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Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Motherhood and HR

While cleaning the greasy gunk out of the crevices of my stove, I had an epiphany: The reason HR is so female heavy is that HR fills that motherly role in the business. Some examples.

Mom: Has to clean up messes made by other people.
HR: Has to clean up messes made by other people. Got a terrible manager who is driving employees away? HR swoops in and tries to make the employees happy and the manager better. What about a case of sexual harrassment? HR to the rescue! Who has to testify when people are denied unemployment? HR! Get out your 409 and broom and come to HR!

Mom: Has to deliver nasty tasting medicine.
HR: Has to deliver bad news. "The company has decided that your position will be eliminated effective today." Or, "I understand you've been working very diligently towards this promotion, but we've decided to hire from the outside." Or, "The merit increase budget for this year is 2.5%."

Mom: Has to arrange play dates.
HR: Has to arrange job interviews. Do you know how frustrating this is? Manager: "I'm in desperate need of a new Sr. Lackey. I want to interview at least 5 candidates." So the Recruiter runs off and finds 5 quality candidates (not easy!) and then tries to schedule interviews. The manager then schedules vacation and business trips and wants the candidate to interview with 6 different team members who are also scheduling vacation and business trips. Plus most candidates are already employed and they have their own scheduling conflicts. And they wonder why it takes so long to fill positions.

Mom: Hands out allowance--on a small budget.
HR: Hands out increases--on an even smaller budget.

Mom: Runs the family bugdget--along with Dad.
HR: Responsible for runing salary increase programs, bonus programs, performance management programs, all under the watchful eye of finance.

Mom: While not being adequetly compensated, still responsible for seeing that all her children grow and progress and eventually become leaders in society.
HR: While not being adequetly compensated, still responsible for developing employees, filling leadership pipelines, and keeping people from "running away."

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Liability II

Another thought on liability from Fortune:
In today's Sarbanes-Oxley world, the chief financial officer post - once a finishing school for future CEOs - has become the crummiest gig in the corporate suite. Combine the workload necessary to comply with the controversial 2002 legislation and the knowledge that you're almost certainly the sacrificial lamb if the SEC comes calling, and it's a recipe for skyrocketing turnover.

Maybe you want to stop climbing over people to reach the top. The view seems to be unpleasant.


Did you know you can be held legally responsible for things in your professional life? Ahh, 'tis true. Granted, doctors are aware of this--they carry malpractice insurance. So, do other professions. Do you?

I don't. (So don't bother suing me--you may win a judgment but all I'll be able to give you is whatever is in the checking accoung--currently $3.98) But, I could still be open to lawsuits, even though my advice is flawless. (Legal disclaimer: My advice is not flawless. And I am not a lawyer and I don't give legal advise. This is pure entertainment! Don't sue, please?)

Dr. Wes writes about why he's "dragging his heels" when it comes to new technology that would allow patients to be monitored from home--and that information sent to a doctor's office for analysis. He writes:
It’s not about just getting the data to the doctor. That, sir, is NOT healthcare. Instead, it’s about differentiating signal from noise. With a data dump to doctor’s offices, who will sift through the mountains of data (pun intended) to determine which data represent a problem in a particular patient versus a significant change? Data can change in expected ways when certain drugs are administered: like the elevation of a white blood count after steroids are administered. Will your little data processor be capable of making higher-order decisions? Unlikely.

More importantly, if a data point exceeds a pre-defined parameter and a doctor like me is notified by an e-mail using your handy-dandy device, who will follow-up to make sure I received and acted upon the notification? E-mailing data this way, without personal contact, is like planting a sinister bomb on my desk that is waiting to explode in my face. If I don't happen to check my e-mail that week because I am inundated by the scores of aged entering their twilight years, will you take the liability heat, or will I?

Dr. Helen picks up on his post and adds this thought:
The funny thing is, many times, the client, whoever that may be, balks at the idea that they cannot use their insurance for this type of forensic exam, or that if they have to pay out of pocket, the fee is not just a few bucks. Apparently, my time and exposure to liability means little--people think health service providers are a public commodity, to be used as cheap labor or thrown to the wolves if a patient is harmed in any way--either psychologically or medically because the doctor is overwhelmed with paperwork, patients and out-of-office monitoring. If out-of-office health technology is going to succeed, the liability issues and payment compensation for doctors needs to be worked out in a reasonable way.

Now, both of these people are involved in medical professions, which we all know has liability issues. But, check out the comments at Dr. Helen:
If you're in an equipment intensive business you can mitigate by isolating the gear into a separate corp that leases the stuff back to you so your business doesn't actually own anything but a desk and a phone.

