Wednesday, April 30, 2008

What I’m Hearing…National Volunteer Week

If you haven’t already heard, this week (April 28 – May 2) is National Volunteer Week. How many times have we taken volunteers for granted? Although volunteers are unpaid, so many non-profits function effectively in the community because of their volunteers’ contributions. What would happen to your local hospital, library, or school, if the volunteers stopped helping? Volunteer recruitment, retention, and motivation are no less challenging than for paid team members. If you haven’t said “thank you” lately to the volunteers you encounter in your professional and personal lives, be sure to say something this week.

In addition to thanking those who help us, have you examined the volunteer opportunities in your life? If you haven’t been active, now is a great time to get involved. I suspect I do more than most when it comes to volunteering. Between sitting on the board of HR/NY (New York City’s SHRM chapter), helping out with special HR/NY projects, serving a 3-year term with SHRM’s Total Rewards Special Expertise Panel, and giving back as a peer reviewer for SHRM and WorldatWork publications, I sometimes think that my volunteer activities could make up a full-time job! However, giving back to the professional community, networking, and making a difference in others’ lives make the time and talent contribution worth it. Start small – either professionally or personally – and see how good it feels to give back. Once you start, you’ll be hooked.

Isiah Wins Again By Losing

Isiah Thomas lives in a fantasy world. If the former NBA star-turned NBA coach-turned NBA executive was governed by normal workplace rules, he'd probably be brought out back and shot. He's made one the NBA's most important franchises a laughing stock both on the court and off of it, lost his organization millions of dollars, and even more in bad publicity he incurred through a lovely sexual harassment lawsuit. He was bad at a GM, so they made him he's fired from both...and what's he doing now?

He's been reassigned to the team as an advisor, according to ESPN (click here), but has been banned from contacting the players...lest he try to meddle some more...

So he screws up the team as GM, gets to take on the team as coach and GM...doesn't do any better there...and gets a 3 year contract extension...then he really, really does poorly...and the team fires him...but keeps him on as an advisor....

Are you kidding me? What is he going to advise on? How to lose money? How to get sued? How to lose basketball games? How not to manage a cap? How to acquire bad players? How to not coach?

The Daily News tries to explain with a great headline reading "Isiah Thomas is not fired, just banned": click here

But Deadspin, always a good source of honest reporting and a laugh, said it perfectly in their heading "Isiah Is Smarter Than All Of Us: Isiah Thomas Pretty Much Got a Promotion": click here

The best part of the article being: "that makes Isiah a tremendously well-paid secretary (and coffee boy for Jim Dolan). Isiah is making $18 million to stay away from his employers. The man was a genius all along!"

If you are in HR...look at the history of this man and the Knicks and teach it to your colleagues as a cautionary tale

Monday, April 28, 2008

Blow That Whistle

We're in the middle of the NBA and NHL playoffs...but the most important whistleblower story may be in Human Resources...

The Washington Post starts us off this an article about the whisteblower's unending story: click here

Next, from Michigan Live, some news about a lost whistleblower case in Detroit and a document on a computer: click here

And lastly, from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, word about a hospital's large payout following whistleblower's kickbacks: click here

Friday, April 25, 2008

Blogroll pt. 3

The last entry of our blogroll has some great blogs for you to check out on the Astron Solutions blog...

First, the Laconic Law Blog has a lot of great legal information for Human Resources Professionals including news on joint employers and FMLA violations: click here

Next, Thinking HR blog has some great information for HR including this one about the IRS raising the Mileage Rate for 2008 (via BLR): click here

Bootstrapper has the top 100 HR Bloggers and we hope to be on this list if they do it again in 2008: click here

Workforce Management's Workforce Blog "The Business of Management" has some great articles including one about rethinking charging workers for smoking: click here

Lastly is Workplace Attitudes who we fixed their link (sorry about that) and provide to you for great information on articles such as why jerks kill creativity: click here

If you have any other suggestions for our blogroll, please let me know...

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Blogroll Pt. 2

We're on to part 2 of 3 of reviewing our Blogroll here at Astron Solutions World of HR blog...

We start with Jim Stroud who changed the name of his blog from JimStroud to "The Recruiters Lounge" and has a new look and a new address but the same great information: click here

Also in recruiting is the Recruiting Fly Blog which today gives some diversity resumes and interview advice: click here

We have another WorldAtWork blog here for Ryan Johnson who has a lot of interesting topics including this one about Performance Reviews from a few weeks ago: click here

The HR Capitalist has a lot of interesting topics (Human Resources and not), but this recent one provides a scenario if the author had a few million dollars...they would aggregate references of a candidate: click here

And last on this list is the Industry Radar which has given us a few nice links on their website and has some great HR news on Benefits, Retirement, Health, among other topics: click here

What I’m Hearing…The Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act

Compensation came to the forefront of the nation last night, as Democratic Presidential hopefuls Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton interrupted their campaigns to return to Washington, D.C. to vote on pending legislation. The topic at hand? The Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. The legislation failed to pass in the Senate, with a 56-42 vote. The bill is likely dead for the rest of 2008.

