« September 2011 | Main | November 2011 »

October 2011

99 Problems: E-Verify Ain't One...

"I got two choices yall pull over the car or
bounce on the double put the pedal to the floor
Now I ain't trying to see no highway chase with jake
Plus I got a few dollars I can fight the case
So I...pull over to the side of the road
And I heard "Son do you know why I'm stopping you for?"

Have you seen the trailers for the Battlefield 3 game?  Your kids have.  Video games now have trailers, Battlefield-3 people.  That's where this thing is going.  

Allow me to digress further.  The music for the trailer was Jay-Z's "99 problems".  It occured to me that you could basically plaster this song over anything in the world that presents a challenge.

Case in point:  I got 99 problems, E-Verify ain't one. More from BusinessWeek:

"Two years ago the Asheville (N.C.) rumor mill lit up with speculation that local flower wholesaler Van Wingerden International was hiring undocumented workers. To ensure that he take on only legal employees, co-owner Bert Lemkes enrolled the $20 million business in E-Verify, a federal program that matches data on new hires, such as Social Security numbers, with government records.

Lemkes says E-Verify has made it harder to find enough workers for his 37 acres of greenhouses, especially during spring growing season, when he employs up to 350 people. Though the U.S. unemployment rate is stalled above 9 percent, business owners such as Lemkes say few native-born workers are willing to do tough jobs, leading employers to hire immigrants. “Those who want to work fail to pass E-Verify, and those that pass fail to work,” he says.

E-Verify can be used only to check immigration status after a worker is hired, not to screen job candidates or check on existing employees. Lemkes says he has had to fire more than 60 recent hires. Although E-Verify’s proponents argue the unemployed will replace the undocumented, Lemkes says that hasn’t happened. “Without comprehensive immigration reform, [verification requirements are] going to kill agriculture,” he says."

E-Verify presents some interesting issues.  We actuallly talked about it on the CYA Report, the Fistful of Talent podcast, and the feedback was united from 3 HR pros on that show working in white collar businesses: We were for it.  But none of us ever recruits migrant-type workers.  As I was browsing through the article from BusinessWeek it hit me.  That guy is going to contract out his workforce.  30 seconds later I read this in the same article:

"Opponents worry that more full-timers will be registered as contract workers by companies seeking to avoid E-Verify, cutting payroll tax revenues. “You bring on E-Verify, that simply pushes more illegal immigrants over to employers who are willing to misclassify them as independent contractors,” says Norm Adams, a Houston insurance broker who helped defeat legislation that would have mandated use of E-Verify in Texas. “The more E-Verify laws we have in this country, the more payroll taxes we’re going to lose.” A 2008 Congressional Budget Office report estimates that requiring E-Verify nationally would cut federal tax revenue by more than $17 billion."

So you gave in (if you had a chance to do it volutarily) and enrolled in E-Verify.  If it doesn't work out, one clear path that people are going to start taking is to contract out their workforce.  Is that legal?  I don't know, but I'm assuming having a business and saying you need temp workers for a period of time and letting someone else chase them is the only way a business like Lemkes' can survive.

Of course, he'll have to pass along that expense to customers.  If he can't do that, he's out of business.

I got 99 problems, E-Verify ain't one.  But at the end of the day, figuring it out (regardless whether it's an issue for you) is probably everyone's problem.

PODCAST: THE CYA REPORT (Pilot/Show #1, Recruiting Creatives, NLRB, E-Verify, Hyphenated Names)...

Some of you know I've got another blog called Fistful of Talent (we call it FOT).  I really need to make you more aware of what's going on at that multi-contributor blog.  Today, we're proud to launch a new product at FOT.  A podcast, aptly named THE CYA REPORT.

Here's how THE CYA REPORT podcast works.  We'll sling around a light item or two, bring in the highly opinionated Tim Sackett for news, then grab a guest to educate us on something we need some CYA on. In the CYA Report - small cut future we'll have a quick hitting feature or two embedded in that format, but that's the way it's generally going to work.  Until the focus groups tell us it sucks, at which point we'll totally sell out and change it up.

