Ruling means Mass. companies can’t fire workers for medical marijuana

Monday, July 31st, 2017 | Posted in Articles | 1 Comment »

Massachusetts companies cannot fire employees who have a prescription for medical marijuana simply because they use the drug, the state’s highest court ruled Monday, rejecting employers’ arguments that they could summarily enforce strict no-drug policies against such patients.

Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Ralph D. Gants said a California sales and marketing firm discriminated against an employee of its Massachusetts operation who uses marijuana to treat Crohn’s disease when it fired her for flunking a drug test.

In Massachusetts, Gants wrote, “the use and possession of medically prescribed marijuana by a qualifying patient is as lawful as the use and possession of any other prescribed medication.”

Therefore, he said, employers can’t use blanket anti-marijuana policies to dismiss workers whose doctors have prescribed the drug to treat their illnesses.

Instead, antidiscrimination laws require companies to attempt to negotiate a mutually acceptable arrangement with each medical marijuana patient they employ, such as exploring alternative medications or allowing use of the drug only outside of work hours.

The ruling overturned a lower court’s dismissal of a lawsuit against brought in 2015 by Cristina Barbuto of Brewster, who was fired by Advantage Sales and Marketing after just one day on the job because she tested positive for marijuana.

Barbuto said she told the company during interviews that she uses cannabis several nights a week — not before or during work hours — to treat her Crohn’s disease, a chronic inflammatory disorder that affects the digestive tract and can inhibit appetites.

She said the local hiring manager told her it would not be a problem, and that she was blindsided by her dismissal.

“I explained to them that I just used a very small amount before meals,” Barbuto said. “It wasn’t a ‘high’ feeling, it was just getting me hungry and doing what the doctor told me.”

Barbuto said she was thrilled by the ruling, and hoped it would help other patients who have been fired for using marijuana. It’s unclear how many workers have been dismissed under similar circumstances in Massachusetts.

Advantage Sales and Marketing had argued that Barbuto’s firing was justified because marijuana is illegal under federal law, and that permitting her to use it, even outside of work hours, exceeded the “reasonable accommodation” required by antidiscrimination laws.

Gants rejected that claim, writing that “the only person at risk of federal criminal prosecution for her possession of medical marijuana is the employee,” not the employer.

The firm also argued that Barbuto’s dismissal wasn’t discriminatory, because its anti-drug use policy was applied uniformly to all employees.

But the high court disagreed, with Gants writing that under Advantage’s logic, “a company that barred the use of insulin by its employees in accordance with a company policy would not be discriminating against diabetics because of their handicap, but would simply be implementing a company policy prohibiting the use of a medication.”

Firing an employee for violating such a rule, he continued, “effectively denies a handicapped employee the opportunity of a reasonable accommodation, and therefore is appropriately recognized as handicap discrimination.”

The court did dismiss two other claims brought by Barbuto, including that her firing violated the 2012 medical marijuana law.

An attorney for Advantage Sales and Marketing said the company was pleased two of the claims were dismissed, but “disappointed” at the court’s ruling on the discrimination claim.

“We have not yet had the opportunity to litigate the plaintiff’s remaining claim on the merits, but we are confident that our client acted in accordance with the law,” Michael Clarkson, the attorney, said in a statement. “We are weighing our options.”

The SJC sent the case back to a lower court, where Barbuto’s dismissal will be reviewed under the new parameters set out by the high court.

Advocates called the ruling long overdue, and said they expected that other medical marijuana patients who had been fired over their use of the drug would soon contest their dismissals.

“We are thrilled that the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts has ruled in favor of compassion for people that use medical marijuana for a range of debilitating conditions,” the Massachusetts Patient Advocacy Alliance, which sponsored the state’s successful 2012 medical marijuana ballot initiative, said in a prepared statement.

A business group that interceded in the case, however, said the ruling would especially hurt small companies that don’t have the resources or expertise to negotiate accommodations for marijuana patients.

“This is opening small business owners up to a ton of litigation,” said Karen Harned, the executive director of the National Federation of Independent Business Small Business Legal Center, which filed a brief in support of Advantage. “It’s making their lives harder because they can no longer have a clear drug-free-workplace policy.”

The decision doesn’t mean employers can never fire a patient for using marijuana medically; firms that contract with the federal government, for example, or where workers operate heavy machinery, could argue that accommodating their employees’ use of the drug constitutes an “undue hardship.”

