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Hello, HR Bloggers!

This week in class, we are learning about Communication Audits as described by Ulrich, Younger, Brockbank, and Ulrich (2012), in chapter 7 of HR from the Outside In. They describe several methods of conducting audits, Interviews, Surveys, Critical Incident Review, Network Analysis, Observations, Document Reviews, and Focus Groups.

My question to you is, Do you conduct communication Audits in your organization? Do you use any of the methods that I listed above? What methods work best for you, why/why not? What methods do you prefer to not use for Communication Audits, why/why not?

Your opinions are greatly appreciated! Thank you, hope you all enjoy the holiday! Travel safely!

Bre Seavey


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While this may be wishful thinking, there are signs that point to the possibility of more consistent L-1 adjudications for 2015 and beyond.

One sign is recent Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) and U.S. Court of Appeals cases have exposed some inconsistencies and restrictive interpretations with respect to L-1 adjudications at Citizenship & Immigration Services (CIS) Service Centers.

The AAO recently sustained the appeal of an L-1A matter concluding that foreign national will in fact be employed in a managerial capacity in his role as Senior Technical Manager. In its review the AAO concluded that the California Service Center overlooked evidence when making its decision. Back on October 21, 2014, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in Fogo de Chao v. DHS, No. 13-5301, was pretty hard on CIS for its specialized knowledge analysis and denial of an L-1B petition for a Brazilian churrasqueiro or gaucho chef.

Another sign that L-1 adjudication consistency is actively being pursued is that Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) Officers have been sent to Service Centers for training on L-1 and TN petitions. CBP Officers adjudicate L-1 petitions for Canadian citizens right at the port of entry.

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Is it just me or does it seem that trying to give everyone a fair shot at getting time off can sometimes be a challenge (understatement)?

No matter how good the policies are written or how well intentioned leadership may be, invariably, it always seems like someone is going to be upset.

It would be nice of course to close down a whole department or even the entire company but for production reasons that is often just not an option and a certain percentage of staff have to be on duty to ensure coverage is maintained.

Growing up in Germany I saw many companies that would close down completely during the summer for example (school vacation time), but I don't know if that is still as widely practiced as back then.

Companies often even put measures into place such as vacation time cannot be requested prior to 30 days before the holiday in question so that everyone has that same start day when they can submit their requests, but from there it often is a slippery slope down to the bumpy road that leaves at least some employees feeling not quite so festive...

What are your thoughts?
Does your organization have a smooth process in place or are you also on that bumpy road?
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In my
 Strategic Human Resource Management course this week, we are examining the importance of the communication audit using chapter 7 of the book by Ulrich, Younger, Brockbank and Ulrich. I found it interesting that several item listed as things most of us have done at one time or another.  The methods listed are interviews, surveys, critical incident review, network analysis, observation, document review and focus groups (p. 174). 

I believe that if an HR professional makes regular use of the communication audit and its methods, it will help them to be both efficient and cost effective.

I would love it if someone could assist me in feedback on which method of the communication audit you find works best for you.  Also, if not using a particular method, which one of the above seven methods would you like to try?  Why?

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The Council for Global Immigration’s 2014 employer metrics survey revealed it takes nearly five times longer for employers to complete the H-1B visa process and nearly 17 times longer to complete the labor certification (PERM) process for employment visas than the government estimates. Inefficient immigration processes coupled with the growing need to obtain visas for foreign talent has resulted in a majority of respondents’ dissatisfaction with the U.S immigration system.
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As many of you are aware I can be verbose and use lots of my own words to cover a simple subject - BUT - sometimes I see somebody say it in many less words.

I want to honor Bob King at R. W. King and Associates. Bob is recognized as one of the most knowledgeable people in self funding and as people who know him will attest he does not waste a lot of words.

I took this from his recent newsletter.

"It seems like there is another company entering the self-funded arena every week; companies that a few years ago wouldn’t even quote a group because it was too small or, it wasn’t “credible." Now in order to maintain or to attain market share, they want you to sell level funded, self-funded plans down to 25 or maybe even 10 lives. It’s funny how these groups all of a sudden became credible. Probably something to do with $$$$.
Read more

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On November 20, 2014, President Obama announced a series of executive actions addressing our immigration system. These executive actions are aimed at cracking down on illegal immigration at the border, prioritizing deporting felons not families and requiring certain undocumented immigrants to pass a criminal background check and pay taxes in order to temporarily stay in the U.S. without fear of deportation.

