Thursday, May 29, 2008

Follow Up on Direct Deposit...

Way back in February, Jennifer wrote a "What I'm Hearing" post on Direct Deposit: click here

Jennifer's conundrum dealt with putting a finger on a good reason people wouldn't use Direct Deposit...

Well this week at work, I've overheard three different conversations (office eavesdropping is for another post...) of people talking about direct deposit.

The first is an employee who is new but could not figure out how to set up the direct deposit. One of the things that employers, and especially Human Resources, need to make sure to do is to allow for an easy and simple process for employees to enroll in direct deposit.

The second was from an employee who has been employed for 9 months and is not enrolled in direct deposit talking to one who is a lot more tenured and is enrolled. The formers' said she was so happy it was not only a Friday, but a payday. The latter said that since they had direct deposit, they had no clue when a payday was coming up. This is one of the hesitations of people to getting direct deposit because they lose out of the joy of the paycheck coming every other week. Some of this is remedied by the bonus checks being delivered in person or in paper form.

The last was actually a conversation overheard on the work shuttle where someone commented that they were reducing their carbon footprint by enrolling in direct deposit. Getting rid of the paper trail of checks and opting out of paper statements is a great--albeit small--way to help out the environment...and check with your bank; there may be financial benefits for opting out of paper statements/checks also...

So there are some answers for you, Jennifer :)

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Scott McClellan's Exit Interview

I wonder if the White House does exit interviews or this is how their employees express their displeasure (via MyWayNews): click here

This is Human Resources worst nightmare. A former employee not only decides to air his displeasure about his former boss and many former co-workers, but decides to do so in a very public and scathing way. And this is not just any boss and any form of public rebuking, but but the President of the United States and a very well-publicized book about his behavior as the Commander-in-Chief.

US News and World report writes the McClellan is just another Dilbert, a powerless employee with a lousy manager: click here

This is not a normal employee-employer relationship where it can be easier for the former to complain about the behavior of the latter. But this certainly brings to light that employees have a hard time expressing their displeasure of their bosses while in the job but after they leave the position, feel more free and easy to express their real feelings.

Maybe Scott McClellan should have just had a good exit interview...

Friday, May 23, 2008

Career Couch

We're all New York Times for this blog...

Starting with the Career Couch, which says even though you have no internship yet, there's still time: click here

Next, also from the Times, their Preoccupation section writes about a "professional media transcriptionist": click here

Then, Shifting Careers tells you why leisure matters in a busy world: click here

We go back to the Career Couch which gives advice on a gainful way to use a sabbatical: click here

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

What I’m Hearing…Winning Interview Techniques

According to a recent British study, 84% of candidates bring something lucky with them to job interviews. The most common item? Lucky underwear, used by 60% of survey respondents. Interestingly, many of these 60% note that the lucky underwear they’re wearing are unwashed. Apparently, washing removes luckiness. Who knew? Now I know the error of my ways all those years. In addition to using lucky items, 73% of candidates check their horoscope before a job interview.

Here in New York, we’ve been hearing lots about New York Yankee Jason Giambi’s lucky gold thong underwear. Granted, baseball is a sport rampant with superstition, but “lucky” thoughts undoubtedly occur in your workplace on a daily basis.

As humorous as the British study may seem, I suspect the results are fairly accurate. I personally get a different feel and attitude from different outfits I own, and select my outfit for the day based on what I need to be successful with the particular audience or group I’ll see that day. This study can provide some interesting break time discussion, allowing you to learn more about your employees and what makes them tick. Along the way, they may also learn that it’s their own innate talents and expertise, and not a “lucky” coin, picture, or outfit, that makes them great.

In other news, Clearview Cinemas announced yesterday that they are going back to discounted tickets for children and seniors. The bad press and public outrage were too much. Score one for keeping the cost of living down.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Wall Street and Astronology

It's Astronology Tuesday (another Super Tuesday)...and while we encourage you to click on the link on the right and check out the newsletter, we have some other articles on our blog this Tuesday...

First from the Wall Street Journal, an article that states that relocation benefits are often negotiable: click here

Next, also from the Journal, some warning to Human Resources that when the job market improves, job hopping will heat up: click here

Lastly, Human Resources Blog, a division of Labor Law Center, has some Q&As about FMLA in small office (click here) and unfair treatment and wage manipulation (click here)=

What I’m Hearing…Rookie Police Officer Salaries

Here in New York, one of the big news items this morning is the increase to rookie police officers’ starting salaries to $35,881. In 2005, a new contact cut rookie starting salaries to $25,100. The nearly 40% increase in pay should help to address the serious recruitment issues the NYPD faces. Among other negotiated terms in exchange for the higher pay, the number of vacation days for new hires will drop from 20 per year to 10.

Recently, the City of Seattle posted billboards luring officers to relocate across the country for higher wages. The starting officer salary in the Emerald City is $47,334. The Seattle Police Department will also put in an additional $5,000 for relocation costs.

Supply and demand for labor knows no geographic boundaries. Certainly, one must give credit to Seattle for their creative recruitment techniques. However, it is good to see that New York stepped up to the plate to make these adjustments in officers’ salaries. $36,000 a year is a small salary for those who risk their lives every day to make sure we can safely enjoy ours. Hopefully this increase is a step in the right direction for attracting new talent to the field of law enforcement, and retaining the current police force.

In other news, Clearview Cinemas on Manhattan’s Upper East Side announced that child and senior movie tickets would be the same price as an adult – $12.00 – even during matinees. One wonders how far that 40% pay increase will go.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Subway Series

We just completed the first part of the subway series here in NY...and now it's time to get you caught up on HR news on our blog....