As an IT guy, I've had people expect free time, expertise, etc. from me in gov, business and private. How is this different? Get sued? Sure. I wrote a bank wire application that handles 17B -- yes billion -- per day. I can get sued too.

EVERYONE is breaking MANY laws ALL the time, without even knowing it. I can think of five or six I am violating right now, so I am probably violating 20 or 30. The last violation began about 10 minutes ago - I installed a dimmer switch for the chandelier over our dining room table without getting a permit from the city building department; creating ongoing, intentional, and possibly negligent violations of a variety of ordinances.

Yikes! Are you liable for the advice you gave your neighbor? What about the report you presented to your CEO that got presented to Wall Street?

Most people won't sue, but those that have been caught in a law suit prefer not to do it again. Be careful out there.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Managers as Walking Lawsuits

One of my employee relations colleagues informed me that she can't help it--she just sees all managers as walking lawsuits. I laughed along with her, but it's really not funny. Managers do stupid things all the time--ask wrong questions in job interviews (Do you have children? You do? What are your childcare plans?) or promote people for the wrong reasons (hey, she's hot!) or play favorites or tell racist jokes or any number of other things.

We, in HR, can't even control ourselves, let alone our managers. We do try to train them in what can and cannot be said. Apparently, Virginia State University's HR department fell behind on training their managers that you shouldn't fire people for expressing opposing viewpoints and then replace them with your live-in-lover.
Cobbs and her supporters have said that she was dismissed for her political views (she is an outspoken black Republican at a historically black college where her views place her in a distinct minority) and for backing other professors (of a range of political views) in disputes with the Virginia State administration. In announcing the settlement of her case, the Virginia Association of Scholars — one of the groups backing Cobbs — said that information obtained by Cobbs’s lawyer showed that the university’s provost, W. Eric Thomas, replaced Cobbs with a woman with whom he is living.

Cost the university $600,000.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Recording Your Employees

Dear Evil HR Lady

I have a question about firing people. Let’s say that someone is being fired for siphoning off company client lists and selling them to a major competitor. We obviously are going to fire the person, but we want to get as much information from him as possible, so we are having an exit interview, where he will be presented with all the information we have about the bad things he has done. The hope, he will expound or at least confirm. The question is, IS IT OK TO RECORD THIS TERMINATION INTERVIEW?


And We're Suing Him Too!

Dear Suing Boss,

Get a lawyer.


Evil HR Lady

Okay, Okay, I called a lawyer for you. I happen to have a lawyer brother. (Note, he's not Evil Lawyer Brother because that would be redundant, don't you think?) He said that in the state he practices in, it would be perfectly legal as long as the person conducting the interview was aware that the interview was being recorded. However, he cautioned that not all states would have the same rule, so get your own lawyer first.

Employees have no expectation of privacy at work. (Remember, this means your employer can and probably does monitor your e-mail and internet usage--but it's still okay to read Evil HR Lady at work. Really. Please?) But, you do want to be careful with how far you go with monitoring.

If you commonly made it a habit to record employees (even during benign exit interviews) you could end up with every good employee quitting and only those who couldn't possibly find another job staying. At best, you would end up with people saying the following in their exit interviews: "Oh, I love it here so much. These people are all like family to me. I don't know why I'm leaving. Did I mention I love it here and love my boss--and you Miss HR Person, I just want you to know this is the best HR department I've ever encountered." Gah! You actually want truth in these things, which is why we keep exit interview information confidential.

This, of course, is an extenuating circumstance. Your errant employee is in a whole heap of trouble. My true recommendation is regardless of what your attorney says about recording the interview, you have your lawyer present during the termination. And make sure you are calm about the confrontation. No screaming about how the employee is ruining your company. Present the facts and ask him what went on.

I do not envy you, however. Unpleasant all around. But, I am very glad you are firing this person and letting him know why.

Good luck,


Evil HR Lady (signing off for real this time)

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Hear the Evil HR Lady!

I had the great honor of being interviewed by Wayne Turmel of the Cranky Middle Manager. The interview is now posted here.

So, pop on over and listen and then tell me what you think. Unless you didn't like it. Then pretend you are my mother and practice saying, "that was very nice, dear."


I have, shall we say, "eclectic" interests. But fortunately, all roads lead to HR, so it works out for you all.

