February 2011 16
While you were busy buying the ingredients for True Grits, Winter’s Boneless Buffalo Wings and 127 Layer Dip, suddenly having a new appreciation for your own parents, and seeing this bit of news coming a mile away, here’s what was happening in the world of workforce management this week…
- Where is Sally Field when you need her? With anti-union efforts cropping up in many states now, protests are being planned nationwide to protest these efforts, something that experts fear will weaken the struggling labor movement even further. (NPR)
- Well, at least we didn’t name our children ‘Facebook’… The U.S. now has the distinction of having “the most family-hostile public policy in the developed world,” according to reports this week that we are one of only three nations – out of 181 studied by Harvard and McGill universities – that don’t guarantee working mothers leave with compensation. Our mothers would be so proud if they weren't so busy working. (Bloomberg)
- America's CEOs decide to switch it up a bit. In an effort to generate fresh ideas without hiring new management, many U.S. companies have begun asking executives to take on unfamiliar roles within the organization. It’s like “Wife Swap” but with more power suits and fewer tears. (Wall Street Journal)
- Pension envy divides private and public workers. Private workers who want the same benefits as public employees may find less to complain about as state and local governments struggle to continue offering these benefits. (NPR)
- Charlie Sheen manages to show up every employee who’s ever only bashed his boss on Twitter. After “Two and a Half Men” star Charlie Sheen made a series of very public criticisms about his boss, Chuck Lorre, CBS announced that it is halting production on its top show. The incident highlights the dilemma many employers face when star employees start showing erratic behavior. (AdAge)
- Rhode Island finds all-new way to drag down employee morale. In what is sure to be the least fun surprise ever, the nearly 2,000 teachers in Rhode Island who received termination notices this week will have to wait until the end of the school year to find out if they have a job next year. (CNN)
- Businesses seem to be doing quite well for themselves, thankyouverymuch. In what seems to be a hopeful sign for the job market, a new survey from Towers Watson shows that many large and medium-sized employers are doing away with hiring freezes and plan to give workers their highest wage increase in three years. (CBS MoneyWatch)
- Be careful when hating on the world’s oldest profession. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid wants to ban prostitution in Nevada, saying it is hurting that it is bad for the economy. Shockingly, not everyone is keen on this idea. (Slate.com)
How many alarm clocks would it take to demonstrate the number of times your employees have been late to work -- or that you've been late yourself? Is it commonplace -- or out of place -- at your workplace?
A new CareerBuilder survey on worker lateness shows that 15 percent of workers are late to work at least once a week, though that number is down from 16 percent in 2009 and 20 percent in 2008. It appears the recession has been a likely cause of the downward trend in lateness -- though it hasn't made it disappear altogether.
For the most part, surveyed workers shared a variety of "standard" reasons for being tardy:
- Thirty percent said they were delayed by traffic.
- Nineteen percent said they were late because of a lack of sleep.
- Nine percent blamed bad weather for their tardiness.
- Eight percent said there was a delay in getting their kids to daycare or school.
- Other common reasons included public transportation, wardrobe issues or dealing with pets.
Other workers, however, offered more creative excuses for being late to work -- here are the best of the best (er, worst of the worst?):
- Read between the (facial) lines | "My Botox appointment took longer than I expected."
- Feline fury | "My cat attacked me."
- The Keanu Reeves Defense | "I was delayed due to public transportation (employee produced a note signed by "The Bus Driver").
- No breakfast in bed that morning | "I didn't get any sleep because my boyfriend's wife threw me out of the house.
- Channeling Nicolas Cage | "My car was inhabited by a hive of bees and I couldn't use the car for two hours until bees left."
- D'oh Nuts | "I knew I was already going to be late, so I figured I'd go ahead and stop to get donuts for everyone."
- "Ready to pull a Britney | "My hair was hurting my head."
- Karma Policing | "My Karma is not in sync today."
- It's not me, it's you | "I'm not late -- the company clock is wrong."
What's your attendance style?
