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The company i work for is looking to hire 3-4 Superintendents/Supervisors in the Mechanical Services industry. I am looking for guidance on using head hunters. Has anyone had a great expereince with a particular head hunter? Any help would be appreicated.


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The IRS has posted draft employer ACA-compliance reporting forms. Reporting begins in 2015 for many employers, who should be tracking monthly employee data this year.
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Before you decide to tell me how many nuances I missed, please understand this is an overview of the subject. I intend to hit the highlights. 

Employers with HR professionals will already be on top of this (yes, you need one of those). For the other employers trying to do HR compliance at home on the weekend, you might consider looking at this and then calling your broker or payroll company!

If you are an employer who offers an employee benefit medical plan then you may be getting money back from your medical carrier under the MLR (Medical Loss Ratio) legislation. 

Here are some steps you need to take if you are the employer.

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The Department of State's Visa Bulletin for August 2014 notes that cut-off dates for the China-mainland born employment third preference, and third preference "Other Workers," categories have advanced for the month of August and could do so again for September.  

The bulletin notes two reasons for this advance: (1) a decline during the past two months in heavy demand by applicants with priority dates significantly (years) earlier than the previous cut-off date, and (2) declining number use in the family preferences during May and June, combined with updated estimates of such number use through the end of the fiscal year.  These developments have resulted in the availability of several hundred numbers for use in the China-mainland born employment third preference category.

During the past two months, the India employment second preference cut-off date also has advanced very rapidly based on the projected availability of "otherwise unused" numbers under the worldwide preference limit.

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Aubrey Daniels, the clinical psychologist who is often called “the father of performance management,” believes the performance appraisal process is flawed and in need of radical change at many organizations today. The biggest problem, he believes, is that reviews happen too infrequently.

He’s right on both counts.

To drive results-oriented performance, we need to change how we conduct reviews, which we’ve written about previously. Please click the images below to read these posts.
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There is a country song about some of our greatest gifts being unanswered prayers and today I am listening to a financial radio program about the value of '..decisions not made.." as I recall that song.

Frequently legislators and much of the public tend to respond with what we call knee jerk reactions. Business owners should realize this is usually a bad idea and take some time to assess situations before they respond to the latest news. 

I am reminded of two employees a few years back who got into a personal squabble. One of them discussed the issue over lunch with their manager. Later that day a group of management called the employees into the conference room to discuss the situation and how they planned to address it. The employees were surprised and stated that they had settled that issue between themselves earlier that day.

As situations and issues come up resist the urge to grab your cellphone or laptop and fire off a response. Let some time to think take place, some time to reflect, and then look at the issue again and decide if it was just emotion of the moment or is it an issue you need to address.

-A message from Bill Weaver,

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Benefits : Health Care Benefits, Health Care Costs

Could you pass a basic quiz on health savings accounts (HSAs)? Most account holders couldn’t. Also, read how employer generosity in funding health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs) may be making them less effective at controlling costs than HSAs.

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As some of you may know, my approach to solving HR problems is customized. I do not guide customers into standardized templates and software. When I attend conferences, I am almost always asked which software I selected for an analytics or workforce planning solution when I led the effort for a global Fortune 100 company. My answer is, “none.” I thought I would take this opportunity to provide some insight into my reasoning.

While analytics and workforce planning applications are making progress, I found none that would convince me that the cost of the software would be less than the value I could derive from performing customized and targeted studies. The latter yields higher value. None of the applications had capabilities anywhere near what I could perform on my own. Yes, I admit it… my high value and strategic work was performed with Excel, Access and a data visualization package. There’s nothing wrong with that. Every single workforce planning model I have ever built has been different. I build these models to provide insight into the specific issues related to a particular company’s issues. Even within the same company, the issues vary by job role, geography etc., so the models are constructed to look at the workforce data in different ways. Large software applications lock you into viewing information in the same way as your competitor. Where is the strategic advantage in purchasing expensive software which aims to make you the same as your competitor? Competitive advantage comes from being different.