Take a listen to our pilot via the flash player below (we'll work through iTunes, etc. in the weeks to come, if you don't see the player, just click the link for browser-based player), featuring the following features if you need to jump ahead:

Timestamp 2:20: Co-hosts Kris Dunn and Dawn Burke talk about keeping it real with a hyphenated name as a professional woman. Because let's face it, KD's an expert on this topic.  Also: Hungarian surnames are easy to remember.

5:12: Tim Sackett comes in with the news.  Topics: NLRB, e-Verify and discriminating against the unemployed.  We like one of these, hate another and are mixed on a third.

19:10: Why FOT believes in Jobvite (sponsor)

20:20: The CYA Report Interview with Jason Pankow of Microsoft Interactive.  Topic: Recruiting creative and technical talent at a place like Microsoft.  Ever wonder what it would be like to build a team to build a video game?  We've got that here.  Also available within - Jason's xBox handle so you can harass him on xBox live.

36:08: Why FOT reads Workforce.com (sponsor)

37:11: What we learned from the show, or why Tim became a Republican when he got old and crotchety.

Give it a listen, but remember, it's a pilot.  We're going to try and roll out a new podcast every couple of weeks, and we'll morph the show based on your feedback.  We're also going to work our game so it's no longer than 30 minutes, but that takes practice.  Drop us a comment with what you like, what was awful and what you'd like to see, etc.  Email us if it's too personal for public consumption, like a comment that Tim Sackett should be in jail for his worldviews.

Check out the CYA Report Below! Can't see the player? Click Here to Listen Now! 

Rage Against The Machine Thinks Your Company Looks A Lot Like "Maggie's Farm"...

Got a whitepaper coming out over at Kinetix that includes some video links, and here's one that was too good not to share today.

Rage Against The Machine covering the Bob Dylan classic, "Maggie's Farm".

Some of you know it from Dylan.  I know it from Rage.  Either way, the lyrics offer up a pretty good reminder of how average work can feel over time.  Sample lyics:

On jobs killing innovative thought:

"Well, I wake up in the morning
Fold my hands and pray for rain.
I got a head full of ideas
That are drivin' me insane
It's a shame 
the way she makes me 
scrub the floor..."

How about Pay for Performance?

"Well, he hands you a nickel
And he hands you a dime
And he asks you with a grin
If you're havin' a good time.."

On average performers pulling you back to the pack:

"Well I try my best
To be just like I am
But everybody wants you
To be just like them
They sing while they slave and just get bored..."

It's a shame the way you people make me scrub the floor daily here... Check out the video below (email subscribers click through for video).  Deep thoughts by Jack Handy with a great guitar riff...

RARE: The Capitalist Says This Union Member Deserves Better Treatment From Management...

I know.  Hang out long enough and you''ll see anything.  This union member deserves better treatment.  More from Deadspin:

"Pittsburgh safety Troy Polamalu, the 2010 NFL Defensive Player of the Year, has been fined Troy $10,000 for talking on a cell phone while in the bench area. Possession of cell phones in the bench area during a game is prohibited beginning 90 minutes before kickoff through the end of the game.

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said Polamalu was calling his wife to assure her he wasn't seriously injured after suffering a concussion."

So let me get this straight.  Jim Harbaugh and Jim Schwartz (coaches in the NFL) chase each other around the field after a game, curse repeatedly and almost come to blows - no action from the league.  A great citizen of the NFL (Polamalu) calls his wife from the sidelines to tell her he's OK from the road and gets fined?

Troy, you need a better union steward.

Wait a second - you collectively bargained all your rights away.  The NFL has the right to do this under your union contract.  Your union was so eager to get dues checkoff (that's direct deposit for union dues to the union bank account from your check - without you ever holding the money) that they traded a bunch of stuff, including the ability to fine you for anything, for this right.

It's not right.  But it's how the game works.

It's interesting to note that this is the type of management decision that actually opens up a window in non-union companies for organizing.  You're going to act a fool as a company?  We need a union.  Let's hold some meetings.