But the ruling puts the burden on employers to prove they cannot accommodate medical marijuana patients because their cannabis use impairs their ability to do required work, endangers public safety, or otherwise demonstrably endangers the business, Gants wrote.

“Employers can still prevail,” said Chris Feudo, an attorney at Foley Hoag who represents companies in employment disputes.

“Employees aren’t entitled to the accommodation they want; they’re entitled to a reasonable accommodation — and sometimes, there isn’t one.”

Still, Feudo said, the ruling will have “really wide implications.”

Dan Adams can be reached at daniel.adams@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @Dan_Adams86.

Article Link

An Article We Wanted to Share: Tech Jobs

Monday, July 31st, 2017 | Posted in Articles | No Comments »

These 5 tech jobs are the hardest to fill at any organization

Looking for a new job in tech? These five positions are some of the most in-demand, according to a new Dice report.

As the world faces a tech talent shortage, recruiting and retaining employees in the field can be a challenge—especially for the most in-demand positions, according to a new report from tech career website Dice.

“Employers have to scour to find needle-in-the-haystack tech professionals; offer attractive salaries and do it all while competing with the company down the street looking to do the same,” Bob Melk, president of Dice, wrote in the report.

After surveying 708 hiring managers, Dice determined that five roles are above and beyond the most challenging to find employees in. “Nothing here is surprising, except that many of these positions have landed on our lists before, showing the problem has only grown over time as unemployment rates among tech pros shrink and every company hires tech talent to move the business forward,” Melk wrote in the report.

Here are the most difficult-to-fill tech jobs:

1. Software developers

This role may be broad, but it encompasses the tech professionals who can design and develop software solutions to address a company’s business needs, solve real-world problems, and fix bugs, the report noted. The work of software developers is very specific, and necessary to drive business innovation forward.

2. Java developers

Java is by far the most in-demand coding language, and there are a massive number of current job openings for those with this skillset. It is also becoming more broadly used in both front-end and back-end web development.

3. Security professionals

With ransomware attacks on the rise and news of major breaches of large organizations hitting headlines almost daily, many companies are hiring technology professionals with security experience to bolster their systems. “Companies are looking for a variety of pros including those who can identify risk areas and others who can react quickly in the event of a hack,” Melk wrote in the report.

4. DevOps engineer

DevOps engineers emerged as an important role in 2012, and demand for the position has greatly increased since then, as development and operations teams increasingly work together to improve productivity. “There was concern the position would eliminate the role of System Administrators all together, but that hasn’t happened and won’t for the foreseeable future,” Melk wrote in the report.

5. .Net experience

Microsoft’s established software framework continues to be in demand, and difficult to find workers to fill positions in. “Companies need tech pros with this experience who also understand the software development life cycle, deploy custom applications, and provide support once applications are in production,” Melk wrote in the report.

The takeaway for tech professionals with experience in any of these areas? “Use this challenging market to your advantage and negotiate to get the ideal job that provides a work/life balance, inspirational leadership, compensation and exciting challenges,” Melk wrote in the report.

 

About Alison DeNisco

Alison DeNisco is a Staff Writer for TechRepublic. She covers CXO and the convergence of tech and the workplace.

 

Article Link: http://www.techrepublic.com/article/these-5-tech-jobs-are-the-hardest-to-fill-at-any-organization/

Tech Job Interview Red Flags: 7 Things Great Candidates Never Do

Monday, June 26th, 2017 | Posted in Articles, Hiring Resources, Interviewing | No Comments »

Article from Inc.com We Wanted to Share:

Tech Job Interview Red Flags: 7 Things Great Candidates Never Do

If you assign a skills-based challenge during a tech interview, don’t just assess task completion. Also evaluate how the candidate behaves during the process.

Unlike a “standard” job interview, tech interviews can often be very different. Many include having the candidate complete a well-defined task. (Either before, as a qualifying assessment of skill, but also often as a formal part of the interview process itself.)

For example, the interviewer could give the candidate a list of numbers and ask for an algorithm that will find the smallest number in the most efficient way possible, and then ask the candidate to write code that generates the solution.

While the assessment approach can certainly help evaluate skill levels, testing also can reveal other things about the candidate — some of which are definite red flags.

The following is from Tigran Sloyan, CEO of CodeFights, the skills-based recruitment platform that provides coding challenges to help users improve coding skills and even land new jobs. (For companies, CodeFights helps identify skilled programmers and, with the individual involved’s permission, contact that person about a potential job.)

Here are seven red flags to watch for during a tech interview:

1. Lack of attention to the task description.

 If hired, the candidate who can’t follow instructions or has a problem understanding instructions correctly due to sloppiness will cost your organization in the future.

