Thursday, August 21, 2014

The E-mail "Cool Button"

The Atlantic came up with a really clever way to make sure we don't get ruined by e-mail (H/T to Ally for the link):

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Astronology: Pay Disparity Revisited

Two years ago, Astronology explored the ongoing issue of gender pay disparity.  Since that time, discussions of the issue have continued on both the national and local stages.  In an attempt to bring awareness to this issue, March 14, 2014 was Equal Pay Day. But the question still remains, has anything changed since the 2012 census information regarding pay equity?
The PEW Research Center released a report in late December 2013 noting that women earned 84 cents for every $1 made by men in 2012. Included in their research are hourly earnings. Pew Research explains, “We chose to use hourly earnings, estimated as usual weekly earnings divided by usual hours worked in a week, because it irons out differences in earnings due to differences in hours worked.”
The report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics used in the study accounts for full time workers only (those who work at least 35 hours per week). This can impact the view of weekly earnings as women are twice as likely as men to work part-time. Regardless, the gap still falls at 16-19%.  However, on a positive note, PEW indicates that the wage gap is less among employees in the Millennial generation.  Today’s younger women have more education and an increased presence in professionals that tend to pay more, than previous generations of women.

Other factors that PEW suggests may be part of the reason that the pay gap still exists focus on wage negotiations research. The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) noticed in a natural field experiment that randomizes nearly 2,500 job seekers, “when there was no explicit statement that wages are negotiable, men are more likely to negotiate than women.” It is also suggested that women are willing to trade certain amenities, for instance, health insurance, for lower wages.
Fairly recently, the Paycheck Fairness Act failed to pass once again. Those who oppose this federal bill state that the bill will increase civil lawsuits, and find it duplicative since gender discrimination is already illegal. Those who support the bill believe the Paycheck Fairness Act will secure equal pay or reinforce equal pay for all Americans. It would also update the 1963 Equal Pay Act, which has helped close, but hasn’t fully eliminated the pay gap due to limited reinforcement and “inadequate remedies.”

Astron wants to know your opinion. Do you think the Paycheck Fairness Act would help in closing the pay gap? Do you feel like there isn’t a need for this additional law? With the millennial generation experiencing less disparity in pay, perhaps fair pay will eventually happen on its own? Contact Astronology to share your opinion!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Ask The Expert: Pay Negotiation Strategy

A few years back we had some really amazing questions for our Ask The Expert series. Astron Solutions' Founding Partner and Managing Director, Jennifer Loftus, is our resident expert and gave some sage advice to those who submitted questions. Well, we received another one and Jennifer once again came to the rescue. The question was: "Is it appropriate to ask someone you are in salary negotiations with (a senior-level position) to prove what their previous salary was (either through a W2 or paystub)?" Here's what Jennifer had to say:
Salary negotiations – always a delicate topic! The prospective employee wants to maximize his / her total rewards income, as the potential employer wants to compensate fairly and in a budget sensitive manner. Even talking about salaries may be difficult for some candidates, while others provide a robust salary history in an attempt to build for the future.

The way the current “Ask the Expert” question is written, it sounds like the person asking is the one doing the interviewing for his / her employer. I know of several organizations that ask candidates to prove their current or past salaries by providing W-2 or paystub documentation. This practice is not illegal under federal law. However, different states have different labor laws, so please check with your state’s Department of Labor before instituting such a policy.

Simply because something is legal, however, may not mean it is prudent. If the organization conducts background checks, salary information may be verified through that process. Duplicating that effort may not be necessary. In addition, one many construe such a practice as price fixing and an exploration of a competitor’s pay rates, raising concerns with the Department of Justice. In addition, if the practice is not applied consistently, the door is possibly open to discrimination claims.

Furthermore, asking for such information may send the message that the employer does not trust its candidates. For example, if someone says he / she previously made $40,000 a year, and are asking for $45,000 at your organization, this should not raise a red flag if the position’s pay range is $35,000 - $52,500. If, however, the person claims he / she earned $50,000 two jobs ago, is currently making $105,000, and now wants a salary around $140,000, I would explore that more deeply. Such pay jumps could be related to explainable factors such as earning an advanced degree, or receiving a desired promotion. Or it could be due to salary fibbing.

Good luck with your interviews! We’d love to hear how everything works out.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Cool Infographic: What Top Companies Get Right

Once in a while a very cool link ends up in my inbox--this one is from Top Management Degrees and looks at what top companies do right. Check it out:

What Top Companies Do Right

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Job Rotation: Can it Work for Your Organization?

In this issue of Astronology we explore job rotation. Has your organization used job rotation as an employee development tool?  If not, now is a great time to learn how it can help your organization to be successful!
In short, job rotation is an employee development tool used to help employees to develop skills of a wide variety of areas in an organization.  After spending some time learning a position, the employee moves to another role in the organization.  This pattern may continue for several months, or perhaps a few years, depending on the employee’s skill set and level in the organization.  There are many advantages to job rotation, including

  •         Overall employee development,
  •         Development of knowledge, skills, and techniques for how to handle various levels of responsibilities,
  •         Minimizing job boredom / job dissatisfaction,
  •         Promotion preparation
  •         Decreasing work burnout, and
  •         Increasing employee motivation and appreciation of organizational roles.
Workers’ Compensation expert Jon Coppelman remarked that when implementing job rotation in the garment industry, “The somewhat hidden benefit in this was that, when the workload increased in one area, or when someone went out sick, they had people who were cross-trained on a variety of machines so they were not short-staffed in one particular area; I don’t see any downside to people having a wider skill set, other than perhaps, increased training costs,”

What are some drawbacks of job rotation? From a labor relations perspective, experienced employees may not be pleased with revisiting entry-level positions.  Organizations that have unions may need to look into how collective-bargaining agreement clauses could encumber some job rotation programs. Naturally, overtime pay can also be an issue if not handled properly. Another concern can be quality of work. Work done by a new trainee vs. work done by a trained worker can be completely different.  Depending on the type of work and the sensitivity of the end result, some positions may not be well suited for job rotation.

Things to consider when establishing a job rotation program

·     “Job Rotation must start with an end goal: If the goal is for all the employees to be crossed-trained to do every job, the structure will have to be carefully created to avoid issues related to overtime and unions. If the goal is to train employees for eventual promotion, or to decrease job boredom, the structure will be different in regards to frequency and extent of work.
“Job rotation must be carefully planned”: This links back to the original program goal.  One series of questions to consider are

o   How will the program measure employee participation?
o   Will it be mandatory or optional?
o   What restraints will be placed on it?
o   Will employees pick out the areas where they would like to learn more?
o   What policies will need to be put in place to avoid abuse of the program, as well as protect employees from becoming overwhelmed?
o   Of what legal obligations do I need to be mindful?

·     “Employees are able to assess whether the job rotation is achieving the goals”: Making the program transparent will help employees to see how well they are doing. How will you make the program transparent enough for the employees?

·     “A mentor, internal trainer, or supervisor / trainer is provided at each step of the job rotation plan”: This additional support communicates seriousness and can assure to the employee that his / her time is valued. It also ensures for the organization that the employee completes the goals outlined for the job rotation program.

·     “Written documentation, an employee manual or online resource enhances employee learning”: Job descriptions are a must, but outlines for job rotation will also be helpful.

Now that you’ve learned more, will you consider job rotation as an option for job development in your organization? If so, how do you plan to implement it? Share your thoughts with Astron!

Monday, August 04, 2014

Dilbert Monday

It was so popular last week, I decided to make it a weekly occurrence. Have you heard a job description that sounded like this before?

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