The Ledbetter Act’s main focus was to extend the statue of limitations for filing pay discrimination claims. Had the law been passed, individuals would have been able to file such lawsuits years and decades after the alleged discrimination occurred.

I don’t disagree with the need to ensure equal pay between the sexes. With all other factors being equal, paying someone less simply because she is a woman is wrong. However, the concept of statute of limitations is an important part of our legal system. We cannot allow new legislation on matters including and beyond Human Resources to erode this foundation. Otherwise, our already litigious society will become even more so, with far reaching effects including higher insurance costs, increased money spent on legal fees, greater court backlog, and general ill will. Let’s instead focus our time on preventing such discriminatory actions from occurring in the first place, and proactively remedying any that may have unfortunately already occurred.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

What I’m Hearing…Administrative Professionals Day

Every day in America is a celebration of some sort, ranging from the traditional, like Mother’s Day, to the amusing, like National Waffle Day. Today’s celebration, Administrative Professionals Day, is an important one not to be overlooked. Effective administrative professionals keep our workplaces running smoothly and efficiently manage the details. Without them, our days would be longer and our work harder. Be sure to say thank you to the administrative professionals in your workplace. They are essential to success!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Saluting Our Blogroll Pt. 1

It's time to take a look at the fellow bloggers we link to on the right and give you a little idea of what they're writing about...

Blogs for Job hasn't had a post in a while, but shows that employees can be found in odd places (including one who just left a comment): click here

We realized we had an error in the address for Cara Welch's Public Policy Perceptions blog for WorldAtWork so we've relinked to there (click here) and ask you to check out her Earth Day article on Earth Day 2008: click here

Cheezhead talks about a theme we discussed recently and takes you in their latest article beyond Facebook and MySpace recruiting: click here has a great humor article today about 10 ways that the job market resembles Matzah: click here

Which reminds us...Happy Passover!!!

George's Employment Blawg touches on a subject we'll be getting into in a later post...but with the job market how it is, internships are becoming more and more important: click here

HR Web Cafe give you a full menu of articles about everything from spear phishing to bring-your-gun-to-work-day (or permanently): click here

Lastly for today, we go to HR World who asks if male and female owned businesses differ? click here

We'll be back with more tomorrow...enjoy!!!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Some Laughs for Friday

Courtesy of The Office: click here

Deepening the Downturn

Updating our post from yesterday is an article from the New York Times which says that workers are getting fewer hours, deepening the downturn: click here

This is a huge problem as not only are workers being laid off, but the ones who are still employed are getting less overtime and taking in smaller paychecks--which the Times cites as a worse problem than the layoffs....

And those layoffs continue, especially in the financial sector. After Merrill Lynch announced 4000 layoffs yesterday, Citigroup went more than double that with a planned 9000 layoffs: click here

This is going to create a big problem for the United States economy. With a weakening dollar, low interest rates and rising inflation, smaller salaried and laid off workers are going to be spending less. Less consumer spending will lead to less money going to companies. And companies taking on losses will be more likely to layoff more workers. Something needs to happen to stop this cycle from worsening soon or there will be quite a situation on our hands.

If you happen to be at a company that is currently trying to grow and expand, you've hit the jackpot. There are a lot of skilled workers increasingly having their wages cut or being laid off and these people will be more than willing to line up to be hired. Not only will this allow you to get the best workers, but probably pay a lot less in the process.

If you look at the graphs to the right, you can see how this has been playing out in the United States and get some idea of where we are going in the future if this continues.

Stay tuned to see how this situation continues to develop...

UPDATE: A really good point from a fellow blogger: click here

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Facebook and the Office

What happens when social networking and the office combine? can be an awkward situation, as written here in the Boston Globe: click here

Let's say that situation does come up--you are a boss and one of your subordinates tries to friend you on Facebook or MySpace or one of the other social networking websites or you are an employee and your boss sends you a friend request...what do you do?

Well first things first, whether you are a high school student, college student, young professional or "old" professional, you should scrub your social networking profiles. You never know who is looking at it.

If you think you're exempt because you are a student...just check out some of the articles from this Google search: click here

And if you think you're exempt because you're in the job world, just check out some of the articles from this Google search: click here (or, if you prefer, Myspace: click here)

And as I wrote way back in July 2006 for Astronology, the New Age of Background Checks has moved on to social networking websites: click here

So the truth is, make sure that everything in your profile is Kosher because the last thing you want is to have something meant from your friends, end up in your workspace: it could end up costing you your job.

Dissecting the Current News

Sometimes it's best to just dig into the current events and find out how it applies to Human we'll get right to that..

First, the economy. A topic that should be the hot-button of the presidential race, especially if this downturn (read: recession) in the market continues, took another turn with today's job numbers, as reported by Bloomberg: click here

This is going to have a ripple effect on the entire economy. As people continue to foreclose on homes and pay higher prices for gas, one thing they certainly cannot afford is to be out of work. This will lead a lot more people to switch out of industries such as housing which are in a lull right now and cause even more competition in other fields. This, combined with a class of '08 graduation will create even more turmoil in the economy. So while we may not be predicting the next Great Depression...let's just say: hold on to your seats.