I found this article from the The New Yorker titled, "How childbirth went industrial." How could I not read that? The most fascinating part was the creation and insitution of the APGAR score--used to evaluate new babies.
The score was published in 1953, and it transformed child delivery. It turned an intangible and impressionistic clinical concept—the condition of a newly born baby—into a number that people could collect and compare. Using it required observation and documentation of the true condition of every baby. Moreover, even if only because doctors are competitive, it drove them to want to produce better scores—and therefore better outcomes—for the newborns they delivered.

Around the world, virtually every child born in a hospital had an Apgar score recorded at one minute after birth and at five minutes after birth. It quickly became clear that a baby with a terrible Apgar score at one minute could often be resuscitated—with measures like oxygen and warming—to an excellent score at five minutes. Spinal and then epidural anesthesia were found to produce babies with better scores than general anesthesia. Neonatal intensive-care units sprang into existence. Prenatal ultrasound came into use to detect problems for deliveries in advance. Fetal heart monitors became standard. Over the years, hundreds of adjustments in care were made, resulting in what’s sometimes called “the obstetrics package.” And that package has produced dramatic results. In the United States today, a full-term baby dies in just one out of five hundred childbirths, and a mother dies in one in ten thousand. If the statistics of 1940 had persisted, fifteen thousand mothers would have died last year (instead of fewer than five hundred)—and a hundred and twenty thousand newborns (instead of one-sixth that number).

Isn't that amazing? The institution of a way to monitor and quantify information ended up leading to the saving of millions (over the years) of lives. Develop a metric that truly measures what you need and then follow its advice.

I read about another interesting metric involving Master's Degrees for Teachers. Turns out that there isn't much evidence that a teacher with an advanced degree is a better teacher than one without. Yet, most teachers receive a premium for obtaining one.

Hmmm, we had a metric (number of teachers with master's degree) to compare with another metric (student success rate) and we thought the first should cause the second, (more educated teacher=better teacher), but current evidence suggests that's not true.

I doubt anyone in the United States would deny that there are some problems in education. Granted, many children receive fine educations--I believe I was one of the lucky ones--but many do not. The APGAR score saves lives. Can't we develop a metric that will help us save children?

I realize with the "save the children" language, I'm starting to sound like (horrors!) a liberal, but what I'm really saying is let's gather evidence and act on it.

And whose job is it to figure such things out? Drum Roll Please...Human Resources! That's right. Teachers are employees. Employee success and failure should be monitored and evaluated by HR professionals with an understanding of measurement. Are the things we are focusing our money on really bringing about success? If yes, great. If no, change needs to be made.

Metrics in HR is a relatively new field. Prior to its implementation, many HR departments were very warm and fuzzy but very unhelpful to the business. We're still warm and fuzzy (at least when non HR people are around--when we're alone, we're rather cranky), but now we understand the need for numbers to back up what we do.

If your HR department hasn't developed good ways to measure success, they should. If they need help, they should contact Evil HR Lady, who would be happy to help them out. For a small fee. (Hey, I'm a free market capitalist--remember?)

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

It's Not Just in Politics

When running for office Tennessee Democrat Stephen I. Cohen pledged that he would join the Congressional Black Caucus if elected. Not an overly dramatic pledge--most politicians pledge something like single handedly bringing about world peace--but a pledge that should be fairly easy to keep. Except for one small problem--Representative Cohen is white.

He represents a district that is largely African American and thought his constituents concerns would be similar to his collegeagues' concerns in the Black Caucus. They did not want him to join.
Cohen said he became convinced that joining the caucus would be "a social faux pas" after seeing news reports that former Rep. William Lacy Clay Sr., D-Mo., a co-founder of the caucus, had circulated a memo telling members it was "critical" that the group remain "exclusively African-American."

Other members, including the new chairwoman, Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, D-Mich., and Clay's son, Rep. William Lacy Clay, D-Mo., agreed.

"Mr. Cohen asked for admission, and he got his answer. ... It's time to move on," the younger Clay said. "It's an unwritten rule. It's understood. It's clear."

Well, that's politics right? You and I aren't running for office. (Oh, wait, I am running for office.)

The same type of exclusionary policies are likely happening at your office. Are you a male that wants to join the "Women's Leadership Seminar"? Good luck. Several companies I have worked for have programs just for minorities and females. White males need not apply.

This is something I don't understand. Do white males by virtue of the combination of skin color and Y chromosomes automatically know how to navigate the corporate world? Do people without that blessed combination not know how to do it and need guidance?

My experience has been that very few people have an innate knowledge of how to advance in corporate America. Most people learn by trial and error and seeking out a mentor. Groups that help people succeed are great. But the end goal should be sucessful people, not specialized help for a specific group.