Candidates who are confused or unsure after reading the task description should ask questions and clarify issues as they appear.

2. Shutting down after getting stuck, instead of trying to talk through the problem or attempting alternate approaches.

The real-life engineering problems tend to be complex and not straight-forward. Great engineers also pioneer new way of solving technical problems. So, if a candidate demonstrate a tendency to give up easily when facing uncertainty or obstacles, this might not be the person you are looking for.

3. Sloppy and inconsistent coding style.

For example, using inconsistent formatting, lacking spacing and indentation, using unnecessarily terse variable names, or having code duplication.

This could be a potential disaster in a team environment, where other engineers on the team will need to understand this person’s codes to debug or to integrate to other codes. It also signals that this person does not have an adequate level of ‘attention to detail’ to do the job well.

4. Ignoring the interviewer’s suggestions and hints.

Some candidates will do what they think is correct, even if interviewer says the opposite. While you do want employees to push back at times, in a skill-based interview the goal is to assess specific skills, not necessarily to allow candidates to express their individuality.

Not paying attention to cues, much less direction, could be a sign that the candidate will not be not a great team player. If that’s what you need, working with that person might not turn out to be efficient or even enjoyable.

5. Not considering edge cases or inputs that might break their code.

This is an essential sanity-check step in writing professional codes. Candidates who stop short of completing this step are definitely waving red flags.

6. The candidate doesn’t know what your company does.

The fit between candidate and company is as important as the candidate’s skills in making a good hiring decision. If a particular candidate doesn’t really know what your company does, that means he or she is looking for a job, maybe any job… not a specific job at your company.

Successful members of teams are often people who are passionate about what the company does. A candidate who is not — and can’t even be bothered to find out if they might be — is not a candidate you want to hire.

7. The candidate can’t share a specific learning experience from a past mistake.

Everybody makes mistakes: Solid, experienced engineers, consummate professionals, novices… everyone. That’s a given.

What you want are employees who 1) are humble and mature enough to recognize when they make mistakes, and 2) are able to learn from their mistakes.

Smart people — and smart hiring managers — see mistakes as just another form of training.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.
PUBLISHED ON: JUN 26, 2017

Managing: How to groom a younger professional for leadership

Wednesday, June 14th, 2017 | Posted in Articles, Food for Thought | No Comments »

Here’s an article we wanted to share on grooming leadership and leaders:

Managing: How to groom a younger professional for leadership

Alice Waagen regularly answers workplace and management questions from readers.

Q. As a CEO of a mid-sized consulting firm, I am a firm believer in succession planning for my organization. I find having a pipeline of high potentials developed to take over key positions is critical to the health of my business.

That said, it is getting harder and harder to keep my pipeline of potentials full. I have a big demographic gap between my mid-career leaders and the bright up-and-coming younger professionals.

When I do see potential in a younger staff person, I find them resistant to the develop and wait approach I’ve used before. They basically want promotions then to learn as they go. This sounds like a recipe for disaster to me.

Alice Says: First of all, let me thank you for not using the “M” word (millennials) in your question but rather to couch it in more accurate terms: not birth year but employment lifecycle.

Impatience and arrogance are not owned by a birth-year group. They come with the territory of being young and full of yourself.

You are aptly describing a phenomenon I call “what worked before simply won’t work the same anymore.” In my professional youth, the best and brightest were labeled “high potentials” and shipped to three- to five-day leadership development workshops.

Once graduated, they were deemed ready and promoted into the managerial ranks. In hindsight, this did not even work well back then. Classroom theory is no substitute for real-world experience. Marry this with an age cohort that wants information just-in-time, on demand, preferably digital, and you can see how high the development disconnect can be.

Rather than rail against the values of the younger worker, I suggest leveraging their growth aspirations to meet your needs. Do this by shifting your concept of leadership development to ways that will appeal to and be effective for this group:

Challenge a cadre to curate the leadership wisdom of the web. Podcasts, Ted Talks and You Tube have created a vast library of leadership lore. Their task is to identify the pearls within a sea of dreck. Ask for two or three volunteers to share the nugget of the week: one web-based learning resource that can add to the collected leadership knowledge of the group. Ask them to lead a brief discussion group (live or virtual) about how this information can be used to improve effectiveness or efficiency in your organization. Experts call this “peer learning,”using buddies as knowledge sources.