These actions also include changes to employment-based visas and other areas of immigration law based on previous comprehensive immigration reform proposals, including:

 * Modernizing, improving and clarifying immigrant and nonimmigrant programs

 * Promoting citizenship education and public awareness for lawful permanent residents

 * Ensuring that job-creating entrepreneurs have legal means to enter and operate in the U.S. 

* Changing the procedures for I-485 adjustment of status to allow legal immigrants caught in the immigration quota backlogs to register their   applications and begin the final step of the process. 

* Directing agencies to look at modernizing the visa system, with a view to making optimal use of the numbers of visa available under law.

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Good morning fellow HR colleagues:

Upon pulling up the SHRM website this morning, I immediately found the 'State of the Society Looks at New Certification article at  We all know that there have been both pros and cons offered since the news came out that SHRM was taking this route.  I hope to offer a different spin, one "From the Trenches" of how I feel the certification will benefit me and ideally my fellow HR colleagues.   Quite frankly, I so wish I had been part of the initial group who participated in the pilot certification as today, I'm overly excited about what January holds.
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I’m startled when people still say all of this 'social media business' is a fad, when really it’s now a part of our culture.

Yet, I’ve traveled from Florida to Canada to Germany and beyond (it seems) promoting my best-selling book, A Necessary Evil: Managing Employee Activity on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn … and the Hundreds of Other Social Media Sites (SHRM, 2013); and I can’t tell you how many people tell me social media causes disruption and erodes communication and no good will come of it. (They said the same thing about the Internet 25 years ago, too, and we all know how

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2015 will be the first time I have attended the SHRM Conference. I want to be sure exactly what dates I should attend as I see dates ranging from June 27-July 1. I will be flying in from Boston so I know I will need to come the night before in order to arrive in time. Should I arrive on June 26th to make it in time? Any help would be appreciated.

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That is not a question about physical stature or your eating habits. I am referring to ACA approved medical insurance plans currently under Scrutiny. 

When the ACA came out they designated four plans called "metal plans" as acceptable standards for insurance  coverage. They were called metal plans because they were named Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum.  Each plan provided more coverage as the metal value increased. 

Then the chaos began. Employers (and everybody else) found that these plans were really expensive. Clearly "Affordable" was only in some parallel universe based on a different income system. Some very bright insurance people, attorneys and CPAS found that if you read the ACA law carefully you could offer a medical insurance plan that did not include all that expensive coverage and still be in compliance.

Those plans became known as "Skinny Plans, and "Minimum value plans". Read more

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Hi HR Professionals:

I am continuing this week in my Human Resource Management course and this week shifts to Ulrich, Younger, Brockbank, and Ulrich's chapter on Capability Builder in the book HR from the outside in.  This involves our doing a capability audit which includes 13 capabilities.  When I am evaluating this in regards to my employer, I can see ones that I would like to see improvement on such as risk.  Happily, I can see areas that, in my opinion, score very high.  These are social responsibility and customer connectivity (Ulrich, Younger, Brockbank & Ulrich, p.117). 

I would really appreciate if you could tell me which of the 13 capabilities you find your company handles well and which area improvement could be made in.  The 13 capabilities are as follows:

Talent, Speed, Shared mindset, Learning, Collaboration, Innovation, Accountability, Leadership, Strategic unity, Efficiency, Customer connectivity, Social responsibility, and Risk.

Laura Hutter

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In my profession, I am linked to HR leaders and practitioners around the globe. Both colleagues and clients share their frustrations as they lead HR Analytics and Strategic Workforce Planning initiatives. Recently, I launched a quick, 60-second pulse survey to see whether the challenges for 2015 were going to be any different than they have been in the past few years. Granted, this quick pulse survey is not scientific, but it is still informative.

If you are a practitioner in this space and wish to take the survey, use this link: I will continue to monitor responses across the globe.

Regardless of the country in which you reside, HR leaders are struggling with the challenge of getting stakeholder and/or leadership buy-in for Strategic Workforce Planning. My advice on this challenge is to find the person with the most “workforce pain” inside your organization. They will be overly joyed to receive any assistance you can give them and if you can ease their pain, they will be your biggest asset in validating the value of your work and spreading a positive message throughout the organization. Also look for projects where you can show a “quick win” to your leadership. When it comes to new initiatives like workforce planning and analytics, leadership patience drifts off rapidly if you can’t show value quickly.

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Staffing Management : Metrics Staffing Management, Workforce Planning

I am not sure where to start on this because I am tempted to just say "I told you so!" and leave it at that.

But I won't. So let's get into this issue.