I Totally Agree With This

Casa del Herrero Se Usan Cucharas de Madera

At the silverware makers house, they eat with wooden spoons.

Rabble told me this one today, in reponse to my comment that everywhere I've worked, the HR department was the worst of all groups at actually firing incompetent people.


I don't want to say too much, but it's seriously a problem. I think it's partly because it's very easy to sit in a meeting with a manager discussing an employee that you don't know personally and recommend termination. It's a different story when you know the person, may like the person, know they have 3 kids and a mortgage. And we have no one to go to for advice and support.

Things That Shouldn't Matter that Do

Your Looks:
Attractive people earn about 5 percent more in hourly pay than their average-looking colleagues, who in turn earn 9 percent more per hour than the plainest-looking workers.

This means if an average-looking person earned $40,000, their prettiest co-workers would make $42,000 while their least attractive colleagues brought home just $36,400.

Plain-looking workers may also receive fewer promotions than those awarded to their more striking contemporaries.

Where You Work:
Telecommuters are less likely to get promoted than peers who head into the office every day, according to a global survey of 1,300 executives released Tuesday by Los Angeles-based executive search firm Korn/Ferry International.

That's even though most of the executives consider telecommuters to be at least as productive as their desk-bound colleagues, according to the survey. And three-quarters of those bosses also said they'd like a job in which they could regularly telecommute.

Your Personality:
Here at Fast Company, our top managers and editors were all recently asked to take the MBTI evaluation and submit their results to HR, resulting in more than a little anxiety. What would the results be used for? Who would get to see them? What if my type didn't match what the boss thought he wanted in a management-level person? Turns out that these are all questions every applicant should feel confident asking their managers or prospective managers administering a personality test. Try to understand why your manager is interested in personality theory. Remember that this process gives you as much insight into the corporate management philosophy as the test will give the company into your personal philosophy. "They can be useful learning tools," says Lara Kammrath, who teaches management at Columbia's Graduate School of Business, "but are worrying in other uses because of their very low ability to predict actual workplace behaviors."

Friday, January 19, 2007

Help, I'm Surrounded by Jerks

Not really. The only person in the same room as me is my husband and he's not a jerk. We don't even have the television on. (Although if we did, we'd be watching our DVD of House--and House is definitely a jerk.)

Anyway, it's another New York Times article. It's a common problem. Someone in your office, your family, your neighborhood or you grocery store is a jerk. And you have to deal with them.

This quote kills me, though:
For Ann Rothman, a Manhattan real estate agent, her difficult person is a know-it-all friend who simply cannot be pleased.

“She’s a superior human being, and she comes from a superior area — Berkeley, Calif.,” Ms. Rothman said. “She has told me many times that there are only two places to get good food. One of them is Berkeley, and one of them is France. And France is only second to Berkeley.”

Umm, Ms. Rothman, I realize it's cool to be interviewed by the New York Times and all, but now you are the jerk. Everyone who knows you will know which friend you are talking about and you've just embarrassed her in front of the world.

A small hint for those of you who are wondering whether or not to say something. When we advise people to stop and think if they really want to read that on the front of the New York Times, we realize most things never will. However, if the perosn you are talking to is a New York Times reporter--well, if you can't say anthing nice, don't say anything at all.

Read their suggested books and take them to heart. That way you'll stop bothering your poor employee relations person with your complaints.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Race and Your Business

"The auditors are here." These can be some of the scariest words an HR manager can hear. People showing up to make sure you are not discriminating--and keep in mind the discrimination doesn't have to be on purpose. It can be due to disparate impact.

Two articles on this topic caught my eye. The first is from the New York Times--an article about a restaurant accused of discrimination. It raises these questions:
WHATEVER the outcome, Mr. Boulud’s headaches bring to light a common problem in high-end restaurants around the country. In an industry that relies largely on immigrants, just how difficult is it for workers who don’t speak English as a first language to get ahead? And at what point does hiring someone to achieve a certain look or style in a restaurant turn into racism?

The second article was from a CNN Transcript. A woman, Lisa Bailey, was denied a job at Harvard because she had poor credit. She claims discrimination--because minorities tend to have worse credit scores than whites a policy of making decisions based on credit has a "disparate impact" on minorities. Therefore, she claims, it is a discriminatory policy. She's suing and apparently has the backing of the EEOC.

For the record, her job involved handling money. Companies should be very careful who they let handle their money. But if your poor credit is due to periods of unemployment or medical bills or something outside your control, is it fair?