Although the excuses above are "outrageous," that doesn't necessarily mean they're not true. Either way, 1) tardiness issues appear to be on a downswing, and 2) most bosses understand that life sometimes gets in the way of work -- though 32 percent of employers surveyed said they have terminated an employee for being late. Are you one of those bosses?
CareerBuilder recently sat down with Sidney R. Brown, Chief Executive Officer of NFI, to discuss his leadership philosophy. In the following excerpt, Brown discusses the importance of having an open-door policy, being flexible and knowing when to ask for help.
WHAT IS YOUR PHILOSOPHY AS IT RELATES TO PEOPLE AND THEIR IMPACT ON YOUR DAILY BUSINESS? You can have all the tractors, trailers and warehouses in the world but if you don’t have people running them and doing it right, it doesn’t matter how much you have invested in assets. In my opinion the most valuable asset you have is your people, and then you can always get the other things behind it. What differentiates one organization from another is how those people execute in a manner that provides a service to the customers or to their fellow employees. It is all about managing the dynamics of the human resources in your organization and getting them to go on the same page. If you do not do that, nothing else counts.
HOW DO YOU ENGAGE WITH AND RELATE TO YOUR EMPLOYEES? I have an open-door policy. Every time I travel around the country, I always make it a point of stopping in and seeing one of our operations. It is important for those people to understand and meet ownership, make sure that we are all on the same page and that we care about the job that they are doing out there. I usually get some pretty good insightful things from meeting with the people on the firing line that sometimes does not filter up to the CEO’s office. We also have something called ‘skip-level’ meetings. We have done this a couple times over the last couple years where key executives will meet with people who report a few levels below me. We hold a roundtable discussion where we just see what is going on, what they are thinking about and what ideas they have. Some pretty good ideas bubble up from those kinds of meetings that provide some insight as to what is going on in the organization.
HOW DO YOU DEFINE NFI'S CULTURE? Entrepreneurial. We give people a lot of opportunities to try new things to see how they work. I think that we are flexible in our ability to respond to our customers, and I think we have held our people accountable for the results. If they’re not doing the right things, then we try to figure out with them what the right answers are. When you sit in the top job, a lot of people expect that person to have all the answers, and that person definitely does not have the answers. In the last two years, we went through some of the most difficult times in our lifetime in terms of the economic situation and there is no book there to tell a CEO what to do when he walks in the door. So you have to figure it out, but you have to figure it out with the help of a lot of the people working for you because you do not necessarily have all the answers. That is where you try to bubble up ideas, thoughts and processes from the team to figure out what we can do to make things work.
“One of the things I believe is important to being a true leader is that you connect emotionally to your employees,” says Jim Welch, president and founder of The Growth Leader, Inc.
It should come as no surprise that emotional connections are at the forefront of Welch’s leadership philosophy. After all, Welch was once Senior Vice-President of Marketing at the company that has built a business around helping people foster emotional connections: Hallmark.
We’ve all had a weird transportation experience at one time or another (some of us more than others.) From a guy on a bus jumping up and turning around in his seat to “scare” me with fake bloody teeth, to sitting next to a woman chanting incessantly next to me as the plane took off, to witnessing luggage fights with the flight attendants, I’ve had a few odd experiences myself.