As the ACA rolled out, employers began trying to avoid compliance in any way they could find. My advice has been to plan for implementation and do it right because it is coming and will not go away.

Consider the usual IRS tactic here:  First a regulation is proposed and then implemented after comment. Then everybody scrambles to see how they can avoid the new rules. Then sales methods jump on board and sell "Alternatives".  And finally, after all that private research, the IRS just eliminates all the Loop Holes that have been turned up. And in the more egregious case they also prosecute.

ACA has not missed a beat in this scenario. And now you ask me "Bill, which issue are you actually talking about here.  Read more

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I am not sure if you have read Dana Wilkie's article outlining the new Dress Code that was announced by Starbucks or the reactions to it...
It's an interesting article and you can catch up on it here (Click Here)

Starbucks has said that it is implementing this new policy because of health regulations and the increased handling of food (as opposed to just coffee cups). First off, to me personally, I feel that food and coffee (or other drinks) should be part of the same health regulations and if they are not (I am not an expert in that field) then maybe that needs to be looked at.

However, I do not feel that employees should be forced to remove their wedding or engagement rings, their medical alert bracelets, etc.
I know that there are instances where it is a good idea not to wear a wedding ring (or any ring). For example, as a Firefighter it was 'highly recommended' not to wear a ring. If you are going into a burning building or into any other kind of extreme situation like that, swelling, burns, etc. simply made it a good idea not to wear it so you never had to face a situation where the ring might have to be cut off.
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Wellness is not just better drugs and more medical treatment, or testing metrics. It is also work place attitude and a sense of community with other employees. Good management and solid teams can lead to dramatic productivity improvements. Oppressive or abusive management can lead to increased employee loss of time, theft, and other losses to actual productivity.

Employee wellness plan can have more impact as it keeps employees at work and in a productive state. In addition, healthier employees tend to have better attitudes and enjoy work more.

Employers need people to build their companies - answer the phone, build the product, sell the product, haul out the trash, deal with ACA and employee issues - all that stuff.  Every employer knows they have to keep their machines running but many of them fail to realize their most valuable office equipment - people - are assumed to be self maintained. Read more

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With an appropriate nod to Eric Burdon, let’s talk about human behavior and health today.: “It’s my life and I’ll do what I want. It’s my mind and I’ll think what I want”

There was an article on Physicians Briefing today about the efficacy of telephone outreach to diabetics (MONDAY, Oct. 27, 2014 (HealthDay News)). Basically, it said the approach is not working because even if you call people and ask them to take medication, they frequently ignore you.

Well now there’s a big surprise!

I am a big advocate of wellness programs and improved health, BUT I am frequently heard to say it has become its own industry and much of it is a lot of hooey.

People already know what will make them healthier, what would make them happier, what would make them thinner, they just don’t do it. And calling to tell them  they are slacking doesn't help. If it  did, nagging would be called coaching and men would put the toilet seats down more frequently.  Read more

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On October 17, 2014, District court Judge John W. Sedgwick ruled on Connolly vs Jeans and Majors vs Horn declaring Arizona's ban on same sex marriage unconstitutional. Aside from any personal feeling you may have about that ruling if your employee benefits plans SPD and your employee handbook were not changed to reflect that change you may have a problem.

Compliance documents for employee benefit plans have always been a big deal but most insurance agents were not aware of the plethora of documents required and employers who did not have professional HR managers were oblivious as well. The documentation is even more important now because  IRS and other agencies are prosecuting based on the language (or lack of) in these documents.

You might ask how big a deal is a benefits documentation review? Do you have other documents that might  enter this discussion? And you would be the big winner because the answer to that is YES! 

All of your employee documentation needs to be checked for agreement. You need be especially careful about this if you have obtained your documents from different sources. Read more
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Business Leadership : same sex marriage benefits, same sex marriage compliance

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Good morning,

While browsing the SHRM website this morning, I found two very interesting articles I want to share with my HR colleagues.  I know we all are so very busy that having the luxury of simple research to learn more may not be available.  Take a look at these two short articles that may offer value to both your organizational goals as well as your career management programs.  

Why Career Management Programs Miss the Mark at

HR Departments Hold Their Own in 2014 at 

Oftentimes, the high volume tasks associated with the HR practitioner's role, particularly  those who have other organizational responsibilities, doesn't provide ample opportunities for planning as we are simply "putting out fires" as a wise woman use to say.  This can be to our advantage in the short term but a disadvantage in the long term. We need to have quality career development planning and management programs in place for those we serve:  our employees and the organization as well as for us, the HR staff.  
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