Well, life is never fair. But should companies be allowed to make decisions based on how they want their restaurant to "look" or what people's credit scores are? Whatever you think the answer should be, remember the EEOC has their own opinion and as a business owner, you better be in compliance.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Managing, American Idol Style

I've seen maybe 2 episodes of American Idol, so I'm definitely not in the "fan" category, although considering its popularity I'm probably one of the few. I believe part of its appeal is how mean the judges are. The Washington Post's Lisa de Moraes reviews the early auditions and quotes many a rude and condescending statement from the judges, but she also (perhaps inadvertantly) says something about workers in general by giving the singers' responses. Note this interchange between Simon and an Idol hopeful:
"I don't want to patronize you but it's never gonna work for you, darling," Simon sneers.

"I'm sorry but we're trying to find the best, and that was so far away from it."

"Oh my God!" Rhode wails.

"No way. Please no, please!" she begs.

"The good news is today you found out you're not going to be [a singer] so you can just -- move on," Simon says therapeutically while she weeps.

Rhode seeks comfort from her family outside. "I really thought I had it. I thought I was ready. They said I'm not even a good singer," she sobs.

Simon is rude. That's part of the charm of the show. But, this is also where I wish managers would be a little bit more like him.

He tells her the "good news"--she's not a singer. The implication is she's never going to be a singer and so she should just move on. Do you know how rare it is for managers to divulge that piece of information? Please note that the singer had no idea she was a bad singer.

I once had an accountant share with me how excited he was to have finally passed the CPA exam--after only taking it yearly for 10 years! Someone should have said after the 3rd failure, "The good thing is, you weren't meant to be a CPA, now you can move on."

I once dealt with a salesman who was part of a downsizing--but he was specifically selected because he had such poor sales results. Obviously, he knew his own results, but he was convinced he wanted to be a salesman. Several years later he contacted me again--he'd just left another job in sales because the management was "so mean" and wanted to know if he could work for my company again. Ummmm, no? He wouldn't have applied but he'd contacted his former boss for a reference who had said, "Oh, I wish I had an opening for you, but I don't."

Granted, the boss was trying to be nice, but instead he prolonged this guy's opinion that sales was the right area for him. It wasn't. He needed to know the truth and move on.

Truth can really hurt. It's unpleasant to say mean things, but remember it is also "mean" to not say what you "mean." The former boss meant, "I can't rehire you because you're a horrible salesman" but the employee heard, "I would hire you if I could and I wish I had an opening for you."

It's not the employee's fault. The manager said what the employee heard, it's just not what he meant.

So mean what you say--even if it causes you to be a little mean. You can be nice in your meanness, just don't cloud the meaning.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Confidential Information

"Shhh, it's absolutely confidential."

I don't know how many times people have come to my office, shut the door behind them and said those words, or something similar. Then they tell me something intensely dull and boring ("We're thinking of rolling out a new benefits form. This one won't mention the actual dollar amount of the copays. We're hoping to cut down on complaints.")

Okay, there are some interesting things said as well. Well, they used to be interesting. Everything is interesting to the new person in HR. You get to know who is being hired and who is being fired, who committed "gross misconduct" (don't ask) and what everyone's raise is going to be. Yippee! Except that after you've seen your 27,000th raise that week and audited the data until your eyeballs bled you don't care much.

Except, when everyone is intent on keeping this particular piece of confidential information so confidential that you can't discuss it with your co-workers, superiors or (heaven forbid), underlings. Then, it becomes interesting. Oh, not that Jane Doe is being fired because her work has really gone down hill over the past 6 months. That's old hat. What is interesting is the reasons they want to keep it confidential.

Now, granted, all of this is still interesting to those outside of HR. But those of us in the thick of it just don't care any more. So, here are my thoughts about keeping HR information from other HR people.

1. If you can't keep your mouth shut, you have no business being in HR. Instead of HR bigwigs thinking up all sorts of rules to keep information under lock and key, they should hire people who can deal with it and fire people who can't.

2. Race and Gender are fairly obvious things. Really, they are. So, don't get all freaky about a report on another HR professional's desk that contains that information about employees. Yes, we don't post our racial makeup in the company cafeteria, but we're all HR here. Plus, we have access to the system and can run our own reports that display that information, if we so desire. HR can get way too panicked about such things and the results are almost comical.

3. We know executives are overpaid. We wish we were executives. We do not discuss executive salaries with people who do not need to know So, when you are in my office, asking a compensation question, if the door is shut, you don't need to whisper and tell me that this is "really confidential". First of all, even if the people around me could hear, they don't care. Second, they have access to the information as well and could look it up. Third, it's another executive salary question. It's not interesting.