While you were busy welcoming our new computer overlords, sending your deepest sympathies to Cousin Jeffrey or possibly being inspired by Madonna, here’s what was happening in the world of workforce management this week…
- Full-body scanning is no longer the biggest security checkpoint nuisance. Theft is. A TSA supervisor admitted to stealing money from passengers at security checkpoint and accepted bribes and kickbacks from a colleague. Bon Qui Qui would have none of this. (Daily Mail)
- Female veterans aren't even asking to break the glass ceiling...They just want to get into the building. According to new government date, female veterans, who are struggling to find jobs, are twice as likely to become homeless as women who never served in the military. Do I smell a sequel to G.I. Jane? (I hope not.) (USAToday)
- Colleagues who say “Namaste” together stay together. For some New York City workplaces, yoga is gaining ground on happy hour as the best place for employers and employees to bond outside of work. (Guess this is one instance where it’s okay to do the downward dog with your employees – hey-o!) (New York Post)
- Depending on how old you are, this article will inspire or depress you. Forbes Magazine profiles America’s 20 Most Powerful CEOs 40 and Under. Read it to learn the secret of their success. Or just go see The Social Network. You’ll get the gist. (Forbes)
- Business schools take a page from their own books. Faced with a need to cut back on spending, many business schools are practicing what they teach by finding more creative ways to trim their budgets and avoid layoffs. (BusinessWeek)
- Suspended teacher is a quieter, more social media-savvy Steven Slater A high school teacher in Pennsylvania has been suspended from her job after calling her students “disengaged, lazy whiners” on her blog. Similar to when a Jetblue flight attendant famously told off a rude customer last year, the incident has drawn a lot of media attention, with many defending the outspoken teacher. (MSNBC)
- The Feds are coming (and it’s not to deliver good news, if that’s what you’re thinking). As many as 1,000 businesses suspected of hiring illegal immigrants will be forced to turn over employment records for inspection, according to the Department of Homeland Security. Hopefully, that shouldn't affect anyone reading this. (WSJ.com)
- Marc Jacobs is as hip of a recruiter as he is a designer. It only makes sense that designer Marc Jacobs would turn to Twitter for help filling an open social media manager position. (The media attention probably doesn’t hurt his recruitment efforts, either.) (OUT)
- The President, the Facebook guy and the brains behind Apple have joined forces to save the world. President Obama met with 12 American technology leaders – including Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and Apple CEO Steve Jobs – to discuss ways to promote industry growth. (Bloomberg) And finally...
If you're like many companies, you, in the spirit of budget-cutting, slowed down employee travel in 2010 -- or even halted it altogether. According to a new CareerBuilder survey among more than 2,400 U.S. employers and more than 3,900 U.S. workers, 30 percent of companies say they cut back on business travel last year -- and it wasn't such a good move for many of them. Of the companies who cut back on travel, more than one-third (37 percent) said it negatively affected their business. Have you had a similar experience?
Lack of business trips and the bottom line
Budget cuts can often have ripple effects in other areas of the business. Many businesses who cut back on travel in 2010 had fewer opportunities for face-to-face meetings, leading to communication issues, hurdles in fostering client relationships, and, ultimately, fewer sales. When asked how fewer business trips affected their bottom lines, companies reported the following results:
- Less effective internal communication: 12 percent
- Fewer sales: 11 percent
- Less effective execution on internal business initiatives: 10 percent
- Less customer loyalty: 8 percent
How will this year be different?
Based on 2010's results, will companies alter business travel frequency in 2011? For the most part, it appears they won't. The majority of companies (77 percent) report business travel levels will stay the same as last year. Eleven percent said their companies will take more business trips this year (perhaps to counter the negative effects of cutting back in 2010), while 13 percent said business travel will decrease.
Although frequency of travel may be "business as usual" in 2011, many companies have started taking a different direction to help cut unnecessary expense: Altering the way that employees travel.
“Business travel is an important part of many companies’ operations as it lets them stay connected with clients and employees across the globe,” said Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources for CareerBuilder. “Some companies are revisiting their policies, though, to ensure they’re maximizing the effectiveness of their business travel initiatives.”
How are companies keeping a closer eye on travel expenses?
- Taking out the extravagance: Nearly one-third (32 percent) of companies are placing specific restrictions on business travel for employees since the recession, asking them to fly coach, lowering entertainment budgets, and having them only travel domestically.
- Virtual meetings: Forty-two percent of companies said they rely more on phone/Web conferencing now to conduct business with clients, with 31 percent saying they get just as much out of virtual meetings as face-to-face meetings.
Tell me -- has your business cut down on employee travel, or otherwise changed policies around travel to cut costs? What has worked well -- and what wouldn't you do again?
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