First, from the Rules of Wealth Blog, and article about handling office romances: click here

While it may be hard to have an ongoing office romance, just remember that you may not have as much privacy as you think at work according to the Wall Street Journal Career Journal: click here

Going back to an old theme, Workforce says that abuse of leave tops FMLA concerns: click here

Another blogger tells us the dark side of Human Resource Management: click here

Lastly, HR Daily Advisor gives some advice on hiring based on internet searches: click here

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Workers Comp Comes Full Circle With HR

We start out here on this Tuesday (another Super Tuesday) with an article from the American Chronicle. Workers Comp always ends with Human Resources, but this article says that it also starts with HR decisions: click here

Next, the American Dream Project says that Corporate Social Responsibility needs HR: click here

Lastly, from the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM), who does the work when an employee does FMLA leave: click here

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Home Depot's HR Cuts

First, news from United Press International that Home Depot has cut their in-store Human Resources staff: click here

This is an effect of the housing crisis. Housing building is down, so Home Depot's sales are down and Home Depot decided to cut costs by cutting HR staff....

Human Resources Executive Online thinks that this decision by Home Depot is a good idea: click here

Lastly, Guru Focus asks what took so long for Home Depot to make this decision: click here

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Back to the Strikes?

The Washington Post starts us off with an old theme, with new players. The Screen Actors Guild is now threatening to go on strike: click here

The Boston Globe follows up with an article about corporate volunteers reaching worldwide: click here

Next from the Globe, advice to answer the boss' criticism as if it were true: click here

Lastly, word also from the Globe, that after an interview, the thanks should go both ways: click here

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

How to Strengthen Your Organizational Communication Practices

It's Astronology Tuesday!!!!

Today's Astronology is about Strengthening Your Organizational Communication: click here

You also get to find out a lot more about Astron and what is going on in the HR World so I HIGHLY recommend signing up for the newsletter. It's once every two weeks and it's some of the best information you can get. And better yet, it's free!

Monday, May 05, 2008

Employers as Babysitters

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

First, we have an article from US News and World Report's "The Inside Job" which says that although employers end up playing babysitter for their employees, they're increasingly getting in trouble for doing so: click here

This is a very interesting view on the situation which, in effect is saying to Americans "grow up"

Next, from Human Resources Executive Online, an article about what workers want from the President: click here

Also, from the Salt Lake Tribune, word on what happens if you hire undocumented workers and get caught: click here

Lastly, from a blog that is titled "Team Building is for Suckers", a question of "where in the world is SHRM [the Society for Human Resource Management]"? click here

Sunday, May 04, 2008


As we move into May, the flowers are blooming and we're churning out the articles for you here on the Astron Solutions blog...

First...from the Wall Street article about how stay-at-home moms are filling the executive niche: click here

Next, also from the Journal, word about an interesting office perk--getting paid to volunteer: click here

Lastly, from the Baltimore Sun an article breaking down the job data that recently came out: click here

Friday, May 02, 2008

What I’m Hearing…Saving for Retirement

I met the other day with my financial planner. Among the various items we discussed was saving money for retirement. Long story short, if I want to work until 65 or 70, I’m on track. Early retirement at 55? I’ll need to save another $20,000 a year, every year. My jaw dropped when I heard that.

I’ve always been a saver. And I always thought I wanted to retire “early.” Now I’m not so sure. If I retire early, what will I do with my time? I crawl the walls after being home for more than 2 days in a row. So I’d probably end up starting another business, but that’s not “retirement” per se.

My experiences then got me thinking about the general US population. As HR professionals, we definitely need to encourage our employees and co-workers to save for retirement. Many people save little or any money. We all know that Social Security payments will be minimal at best. It is up to each person to look out for his or herself.

However, at what point do we cross the line between being cautious and missing out on life? Could I live in a lower cost of living area, or reduce the number of dance lessons I take each week? Sure. But the tradeoff of having to work a few extra years because of enhancing life now, while still being financially cautious, doesn’t sound so bad. Life is relatively short and unpredictable. Preparing for rainy days is vitally important, but it doesn’t rain every day of the year in New York City.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

What I’m Hearing…HR Certifications

As many of us may know, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), though its subsidiary the Human Resource Certification Institute (HRCI), offers three national and two state specific Human Resource certifications – PHR, SPHR, GPHR, PHR – CA, and SPHR – CA. Currently, to sit for the PHR or SPHR certification exams, the candidate needs to have two years of exempt level HR experience.

HRCI is considering changing the exam eligibility experience requirements. The years of experience required would vary depending on which exam the person is sitting for, and what degree (e.g., Associates, Bachelor’s, and / or Master’s) the person holds. HRCI has conducted external benchmarking against other credentialing programs, considered the current experience of levels of certified professionals, and led focus groups with credential holders, employers, and SHRM chapter leaders. HRCI is currently in the process of surveying more individuals through an invitation to comment period, which closes on May 16th.

HR certification has come a long way since the time when I sat for the PHR exam (and passed!) as a recent college graduate. No longer do other HR professionals ask me what SPHR after my name means. HRCI’s steps towards elevating the experience requirement for SPHR should better align the test content with the candidates’ experiences, and truly reflect the “Senior” in SPHR.

Those considering the SPHR exam who have only 2 or 3 years of exempt level experience may want to take the exam in the Fall / Winter 2008 testing window, before the new requirements, if approved, take effect. HRCI has not stated when the new requirements would go into effect. However, why not take the initiative today and enhance your professional skills, your résumé, and your earning potential by working towards earning the certification?

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