a message to employers, and as detailed in this Washington Post editorial from today, it's a refreshing change for some who were worried about not being able to complain without fear: click here

Second Hand Smoke: Guess what, it kills? And, says the Surgeon General, Richard Carmona, the only way to stop it from continuing to kill is to ban it from all workplaces. Although the movie "Thank You For Smoking" was just released recently, people have known for a long time that smoking kills and some say it's about time to get rid of it in all workplaces while others worry about the effect it will have on smokers: click here

Post your comments and let us know what you think

Dear Summer

Summer is here and the outfits get ... a little bizarre. Dress codes can vary, and many employers get a little lax with their "business casual" attire. Just how lax though really does depend on the company, its culture, safety concerns, and the types of visitors the organization receives.

As you can see an example of a dress code gone wrong in this article from the Louisiana Employment Law Letter: click here

And here are some points, from's Weekly Career Update, to consider when developing your summer dress policy:

  • How many visitors do you normally entertain at your workplace? And how do they typically dress?
  • What is appropriate for the summer? Blue jeans, shorts (how short?),
    T-shirts, flip flops, sweats, peek-a-boo shirts, halter tops, spandex, tube
  • How much skin and/or undergarments do you want to see? The more lax the
    policy, the more likely you are to see visible body parts (and your next
    harassment lawsuit).

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Two for Tuesday

Two articles for this Tuesday

First comes from the New York Post as Joel Sherman shows amazement at how George Steinbrenner has loosened up the controls on his team and allowed Brian Cashman to do his job as the General Manager: click here.

We'll see how long this continues, especially with the Yankees 2 1/2 games out of first place (despite a resurgent Big Unit with help from Jason Giambi last night), but very few will deny that the overall organization is in better condition (from the Single A farm teams on up). This decision to harvest young players and build from within as well as lean on Cashman's advice that signing old, high-priced players will eventually drive the Yankees back into the baseball cellar seems to be the correct way of doing things. Eventually a good executive or manager in a company will realize when it is time to give up some control for the better of an organization and this can definitely be seen in this case.

The other article, from the Portland Business Journal is definitely related as it talks about what a C.E.O. can do to motivate employees: click here.

When I worked at Deutsche Bank as a summer intern, we used to have a speaker series. One of the speakers was a surprise guest: CEO of Private Wealth Management in North America, Gloria Nelund. She spoke and answered questions and asked us about the internship program. A couple of days later I saw Gloria in the elevators and she had remembered my name and what I was doing at the bank and asked me by name how it was going. Although not a huge gesture, the fact that the CEO took time to remember me meant a lot.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Almost Famous

Have you visited us at the SHRM conference yet? You have until Wednesday, June 28th, to do so! (details in previous post)

Jennifer C. Loftus, SPHR, CCP, CBP, GRP, a National Director for Astron Solutions, was interviewed for a Business Week segment on Paid Sabbaticals. If you missed the show on television, you can still check it out at the Business Week site:
click here

And, from Malaysia, an article from Business Times about how Human Resources have moved from the role of "payroll" or "recruiter" and into the role of "strategic partner in the organisation": click here

Let us know if you agree with that assessment.

Friday, June 23, 2006

It’s Here—the 58th Annual SHRM conference!

Please be sure to visit the Astron Solutions team at booths #2823 and 2825 at the 58th Annual SHRM Conference June 25th-28th, 2006 at the Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C.

Our Senior Team welcomes the opportunity to meet you!

National Directors Jennifer Loftus and Michael Maciekowich, and Senior Automation Expert John Sazaklis will be on hand all three days. Senior Statistical Analyst Eric Katz will join us on Monday. Statistical Analyst Michael Snell will join us Tuesday.

Join us on Tuesday, June 27th from 4-5:15 PM when Jennifer Loftus will be giving a presentation titled "I Said It Was The Money...But I Lied" which discusses ways for you and your organization to implement proactive ideas to update your exit interview systems and stem undesired turnover of key employees.

Drop off your business card or scan your badge to win one of 3 great prizes.

We’re Giving Away 2 Dalmatian Puppies and a 1GB Jumpdrive!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

When your work is a zoo

Do you feel like you're stuck in a real-life version of the movie "Office Space" with Milton playing his music in the next cubicle and Nina next door answering the corporate accounts phone? Basically is your office a zoo?

Well it's nothing like that zoo at this office... click here

But it may be like the zoo at these offices... click here

Remember, if you have any suggestions for things you would like to see discussed in our blog or on our bi-weekly ezine, Astronology, please e-mail us to let us know...

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

We're baaaaack

After a brief hiatus, the Astron Solutions blog is back and better than ever.

We'll try to keep you updated semi-regularly with articles, websites and tools having to do with Human Resources. We also encourage you to check out our website: At the bottom of the screen you can subscribe to our bi-weekly human resource ezine, Astronology.

If there is a human resource topic that you would like to see covered, e-mail us and we’ll do our best to include that in our next issue.

We’re back with two articles.

One article is about the Administrative Review Board of the U.S. Department of Labor which broke new ground in a Sarbanes-Oxley Act ("SOX") whistleblower case brought by an employee of a privately held subsidiary of a public company (from Proskauer Rose LLP): click here

The other is a humorous one which may be the first time you’ll be glad to have a bad boss (from Reuters "Oddly Enough"):
click here

If you have a boss worthy of that website, let us know too by
e-mailing us

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