This next story from the New York Times has HIPAA violations written all over it: click here

HR Professionals should definitely check in with their health insurance plans to make sure that their employee's information is not leaking out to the world or they will have to start lining up at the courthouse for lawsuits

Lastly, in a story that doesn't seem to go away, sexual harassment in the workplace is not necessarily confined to just the traditional workplace. As People Magazine reports, this Rob Lowe story isn't going to end anytime soon with accusations and counter-accusations and claims of abuse and extortion: click here

The lesson to be learned here for HR is that even if you don't have a traditional workspace, there may still be sexual harassment issues and a proactive approach is always the best way...

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


We start off in another direction and go with the Karen Burns, Working Girl blog's article about why references are still relevant: click here

Did you have a good April Fools prank in your office? Human Resource Executive says to grin it and bear it: click here

The Career Diva has some interesting (read: extreme) ways to get a job: click here

Online Colleges and Universities tells you why career management is right for you: click here

Lastly, the Providence Journal leaves us with an article about HR and continuing education: click here

Monday, April 14, 2008

What I'm Hearing...Salary "Surveys"

If your Sunday newspaper carries Parade magazine, you undoubtedly read their annual report What People Earn. The story contained some interesting information, as well as some facts and comments that I, as a compensation professional, already know.

I had a few concerns with the story, though. First, I did not see any quotes or source material from compensation or benefits firms. I’m left wondering where the author obtained the data she used.

Second, as this was a nationally distributed piece, there should have been some discussion around how salaries differ. One of my clients recently called this “your mileage may vary.” To read the story, I might think that my pay should be the same as, or higher than, what’s reported. However, so many factors influence pay – performance, tenure, compensation philosophy, geography, etc. – it is misleading to the general public to not mention such factors.

What did you think of Parade’s story? Take a peek and let us know!

Friday, April 11, 2008

How to Make 2008 Great---Employment Branding

First we link you to our Astronology for this week about Employment Branding: click here

If you're not already signed up for Astronology, make sure to click on that link and do it ASAP

Next, from Yahoo! Finance and US News and World Report, an article about what to do with a boss like Michael Scott from The Office: click here

And here's something that would eternally annoy all your co-workers: click here

Monday, April 07, 2008

10,000 Visitors!

You like really, really like us...

We just reached 10,000 hits on our site which is big news for us here at Astron Solutions. Thank you for making our blog a part of your Human Resource news!

Doing Some Moving....

....and that's why I've been a bit tardy on the posts...but I'm going to try to keep you updated with everything big in Human Resources....

First, from HR Daily Advisor, an article about how to detect and deal with FMLA fraud: click here

The Washington Post follows up with some advice to be encouraged by boss's attempts to grant vacation requests: click here

Lastly, we have word of another Human Resources blog entering the blogosphere: click here

Thursday, April 03, 2008

What I’m Hearing – Tolerating Poor Performance

If you follow basketball, you know that the New York Knicks have not been doing too well the past few years. Between numerous losses and the Anucha Browne-Sanders sexual harassment case, it’s been rough for the team and the fans.

Yesterday, the Knicks’ owners announced that Donnie Walsh will take over Isiah Thomas’ role as President of basketball operations for the team. Word on the street says that Mr. Walsh will also become Head Coach, ending Isiah Thomas’ tenure.

Undoubtedly in our own organizations we have an “Isiah Thomas,” someone whose attitude or poor performance drags down the department or the organization as a whole. Should we allow these individuals to stay on in their roles long after it has become obvious that the employment relationship isn’t working to everyone’s advantage?

Watson Wyatt has conducted research showing that top performing organizations terminate employees who perform unacceptably. Certainly, losing an employee can put additional strain on the remaining group. However, in many cases the team works more effectively after removing negativity and ineffective relationships. Why then do we tolerate poor performance?

Let’s hope the Knicks fare better next season, and that we use their experiences to better our own organizations.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

So That's What Those Pirates in that Commercial Were Singing About!

The guys will be happy with this article from Forbes which says that you should get your Credit Report checked before your employer does: click here

(Well at least they should pay those guys so they don't have to be pirates anymore...)

Next, from the Sun-Times News Group and the Naperville Sun, an article about a Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) that warns that no one is immune from sickness: click here

Lastly, from USA Today's On Deadline section (referring to a 2006 Forbes article),would you like to bring your baby to work every day?: click here

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Colbert Fills In

We usually like to try to give you some Jon Stewart and Daily Show for your Tuesday, but today we're going with Stephen Colbert of the Colbert Report...

First, from Indecision 2008, Stephen looks at the controversial issue of...Southsourcing:

Next, Stephen has a note for those striking outside his studio:

And then sings them a song with some famous guests:

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