4. When you try to hide what you have done, more people end up knowing about it then would ordinarily know. And more discussion takes place then would normally take place. Why? Because we have to call people and ask them to go outside normal channels. They need approval to go around established rules. So, they have to call people. Everyone has to explain to everyone else why we need this exception. ("Because it's confidential. Shh!") If you just followed normal procedures, whatever exception you thought was so juicy would be processed and ignored just like everything else.

Now, for outside HR, none of the above apply. (Well, number 4 applies everywhere. The more you try to hide, the more widely it will be known.) But inside? Either be a professional about confidential information or get out. One bad apple makes the rest of us crabby.

Friday, January 12, 2007

I'm Not That Kind of Blog!

I can see what words people put into Google to find my blog. Today I got a hit from the following search:

"How to make a lady pregnant."

Ummm, I don't think I was what you were looking for. But, welcome anyway!

Those Policies Really Do Make A Difference

Perks, we like to call them, (although the spelling bothers me because it's a shortening of perquisite, so I swear it should be perq, but then you have a q at the end and that's just not done). Do they make a difference?

Absolutely, and that is why HR departments should think long and hard about what ones they offer. (I have a list of the ones I want--let's start with telecommuting!) I just read in the New York Times that because government workers get free parking in NYC, 35% of them drive to work. Have you ever driven in Manhattan? I have. It falls into the "extremely unpleasant" category. But, hey, you have to pay to park at the train station, you have to pay for the train, but you get free parking? Might as well drive. That's an impact, all right.

One little perk, I have (which has kept me bound not only to my company, but to my particular department) is the ability to come in a little late every morning. I have an hour commute and a child in daycare and a husband who can't find his wallet in the morning, so I usually arrive around 9:15. In some departments that would mean a sure firing. My boss has two children in school and a husband--although I don't know if he loses his wallet regularly--so she understands. Huge perk (and it doesn't cost the company a penny.)

I've written about Best Buy's Results Oriented Work Environment before. Employees get to set their own schedules--work from home (or a coffee shop, or a ski lodge) if they desire. The result of this perk?
Since the program's implementation, average voluntary turnover has fallen drastically, CultureRx says. Meanwhile, Best Buy notes that productivity is up an average 35% in departments that have switched to ROWE. Employee engagement, which measures employee satisfaction and is often a barometer for retention, is way up too, according to the Gallup Organization, which audits corporate cultures.

Turnover is down, productivity is up, as is employee satisfaction. Are you listening HR departments? They didn't increase salaries, they increased non-monetary perks. (And I would imagine with telecommuting, you cut down on office space costs, which can be tremendous!)

Another company with fabulous perks is the SAS Institute.
It started with free M&M’s. Now there’s a country club, on-site Montessori daycare, on-site doctors and nurses, 35-hour work week, live piano music during lunch, 50.000 square foot fitness center, swimming pools, no dress-code, masseur, on-site car detailing. And more. If you need assistance in adopting a child or finding a college for your child or a nursing home for a parent, they have people to help you with that too.

Boy, you could definately get my loyalty for free M&Ms. (I'm starting to think--I just might be a little too focused on candy. Can you tell that I'm back on my diet?)

What perks does your company have, and what perks would you love to see added?

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Some New (to me) links

The blogosphere is an amazing thing. I wanted to share some great sites I've just found (or in several cases, they found me.)

Recruiting Fly is a great blog which brings in information on recruiting and HR in general. Run by C.M. Russell, he always seems to find interesting things first.

The Cranky Middle Manager is a podcast show, hosted by Wayne Turmel. He interviews fascinating authors and experts in business. And I'm not just saying that because I'll be on an upcoming podcast. Wayne also writes at Management Issues which is another great site. Hop over and read his column about Santa's Annual Performance Review. gathers HR articles from around the web. Then you get to vote on how much you liked them.

Don't worry--I'm going to add all these to my links, but not right now. Now I'm off to work--to add a little more HR love to the world.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Minimum Wage

The House approved a minimum wage hike today. Now, just to get my cards on the table, I am a free market capitalist. A hard core free market capitalist, if the truth be told.

When proponents start spouting about how wonderful it is to increase wages of those at the bottom of the pay scale, I always say the following thing. "I agree. And I think there needs to be a specific minimum wage for accountants."

"What?" they invariably respond. "Accountants make much more than the minimum wage."

"Oh, I know, but I think we need a new, accountant minimum wage. I say $50,000 a year."

"You're whacked, lady."

"Well, yes, but why not? If we can mandate a mimimum wage for fast food workers, why not accountants?"

