Wednesday, September 29, 2010

When FMLA and Social Media Collide

When I think of FMLA, I don't automatically think.....Twitter.  It never crossed my mind to make that connection.  But with the overwhelming popularity of social media sites infiltrating our home and work lives, it's a relationship that leave administrators should examine more closely.

A recent post by FMLA Insights highlights the growing relationship between employees who take FMLA leave and the social media sites used to advertise this fact.  Following the article's suggestion, I conducted my own experiment by searching Twitter for the term "FMLA."  The tweets I discovered were interesting, to say the least:
"LOL I got paid leave and FMLA!  My boss got PWNED."
"F*** yeah fmla papers approved for my meningitis!!  Off to get a pedicure."
 "Another bad headache.  Think I'll use fmla tomorrow."
The website facePINCH allows users to search Facebook status updates by topic.  Here is what I found for "FMLA":
"Do not feel like goin 2 wrk n a couple hrs...thts cool tho cus Im def bout to get sum fmla from them!"
"If I do not get my vacation I be alot mad now I need a good reason to get fmla."
"I'm working 2 shifts tomorrow....If I didn't have any work ethic or love for my job and co-workers I would start playing the FMLA card about now...." 
(These status updates are real and transcribed exactly as posted.) 

While it wouldn't be prudent for FMLA administrators to start scouring the web for their employees' "tweets" - some organizations simply have too many workers on leave, and issues of privacy could be at stake - the act of posting one's FMLA status online could create doubt as to the legitimacy of the leave: Is the employee just joking?  Or does it constitute leave abuse?  This can create a delicate situation.  If an employer comes by this information honestly, it can result in requiring the employee to seek recertification.  At minimum, it should result in a dialogue between the employee and human resources.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Does H.R. 5297 Affect You?

If you are currently a small business owner, that remains to be seen.  H.R. 5297, also known as the Small Business Jobs Act, is a bill designed to - theoretically - provide aid to small businesses in the hope that this will spur job growth, encourage investment and promote entrepreneurship

Whether the Small Business Jobs Act will succeed in creating a significant number of jobs is unknown.  In covering this bill, Slate's Jill Priluck expresses her doubt:
"While the aid package will help many small businesses, it won't create many jobs because it will benefit more established firms, rather than the young ones that do the bulk of hiring.
As denizens of the little-guy economy already know, capital is the No. 1 concern for startups and small businesses. Raising money is difficult. Business owners can't get loans from the bailed-out, dollar-hoarding banks. And while the $30 billion allocated for Small Business Administration loans is laudable, the loans will be doled out carefully in order to comply with requirements that a lot of small businesses won't come close to meeting. 
Even if small firms have, say, inventory or a healthy mortgage with which to secure funds, a loan is a loan is a loan. It needs to be paid back, sometimes within a couple of years (although the terms can be extended). If a small business or startup with little or no profits has no cash or ability to generate revenue in the first year or two, how will it pay the loan back and simultaneously grow the business?
There are small businesses with cash or the ability to generate it, but these often aren't the ones that hire. Recent Kauffman Foundation studies suggest that without startups, there would be no net job growth, and that these firms retain 80 percent of their initial employment up to their fifth year in existence. Startups drive job growth, but often, these high-impact firms rely not on debt-based lending like SBA loans, but rather angel-, VC-, or equity-based funding because lenders generally perceive them as too risky."

What are your thoughts?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

JAN Guides Employers Through ADA Complexities

The Office of Disability Employment Policy offers employers specialized accommodation solutions and ADA legislative guidance.  And guess what?  It's free.

The Job Accommodation Network (JAN) provides a number of services to individuals and employers, in an effort to promote the hiring, retention and advancement of workers with disabilities.  These services include customized accommodation assistance and referrals to support services within the employer's community.  JAN's website also includes an A-Z Disability/Accomodation Index; and a Searchable Online Accommodation Resource, which recommends various accommodation options for employees within work and educational environments.