Once the union's in?  If you bargained the contract, we're good to go.  The NFL can do anyting it wants under that contract, even if it's something as stupid as a fine/demerit for a cell phone call to a loved one - to tell them you're going to live after an accident.

Warped and ironic.

TOO GOOD NOT TO SHARE: Jon Hyman and the EMPLOYER Bill of Rights...

Jon Hyman at the Ohio Employer's Law Blog recently came across some opinion that suggested employees really don't have enough rights in America.

So he did what any other reasonable person would do.  He listed 15 huge classifications of laws that have been passed over the past 50 years protecting employees, then he went bat shit crazy on the author by riffing an EMPLOYER'S BILL OF RIGHTS.  It's too good not to share - go read it here now, and I'm sharing the first three of a list of ten "rights" that employers deserve to get you to read the whole thing.  Here are the first three employer rights:

  1. The Right to Hire on Qualifications and Fire on Performance: We want to be able to hire a white male under the age of 40 without fear of a lawsuit from every protected class we did not hire. We want to be able to fire without the fear of an expensive lawsuit when you fail to perform.
  2. The Right to Criticize: Every performance review is not an attempt to push you out the door. Believe it or not, every employee we hire represents an investment by us. We want that investment to bear a substantial return. Criticism is meant be a constructive attempt to help you improve, not a destructive set-up for you to fail.
  3. The Right to Control Operations: We know how many people we need to employ, how many shifts we need to run, and how many facilities we need to operate. Most importantly, we know what can afford to remain profitable. If we have to shutter or relocate a plant, lay people off, or furlough hours, it’s not because we are discriminating against you; it’s because it’s necessary for us to remain open and able to employ anyone at all.

I'm nominating Jon Hyman as the Czar of Common Sense.  Go to his blog and subscribe now - one of the best in a crowded employment law blog space.

New People's Republic of California Law Actually Makes It Easier to Use Credit Checks...

In case you missed it, California Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 22 which will take effect on January 1, 2012. Here's what that says - Employers may consider a credit report for the following positions, only if the candidate is informed that a report will be sought and they have obtained written permission:

  • A managerial position Cali
  • A position in the state Department of Justice
  • A sworn peace officer or other law enforcement
  • A position for which the information contained in the report is required by law to be disclosed or obtained
  • A position that involves regular access to confidential information such as credit card account information, Social security number, or Date of birth
  • A position which the person can enter into financial transactions on behalf of the company
  • A position that involves access to confidential or proprietary information
  • A position that involves regular access to cash totaling ten thousand dollars ($10,000) or more of the employer, a customer, or client, during the workday

You have to love the People's Republic.  This one's interesting though - by signing a law that restricts the use of credit checks, they've actually helped HR pros like you and I use credit checks with more confidence in all the situations above.  Before, there was a lot of random criticism about credit checks, now you can use credit checks in all the situations above with more confidence.

The reality is that you really don't need credit checks in situations beyond what's listed above.  I'd argue you don't even need them in everything listed above, and the law means that you're a lot less likely to take a random lawsuit on credit checks as long as you're in compliance with the above list.

A rare circumstance where you might want an employment law that began in the People's Replublic to catch on in the rest of the states?  

Perhaps.  The far right will cry foul, but the sensible moderates will consider this a nice compromise in order to have piece of mind on who they CAN run credit checks on.

Unemployment Discrimination: Monster.com Has It Right, People (Job Boards are PLATFORMS)...

Repeat after me: Job Boards are PLATFORMS, not arbitrators of quality, fairness or morality.

What's a platform?  A platform is where the masses can come and use technology in a variety of ways.  Think Facebook, think Amazon.

While not as broad as Facebook or Amazon, Monster.com and CareerBuilder are platforms.  They're Platform social present to help companies get the message out about their open jobs. Morons use Facebook a good bit.  Guess what?  Morons use Monster.com as well, but that doesn't mean that Monster should bow to pressure like the following outlined over at the Huffington Post:

"For the past several months one labor advocacy group has continuously hammered companies that list job postings discriminating against the jobless.

National Employment Law Project on Wednesday lobbed its latest attack on CareerBuilder.com, which NELP says won't stop posting ads that stipulate applicants must be "currently employed."