"Because fast food employees need more money to have a living wage."

"Accountants need a living wage too. They probably have student loans. Plus, what if they are married, with kids, living in an expensive area? They need guarenteed paychecks as well. Sure, some jobs labeled "accounting" aren't really CPA type jobs, but I don't want to leave those people out. I don't think $50,000 is too much to ask."

"The market and each accounts abilities determines their salaries--we don't need--"

And at that point I smile and say, "we don't need a minimum accountant wage because the market and their abilities determine their salaries? Shouldn't we allow the market and abilities determine everyone's wage? I can't hire you unless you bring me more money than it costs to employ you. Creating a minimum wage just means that if you aren't capable of bring me more than $7.25 an hour then I have to fire you. Sorry about that."

Reality is, very few people earn minimum wage. And most who do, only do so for a short time period. Most are young and do not need a true "living wage." Why? Mom and Dad are supporting the living. The worker is supporting music, a car, and good times with friends.

In my town, I doubt there are any jobs that pay the minimum wage. I see fast food restaurants advertising "Staring at $8.50 an hour." Why? Because that is what the market demands.

For an interesting article on the impact on the proposed wage increase, the Washington Post published an article titled Life at $7.25 an Hour that discusses some of the people who will be affected by the raise in the minimum wages. Regarding a store owner:
It's not that he's against raising the minimum wage -- "I don't think $5.15 is adequate," he said, adding that $7.25 seems fair -- but his profit margin is thin, and wages are his biggest controllable expense. So if wages go up, he said, hours will have to come down, and the question will become: Whose?

And a low paid employee:
At the register, meanwhile, Shannon Wilk, 33, who makes $6.25 an hour, said that of course she would like to earn more money. It would help her. It would help her 18-month-old daughter. "It would be good," she said, "but also, for me, I live in income-based housing, and if I get a raise, my rent would go up, and I would lose my assistance." Even the tiniest raise would affect her, she said, and with nowhere to go, the last thing she can afford is a raise to $7.25.


Monday, January 08, 2007

Does This Sound Like Your Boss?

I found this list about bosses today and it made me giggle a little. My two favorites:
1. Never give me work in the morning. Always wait until 4:00pm and then bring it to me. The challenge of a deadline is refreshing.
4. Wait until my yearly review and THEN tell me what my goals SHOULD have been. Give me a mediocre performance rating with a cost of living increase. I’m not here for the money anyway.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Carnival Time!

Dr. Sanity has the Carnival of the Insanities posted.

My favorite (besides the announcement of my own Senate Campaign) is this video about Spiders on Drugs.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

I am Officially Announcing My Candidacy for Senate

As my regular readers know, I have two degrees in Political Science. (Yes, one alone only bordered on foolishness, so I had to get two so I would be completely unemployable. Now you understand how I ended up in HR.) One would think with my knowledge of things political, some professor somewhere--or a text book, or an American Journal of Political Science article--something, would have told me this:

The Senate has a candy desk.

One of the senators' desks is dedicated to candy. It used to belong to Rick Santorum, but since he lost his last election, it's now been assigned to the senator from Wyoming. This is problematic--everyone knows PA candy (Hersheys, anyone?), but Wyoming?

So, to rectify this situation and get free candy, I officially announce my candidacy for Senate. I'll worry about my platform later. There isn't a Senate race until 2010 for my state, so I have a few months to prepare my candidacy.

I'm accepting applications for campaign managers and lackeys. If I win, I'll let you have access to the candy desk.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

How Not to be Evil

People, people, people. How many times do I have to explain this? If you are going to be evil, you do it in a closed board room allowing only those who have taken blood oaths to keep your evil ways secret. You do not do it via e-mail. E-mail is forever.

From the Wall Street Journal (sorry, you have to be a subscriber to read it all):
Abbott's sickening plot: E-mail trail shows efforts to price-gouge on its AIDS drug c included proposal to sell its own cheaper drug, Norvir, only in a liquid form that tastes like vomit

John Carreyrou
CR Wall Street Journal

In fall 2003, Abbott Laboratories grew worried about new competition to its flagship AIDS drug, Kaletra. Then it seized on an unusual weapon that helped Kaletra's global sales top $1 billion a year, even as it exposed Abbott to criticism that it was endangering patients.
The weapon was an older Abbott AIDS drug called Norvir. It is a key part of a drug treatment that involves taking Norvir and rival companies'pills. Previously undisclosed documents and e-mails reviewed by the Wall Street Journal show how Abbott executives discussed ways to diminish the attraction of Norvir, with the goal of forcing patients to drop the rival drugs and turn to Kaletra.