Live chats and confidential assistance are also available.  Ideal for seasoned, as well as up-and-coming HR professionals, the Job Accommodation Network is a comprehensive, easily accessible resource.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Adding 'Blogger' to Your Resume

Confession time: I can't decide if I should add this blog to my resume.

Certainly, a lot of time has gone into creating and maintaining The Edible HR; writing new posts, providing up-to-date information and resources.  I have definitely excelled at technical skills, such as HTML and Photoshop, that were otherwise foreign to me.  And while these elements matter greatly to me, what do they convey to potential employers?  Does blogging suggest a creativity and passion for my profession, thus improving my standing as a job candidate? Or is blogging seen merely as a fun way for me to spend my time?

Katy Castro of I'm Blogging That! describes blogging as a way to showcase "knowledge that I taught [myself]."  In a time of financial insecurity, many jobseekers are returning to school or taking additional courses in an effort to improve their standing in the current job market.  Tara Weiss of Forbes Magazine says, "with competition so fierce for every open position these days, even the smallest edge can make the difference in landing you that interview - or even a job." Castro adds, "Your knowledge may cover writing to capture attention, promoting your posts through social networking, increasing RSS subscribers, and [creating] a community [through] your blog."  Though you might not currently be compensated by an employer to do these things, as a successful blogger, these are nonetheless legitimate written, technical and marketing skills.

So what are the advantages to being an HR professional who blogs about the industry?  The creation of a community of ideas and information.  The addition of one's voice to the conversation. The continued exposure to insights from fellow professionals nationwide (and occasionally, around the world!)  Blogging indicates resourcefulness and an active involvement in one's profession - which proves particularly helpful when answering the common interview question, "How do you stay updated on current HR news?"  Social media has launched a movement in recruitment strategies - take advantage by becoming an active participant.

If you are considering adding a blog to your resume, it goes without saying that it should maintain an air of professionalism. A blog should ideally be regularly updated, free of typos and feature up-to-date, working links.  A combination business/personal blog isn't recommended for inclusion on a resume, as personal information could inadvertently be revealed - information that an employer would not otherwise have access to.

Happy blogging!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

A Little Light Reading....

Check out two great articles:

Valerie Dennis provides guidance for employers who aren't sure how to deal with social media in the workplace.

Thomas A. Stewart wrote a great post about corporate initiatives and what he considers "strategic insanity."

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

"Experience Harrisburg" with Upcoming Job Fair

If you're looking for work (or work experience) in central Pennsylvania, you might be interested in the 9th annual Experience Harrisburg job and internship fair, being held on October 7, 2010.  Co-sponsored by the Capitol Region Economic Development Corporation and Harrisburg Young Professionals, the event promises to be an "informal networking event" for college students and job seekers.

Registration for the event is available online.  For more information, please contact Christine Books of the Harrisburg Regional Chamber at (717) 213-5048 or

Monday, September 13, 2010

Start Sending Out Those Health Care Reform Notices

If you haven't mailed them to employees yet, you'd better hurry: starting September 23, healthcare reform provisions will go into effect, changing benefit coverage and notice requirements to plan participants.  The U.S. Department of Labor has issued "model" language for employers to use when communicating these changes to employees.  Remember - it is the employer's responsibility to ensure that workers receive these notices!

Social Media and the Hatch Act

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel has released a detailed memo that outlines how the Hatch Act affects certain federal, state and local government employees (check here to see if you fall into this category.)  Specifically, the memo addresses social media and identifies acceptable and unacceptable online activities for covered employees on social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and personal blogs.  Covered employees can, for example, advocate for a political candidate or group through their Facebook status updates; however, employees cannot post links to the "contribution page" of a political site.