"Employers and firms continue to post ads that refuse to even consider the unemployed, regardless of their qualifications," executive director of NELP, Christine Owens, said in a statement. "It's unfair to workers and bad for the economy. We need to be putting Americans back to work, not stigmatizing and prolonging their unemployment."

NELP pointed to five recent listings on CareerBuilder.com with discriminatory language. The unveiling of the job listings by NELP comes just one day after senators Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) sent a letter to CareerBuilder.com CEO Matt Ferguson asking the website to prohibit companies form posting job ads that discriminate against applicants based on employment status."

CareerBuilder looks to be on the fence, but other job boards are committing one way or another:

"Last month, Indeed.com announced that it would start blocking ads excluding the unemployed from openings saying, "Indeed.com strives to proved the best job search experience for job seekers. Our policy is to exclude job listings that do not comply with federal or local laws related to discriminatory hiring practices as well as job listings that discriminate against the unemployed."

Also last month, about 250,000 Americans sent petitions to Congress opposing hiring practices that discriminate against the unemployed.

Another website, Monster.com, has refused to take down its job postings with discriminatory language, and has stated that while it opposes discrimination, the company "believe[s] it is the responsibility of the employers themselves, rather than Monster, to decide what they say in their job postings and how they want their company to be viewed."

Good for Monster.com.  It's a PLATFORM, people.  Those companies just did you a favor by sharing how caveman-like they are by showing their true colors.  You should be thanking Monster.com for sticking to it's guns, not whining about it and expecting the government to put Monster into a legislative full nelson.

Hate the game.  Don't hate a job board that will show you how moronic .02% of the companies listed are.  Monster.com just did you a solid.

The One Change I'd Make To Any HR Conference: The Introduction of the Mandatory Wingman...

Paul Hebert drove down to SHRM-Atlanta for their annual conference this week - see his notes here at Fistful of Talent.  SHRM-Atlanta is one of the best local SHRM chapters in the nation.  Paul does a nice job going through what he would change about the show (after giving some positives - we're all about being fair and balanced at FOT), and much of that related to vetting the speakers.  Some cliff notes from Paul:

"Yup.  I know many times speakers don’t get paid – that limits your pool of potentials.  But I also know Wingman there are many HR pros and others who would kill to have the opportunity to talk about HR issues and how they solved – or how they are struggling to solve – those issues.  These are the stories we need to hear in HR. 

We don’t need another stock consultant presentation shoehorned into a topic that makes the cut for a SHRM breakout.  We don’t need another commercial about your new “psychometric” study.  We don’t need to be told to be more strategic.

HR needs more – well – HR.

Raise the bar on the breakouts – that’s where the real work gets done.

Get more HR folks up and involved with the speakers.  Don’t rely on the consultants (like me) to tell the story – involve the HR folks IN the story."

Paul touches on a common problem related to HR Conferences - consultants comprise no fewer than 85% of the speaking slots.  That makes sense on one level, since many consultants used to be HR pros of some sort and moved on to try to make their first million as a consultant.  Got it... check.  Those that take the consultant route generally have the most "sales" in their DNA, which means they're the most comfortable getting up and talking in front of people.  They've also got families (or pets) to feed, so again, it makes sense that your average HR conference presenter is a consultant.

But there's a better way.  Here's what the first KD HR Conference will include:  The concept of a HR pro paired with a consultant "wingman".

You want to present at the KD Conference as a consultant?  Fine.  Go find a HR pro that will present with you about how they approach your topic of choice at their company.  Your job as the consultant wingman is to be a subject matter expert, but ultimately you have to extract what the hell is going on in the field out of the HR pro you're paired with.  They're the show.  You're the person charged with making it entertaining and drawing people into the conversation from the crowd.

I repeat.  You're not THE show as a consultant wingman at the KD HR Confernece.  You're part of the show.  Dance a little bit for us, then put the spotlight on your HR partner.

Done correctly, I supspect we'd find some unbelievable pairings that would go on to headline many conferences.