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If you haven’t “dipped your toe” into the analytical pond yet, the following paragraphs aim to provide you with some advice before you do.

Having spoken with a variety of companies over the past 6 months about their HR analytics journey, I have seen a large range of challenges. Some companies have had to take a step back and re-evaluate their data systems because they have never needed to collect certain information before and they now find themselves in need of this to move forward. Others have a variety of data systems and are experiencing the frustration of merging data sets and assessing whether the data is reliable.

If you are an HR leader and find yourself in charge of this journey, it is important to take a break from the day-to-day operations of HR in order to determine your biggest pain points.

  • What is it worth to the business to fix them?
  • What will it cost to fix them?
  • How will it change your company for the better?

The answers to these questions will provide guidance on which ones to address first and which ones you’ll just have to live with for now.

Have you inventoried your data systems in order to document the information available to address the issues on your priority list?

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You’ve heard about LEAN on the factory floor, but how many of you have attempted to LEAN up HR? Are your processes the same as they were 10 years ago? 20 years ago? Are you sending out reports because “you have always done so?” Then it might be time for some LEAN HR.

Lean HR is not a program you run through your company; it’s a way of thinking every day. Without worrying about the technical jargon associated with LEAN, fundamentally, it is the following:

  • How do we do things today?
  • How do we need to do things tomorrow?
  • How do we best migrate from what we have today to what we need tomorrow?

Activities associated with LEAN may be to redefine a process, automate a process or eliminate a process entirely. Take a moment to think about a process in your own HR area which could be improved.

How Not to Do It…

As a cautionary example of what not to do, consider this. A company’s internal job posting process was manual. Managers submitted internal job postings on paper. Their management chain approved the posting, then senior management and finally HR. The posting was then entered into the online job listings on the company’s intranet. Employees could see the posting and submit an application (also a manual process but that’s a story for another day).

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Outside of HR, “big data” has been defined as large, complex data sets which make computation and analysis difficult. So what does that mean? How large is large? As computational power continues to increase, the definition of “large” must surely move along with it. Do I reach “large” when I exceed the row limits in Excel? Microsoft Access? When I can no longer run my statistical software? Do I reach “large” when I can no longer use a PC or laptop for computation?

In viewing a conference session recently, a panel of experts was asked to define what “big data” meant to them. The definitions varied widely. Several defined it as information that couldn’t be processed on one machine or data which was “bigger than you can count.” If a machine can count it but a human can’t, was it countable? Others placed less emphasis on the volume of data and referenced combing multiple data sets to provide the foundation for an analysis not previously performed.

Here’s my opinion on the topic. I actually don’t dedicate any time deciding how I would like to define “big data.” As an analytics professional, it matters very little to me how we define this term or whether we use that term at all. Like several on the panel, I agree that what matters is what you do with the data you have and the strategic business decisions you make as a result. I’ve performed many analyses with no more than 100,000 records and managed to use this information to make recommended changes in HR processes and offerings. With a data set of less than 200 records, I recommended halting an HR program because it wasn’t effective. With a data set of less than 2,000 records, I managed to predict the future workforce needed to meet the forthcoming demands by increased revenue plans. I know there are many analytics professionals out there who can cite similar projects. For those who know me, my background was Engineering and then Supply Chain before it was HR. Regardless of the functional area, the value in data remains the same. What decisions did the analysis of data allow you to make to move the business forward? This value is what matters.

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The Company I work for just had an individual who went through and successfully completed training last week; his first day of employment was going to be this morning, but he died in an auto accident last night/early this morning.  We have some employees that were his is friends-what can we do for them? Also what can we do for the family as this individual may not have life insurance, etc.? 
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 In the past couple of months my professional world has been turned upside down by two different organizations calling for changes. The first was the Society for Human Resource Management making the decision that after 130,000 certifications they needed to bring the process in house. The second was the National Speakers Association to change their brand to Platform.