It's imperative that covered employees know which political activities they can and cannot engage in online, whether at work or at home: penalties range from a written warning to termination.  OhMyGov! has created this very handy guide.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Snagging Top Post Status

Very exciting!  An earlier post, "That Company You Applied To?  It's Just Not That Into You" has been listed on the HR community site Human Capital League as a top post for today!

If you haven't already, I highly recommend checking out HCL's online community.  There are several fantastic authors featured on a variety of topics, including Talent Management, Leadership and Recruitment.

Thanks to all who enjoyed the post!

I've Discovered BlogTalkRadio....and I Love It

I've added some new features to the site, and one of them is the BlogTalkRadio player.  I finally had a chance to sit down and listen to some really great programming by fellow HR professionals - and I'm so glad I did!  

One of my goals for this blog is to provide a multimedia of HR news and information.  BlogTalkRadio provides free radio programming for listeners, featuring thousands of channels on a variety of subjects (no fees or software downloading for listeners is necessary.)  Pay subscribers are able to host their own programming and integrate callers into the conversation.  It's engaging, creative and collaborative - the perfect platform for HR.

With so much great content available, I can't possibly feature it all at once.  To be fair, I will be rotating several programs on this site.  If you enjoy these broadcasts, register to be a BlogTalkRadio listener - or host your own show!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

A Little Light Reading....

Check out a great article in Slate Magazine that explores the pay gap between men and women, and dissects recent claims that young, single women make more money than their male counterparts (it's true - Heather Boushey explains why.)

Also worth reading is self-proclaimed "union romantic" E.J. Dionne, Jr.'s op-ed in the Washington Post, in which he articulates the historical role that unions have played in our workforce.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

When Your Nail Color Doesn't Matter

An article in this month's Glamour magazine touts the season's must-have nail polish colors: rich purples, dark blues and greys. These shades are dramatic, eye-catching and bold.  The article is quick to note, however, that these nontraditional hues are an absolute "no-go" for professionals in Corporate America.

I can't help but smile.  My former supervisor, HR Director for a non-profit in New York, has beautiful nails.  Long, immaculately-shaped, occasionally bejeweled and brightly colored (an example.) Sometimes her nails feature finely-painted, intricate designs, but typically they exist in shades of bright red, electric pink or pumpkin orange.  In all other respects, my former boss is conservatively dressed and a professional in every sense of the word.  Her knowledge of HR, particularly labor relations, is impressive.  She is respectful, a terrific listener and has the admiration of her peers and subordinates.

With qualifications like these behind you, I don't think it ultimately matters what color your nails are.

Alarming New Report from HRW

The non-profit organization Human Rights Watch has released a report that accuses several European corporations of multiple labor violations against U.S. workers.  Among the corporations listed are Sodexo, Tesco, T-Mobile and DHL.  The alleged labor violations include discrimination, termination, threats of reprisal and intimidation of those employees who choose to unionize.  In one instance, T-Mobile is alleged to have "characterized 'talking about rights' by workers as dangerous activity to be reported immediately to management."  Arvind Ganesan, Director of Business & Human Rights at Human Rights Watch, stated that “Even self-proclaimed progressive companies can and do take full advantage of weak U.S. laws to stifle freedom of association."

The entire report is available here.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

HR Tech Companies To Duke It Out

The 13th annual HR Technology Conference & Exposition will be held in Chicago from September 29 - October 1, 2010.  Four vendors have been selected to participate in this year's "Shootout" event, designed to put HR software through the most stringent talent management scenarios: Saba, PeopleClick Authoria, HRsmart and Technomedia.

Cutting Expenses - But Not Benefits

Principal Financial Group has released a list of the 10 Best Companies for Employee Financial Security.  Winners are comprised of growing companies and organizations that demonstrate commitment to employees' financial well-being through their benefits, financial aid and health and wellness programs.  At a time when many companies are shrinking employee benefits to cut costs, these organizations have added to or enhanced their benefits packages.  The result?  Turnover rates that fall below the national average.  Increased productivity among staff.  The attraction and retention of qualified applicants.  “We were able to identify cost-cutting measures that did not involve our benefits, and we were able to continue to succeed from a business perspective, says Karen Rhodes, HR Director of Red River Credit Union (one of this year's winners.)  "Our commitment to our employees did not have to be mitigated in any way. They’re responsible for our success, so we feel committed to them mutually.”