At one point, the executives debated removing Norvir pills from the U.S. market and selling the medicine only in a liquid formulation that one executive admitted tasted like vomit. The taste would discourage use of Norvir and competitors' drugs and bring customers back to Kaletra, the executives reasoned, and Abbott could claim it needed Norvir pills for a humanitarian effort in Africa. Another proposal was to stop selling Norvir altogether.

Blech. And just after I said I had great respect for pharma companies.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Other Bloggers Are Doing My Job Today

Not that they know they are. But, hey thanks! Ann Althouse and Dr. Helen both have job related posts up today, so I'm just going to blog off their blogging. Talk about lazy!

(Then again, I realize that most of my readers read this at work, so no finger pointing about laziness. You should be working! And how do I know this? Because from December 22 through January 1 my hits were pathetic. Then come January 2--the first big back to work day, and they are up very high. Same phenomenon all over the blogosphere. But, I'm digressing again. I should have made staying on the same subject one of my New Year's Resolutions.)

Anyway, Althouse posts about a NYT article on Google's new hiring practice. It sounds cool to me. Here's a quote from the Original Article:
Desperate to hire more engineers and sales representatives to staff its rapidly growing search and advertising business, Google — in typical eccentric fashion — has created an automated way to search for talent among the more than 100,000 job applications it receives each month. It is starting to ask job applicants to fill out an elaborate online survey that explores their attitudes, behavior, personality and biographical details going back to high school.

I think that is so cool. I hope it works for them.
“As we get bigger, we find it harder and harder to find enough people,” said Laszlo Bock, Google’s vice president for people operations. “With traditional hiring methods, we were worried we will overlook some of the best candidates.”

I seriously believe this is a problem. Some people are fabulous workers, but simply don't interview well. Some people are great in interviewing and terrible workers. I'll be interested to see how it all turns out. Knowing Google, I suspect it will.

Dr. Helen blogs about Queen Bees in the workforce. A study was done in Spain where men and women were presented with profiles and asked to assess the candidates:
The study found that when presented with applications for promotion, women were more likely than men to assess the female candidate as less qualified than the male one...

The study says: “Female participants had a stronger tendency than male participants to view the female candidates as less qualified than the male candidate . . . they also thought that the female candidate would fare worse in the future in her job than the male candidate.”

Interesting. It certainly was that way in Jr. High. Are women more of a threat to other women? In my professional career, I've only had one male supervisor, (welcome to HR) so I don't really feel qualified to make an over-arching judgment. I have had fabulous female bosses and really, really lousy ones. Some of the female managers I know will do anything to keep their people down. Some will do anything to bring them up.

I would be interested in seeing more studies like this.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

HR Deals with Healthcare, Right?

Okay, I'm not a benefits administrator, nor do I ever plan to be one. But, HR usually is responsible for picking out health plans, which relates directly to your health care, which is why I'm blogging about this essay in the New York Times:What’s Making Us Sick Is an Epidemic of Diagnoses

The authors argue that it doesn't make sense that we are all suffering from additional diseases when everyone is living so much longer. They write:
Most of us experience physical or emotional sensations we don’t like, and in the past, this was considered a part of life. Increasingly, however, such sensations are considered symptoms of disease. Everyday experiences like insomnia, sadness, twitchy legs and impaired sex drive now become diagnoses: sleep disorder, depression, restless leg syndrome and sexual dysfunction.

They also write about the "medicalization of childhood" where every sniffle is a reason for treatment. I must say I agree with them.

All of these treatments, of course, cost money. Of course, you, the consumer, don't generally care how much they cost because you have insurance. The most I pay for a prescription is $25 for a month supply. If I order it from my prescription provider they'll give me 3 months for $25. I don't think about cost when my physician writes a prescription and neither does he, because he knows I have insurance.

And who pays for most of that insurance? Employers do. And health care costs are skyrocketing, yet we don't see a correlation between what we do and what the costs are. Maybe we'd all get bigger raises if our employers weren't paying for what used to be considered normal life.

Happy New Year!

The Evil family celebrated New Year's Eve by visiting relatives, eating macaroni and cheese and falling asleep by 11:00. We're so hip we can hardly stand it.

But, in the spirit of the holiday, I will make some resolutions.

1. Update blog description (already done! I'm so on top of things.)
2. Exercise at least once in 2007
3. No library fines--well, how about fewer libary fines? I have a real problem with this.

So, those are my New Year's Resolutions. I look forward to a new year of HR fun.