Is the approach new?  No and Yes.  It's not new if you're thinking about it simply in the context of pairing a practitioner with a consultant. That's been done. It's brand new if you flex a set of expectations for a session/presentation on that pair that is truly designed to engage/challenge the audience.  

The key is the set of expectations you place on the presenters.  You've got to help them and coach them up.  Left to their own devices, there's a high probablity they're going to deliver the same old thing.

The goal: To avoid sucking and delivering a flat presentation at all costs.  Harder than it looks.  

Tuition Aid - Who Offers, How Much and Of Course, Payback's a #####...

Is the economy heating up?  The conventional wisdom is that companies are sitting on hoards of cash and not hiring, but if Tuition Aid is any indicator, companies expect the competition for talent to increase.  As a result, they're offering up benefits designed to lock people in with increasing frequency.

Case in point: Tuition Aid...

From the the newly released Benefits USA 2011/2012 survey results:

"The rate at which companies are offering tuition reimbursement to all of their employees is rapidly increasing. In 2009, only 34.9 percent of employers offered tuition reimbursement to all employees. This increased to 45.3 percent in 2010, and again in 2011 to 51.7 percent.

The amount companies are willing to reimburse employees for their education varies by industry as manufacturing and distribution companies average a reimbursement maximum of $4,689 per year. Utilities employees may receive reimbursement up to $4,227, while companies in banking and finance reimburse employees an average $3,869 each year. Healthcare organizations offer $3,104 annually for reimbursement, while those in hospitality offer the lowest reimbursement maximum, $2,757.

Sixty-five percent of organizations impose work requirements on employees receiving tuition reimbursement. On average, employees are required to work 15 months, post-reimbursement. In addition, nearly 87 percent of employers have course requirements which must be met in order to be reimbursed for education." 

Did you cut Tuition Aid in 2008?  Might be time to bring it back....

BUILD IT AND THEY WILL COME: The Cynic's Guide to Building a Great Place to Work...

Capitalist Note:  I'm speaking today at Modern Healthcare's Best Places to Work Conference in Chicago.  I did the post below and the related whitepaper back in April, and while it's a Cynic's Guide to the Great Place to Work designation, it doesn't mean the companies being honored today in Chicago aren't doing great things - they are!  It does mean that the rest of us need a plan to figure out how we chase the designation if we think it has value.

Congrads to the all the healthcare companies being honored today by Modern Healthcare. Take a look at the whitepaper below if you have interest in pursuing the designation or want to spar a bit on the relative merits of the award.

Few terms in the business world spur as much emotion as the term "Great Place to Work" (GPTW). The result?  There are lots of opinions about the value of chasing the GPTW award/designation, including the following gems:

1. Cheerleader: "The GPTW award reflects who we are and how we treat people. Let's get the award so everyone knows what we stand for." Kinetix_buildit_single_large

2. Cynic: "The GPTW award is a necessary evil.  Let's go through the award process and play the game. If we get it, it'll help recruiting."

3. Basher: "The companies that chase the GPTW designation have the same issues we do.  I think it's counterproductive to chase the award."

Some think the award is great, some think it's total BS. Like most things, I tend to come down somewhere in between.  I've been lucky enough to work in a couple of corporate environments that were voted great places to work, and I can see both sides.  

BUT: When asked, you need to have an answer to the standard question from your C-Suite or Divisional Head: "How can we build a Great Place to Work and get the award?  What are you doing to help us do that?

You need some thought starters to answer that question and let them know more people than just you need to be involved.  We did a related whitepaper at Kinetix called The Cynic's Guide to Building a Great Place to Work, and rather than cheerlead and simply say it's great, we give you 4 easy steps and 4 hard steps that any company needs to take to build a GPTW, whether you chase the award or not.  

It's interesting stuff, so if you want to read more, go get the whitepaper here (registration required). Not a sales pitch, just interesting reading and a great way to answer the question when you hear it.  I wrote it, so if you like what you get here, you'll like the whitepaper...

If you find registration for content personally appalling, I don't even know who you are anymore.... Just kidding, just email me or hit me in the comments if you're hiding from the authorities and are naturally suspicious, and I'll send you the PDF...