Friday, September 3, 2010

Outsourcing Exit Interviews

Check out a great post from Sharlyn Lauby, the HR Bartender: "The Real Reason for Exit Interviews."  One point that I never considered is to assign a third party to conduct exit interviews.  I think this practice could really result in more meaningful information gained from departing employees, without any threats of reprisal looming over them. 

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

That Company You Applied To? It's Just Not That Into You.

I love the book "He's Just Not That Into You," by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo (the movie just didn't do it justice.)  It provides a no-nonsense, realistic approach to dating and relationships.  In re-reading parts of the book recently, I realized that certain key points of the book could also be applied to the employer/applicant relationship.  With job hunting (as with dating) many hours are often spent waiting by the phone, obsessing over that job interview (or date).  Why haven't they called?  Should I call them?  What does it mean?  Should I just move on?

"Don't waste the pretty!"  The book's authors advise (or in the case of a job seeker, don't waste the talent.)  Pretty frank advice, but true.  Consider several of their main points and how they relate to the applicant experience:  

1.  He's Just Not That Into You If He's Not Calling You.
Also true with employers.  They received your resume, trust me.  It could be that you don't have the qualifications they're seeking.  Maybe the company has received a million resumes and are still sorting through them.  Maybe they already have someone lined up for the job.  But if you don't receive a call for an interview relatively soon after submitting your resume, it's a pretty clear message: the company just isn't that into you.

3.  He's Just Not That Into You If He Doesn't Want to Marry You.
You've jumped through multiple hoops - the phone interview, several in-person interviews - and the feedback has been all positive!  And job offer.  It went to another candidate instead.  This can really sting, especially when all of your talents, work experience and values seemed to align perfectly with the company you're interviewing with.  The reasons for not landing a job offer vary, but the bottom line is, the organization just wasn't into you enough to offer you the position.

4.  He's Just Not That Into You If He's Breaking Up With You.
Whether you aren't selected for an interview, or ultimately not chosen for a position, most companies will call or email you a polite "thanks but no thanks" notice.  This is not the time to call the recruiter and "re-emphasize" all of your best qualities, or send back a terse reply, indicating your disapproval with their decision.  Rejections are really, really hard, and it's natural to want to respond.  But just like with dating, you cannot cajole your way out of a rejection, and you cannot change someone's mind.  Accept the decision and move on. Be classy.  There is a company out there that really wants to hire you.

5.  He's Just Not That Into You If He's Disappeared On You.
You aced the phone interview and several in-person interviews.  The company's recruiter said he would get back to you.  And then.....nothing.  No phone call, no email - not even a smoke signal.  While I don't agree with not following up with applicants regarding their status, some companies do just that.  You could follow up with a call of your own, but the message is still clear.  As the authors state, "No answer is your answer."  Don't ask yourself what you did wrong, or how you could have done it differently.  Next time you go for an interview that went smashingly well, and then never hear back from the recruiter, consider the thought that the company just might not be that into you.  And then free yourself to go find the company that is!

You can't control whether or not a company calls you back, or even calls at all.  What you can most quickly rectify is how long you stick around once you know that the company is just not that into you.  It's not bad news if it helps you free yourself to find a better opportunity.  As the book's authors remind us, "knowledge is power...more importantly, knowledge saves us time."

Jobseekers: Is Where You're Living Working Against You?


Labor and Employment lawyer George Lenard has published a Job Search Difficulty Index, per state, for August 2010.  The index is "expressed in terms of unemployed individuals per advertised job."  

Where does your state rank?