I am not going to weigh into the discussion on either issue or either side of those issues. No matter which of the changes we are referring to, the discussion brings up another whole point in today’s global workplace. This other point is what is in a name? I have many business colleagues who make their living off of creating brands for organizations and even in some cases individuals. I have heard all of the arguments about branding and using that brand to attract clientele. But seriously, to professionals does a name really make that much of a difference? I recently read an article in which the author made the statement that “work is no longer a place or activity, but it is a state of mind. “ So, if work or our professions are a state of mind, which is more important – the image we present or the name of the organization that provides us with the brand.

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U.S. workers will see a median base salary increase of 3% next year across all major employee categories and most industries, still below pre-recession levels, according to new forecasts indicating no major change in the degree of upward pressure on wages -- for now.
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While hiring has picked up nicely in recent months, many employers appear willing to do more with less when it comes to managing their payrolls.
To read more, please go to Mixed Signals for Labor Market
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Have you ever gotten up to go get something and when you got where you were going you forgot what you came for?

Did your mother ever tell you just go back where you were and think about what you were doing and you will remember?

Well now there is actual research that says your memory is not any worse than it was and your mother was right - again!

It is called an "event boundary" that affects how you remember. Essentially as you leave the room you were working in you go out a door and it is an "event boundary" for your memory. You leave the room and you forget until you go back to that room.

 "The key finding is that memory performance was poorer after travelling through an open doorway, compared with covering the same distance within the same room. "Walking through doorways serves as an event boundary, thereby initiating the updating of one's event model [i.e. the creation of a new episode in memory]" the researchers said."  (Radvansky, G., Krawietz, S., and Tamplin, A. (2011). Walking through doorways causes forgetting: Further explorations. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 64 (8), 1632-1645 DOI: 10.1080/17470218.2011.571267

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Benefits : event boundry, workplace productivity

There’s just no easy way to put it. I am a relic.

I think I’ve realized this for a while, but it really hit home when I was asked to participate in an “oral history” session and reflect on the changes that I have witnessed during my 25-year tenure with SHRM. The session included seven long-time employees of the Society and me, and among the participants, I had been employed with SHRM longest. I think only three employees have worked at SHRM longer than me, but they didn’t attend for various reasons like sickness, vacation … etc. So that made me the elder statesman of SHRM for the meeting—a moment of pride for sure, but also a moment of “relic realization.”

The idea for this oral history session began when Deb Keary, SHRM’s vice president of human resources, announced that she planned to retire on August 1. Deb began working for SHRM, then known as the American Society for Personnel Administration (ASPA), in June 1989. My start date was in March 1989—just edging her out for the elder statesperson’s honors.

During the session, we all took turns talking about what it was like to work for ASPA/SHRM in the pre-Internet dark ages. The more we talked and added to what each of us was saying; it became abundantly clear how technology had radically changed the way we worked and how SHRM operated.

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Move over Kenny of South Park. The humble performance appraisal is being killed off more frequently than you ever imagined. At least, that’s what some pundits and bloggers would have us believe.

One recent example—a post on the HRbartender blog, “Here’s What Happens When You Kill the Performance Appraisal.” Despite its misleading headline, the post actually explains how the popular restaurant chain, Texas Roadhouse, transformed its performance review process. Repeat—transformed its performance review process. Not killed.

Texas Roadhouse calls its new performance appraisal process GPS, which stands for Growth, Plan and Support. The purpose of the new process, according to the HRbartender post, “is to be forward-looking instead of backward.” Performance appraisals now take place 30 days before or after an employee’s anniversary date and they focus on three issues: 1) Career opportunities employees would like in the future. 2) How they will prepare for those future opportunities. 3) The resources they need to be successful. Texas Roadhouse also de-coupled the review process from merit increases.
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