Create informal mentoring relationships. Most corporate mentor programs fail from a weight of overbearing structure, i.e.: prescribing meeting times, lengthy discussion topics. Set up a fluid program where your top talent can approach anyone for advice and counsel but must focus their interaction on a specific inquiry: for example, how to be strategic when tactical demands weigh heavy. Let relationships grow organically rather than by fixed assignment.

Embrace virtual. Between telecommutes and altered work schedules, getting folks to be face-to-face is nearly impossible. Invest in collaboration tools, share sites and video technology and encourage learning to be on their time and interest.

As for the expectation of promotions, this is where you need to be loud and clear about opportunities. If you want a lean and agile organization not burdened by bureaucratic layers, don’t speak of vertical promotions.

Figure out other ways to recognize and deploy your talent than by fancy titles. Challenging job assignments, peers who are bright and willing to engage in tough dialogue, and organizations that are built on open feedback and encouragement are worth far more than the title and the big desk.

Alice Waagen is president of Workforce Learning, a leadership development company that since 1997 has provided executives with the skills and knowledge they need to build positive and productive businesses. Waagen has a passion for working with leaders to identify their successful leadership practices as well as to grow their knowledge and skills to increase their impact on the business. She consults with leadership teams to coach them into building better internal partnerships to achieve results

Article link to “Managing: How to groom a younger professional for leadership” from the Boston Business Journal 

Article We Wanted to Share: Next Ransomware Attack

Thursday, May 18th, 2017 | Posted in Articles | No Comments »

We wanted to share this Washington Post article about ransomware:

The next ransomware attack will be worse than WannaCry

We’ll need new security standards when hackers go after the Internet of Things.

May 16

Ransomware isn’t new, but it’s increasingly popular and profitable.

The concept is simple: Your computer gets infected with a virus that encrypts your files until you pay a ransom. It’s extortion taken to its networked extreme. The criminals provide step-by-step instructions on how to pay, sometimes even offering a help line for victims unsure how to buy bitcoin. The price is designed to be cheap enough for people to pay instead of giving up: a few hundred dollars in many cases. Those who design these systems know their market, and it’s a profitable one.

The ransomware that has affected systems in more than 150 countriesrecently, WannaCry, made press headlines last week, but it doesn’t seem to be more virulent or more expensive than other ransomware. This one has a particularly interesting pedigree: It’s based on a vulnerability developed by the National Security Agency that can be used against many versions of the Windows operating system. The NSA’s code was, in turn, stolen by an unknown hacker group called Shadow Brokers — widely believed by the security community to be the Russians — in 2014 and released to the public in April.

Microsoft patched the vulnerability a month earlier, presumably after being alerted by the NSA that the leak was imminent. But the vulnerability affected older versions of Windows that Microsoft no longer supports, and there are still many people and organizations that don’t regularly patch their systems. This allowed whoever wrote WannaCry — it could be anyone from a lone individual to an organized crime syndicate — to use it to infect computers and extort users.

The lessons for users are obvious: Keep your system patches up to date and regularly backup your data. This isn’t just good advice to defend against ransomware, but good advice in general. But it’s becoming obsolete.

Everything is becoming a computer. Your microwave is a computer that makes things hot. Your refrigerator is a computer that keeps things cold. Your car and television, the traffic lights and signals in your city and our national power grid are all computers. This is the much-hyped Internet of Things (IoT). It’s coming, and it’s coming faster than you might think. And as these devices connect to the Internet, they become vulnerable to ransomware and other computer threats.

It’s only a matter of time before people get messages on their car screens saying that the engine has been disabled and it will cost $200 in bitcoin to turn it back on. Or a similar message on their phones about their Internet-enabled door lock: Pay $100 if you want to get into your house tonight. Or pay far more if they want their embedded heart defibrillator to keep working.

This isn’t just theoretical. Researchers have already demonstrated a ransomware attack against smart thermostats, which may sound like a nuisance at first but can cause serious property damage if it’s cold enough outside. If the device under attack has no screen, you’ll get the message on the smartphone app you control it from.

Hackers don’t even have to come up with these ideas on their own; the government agencies whose code was stolen were already doing it. One of the leaked CIA attack tools targets Internet-enabled Samsung smart televisions.

Even worse, the usual solutions won’t work with these embedded systems. You have no way to back up your refrigerator’s software, and it’s unclear whether that solution would even work if an attack targets the functionality of the device rather than its stored data.

These devices will be around for a long time. Unlike our phones and computers, which we replace every few years, cars are expected to last at least a decade. We want our appliances to run for 20 years or more, our thermostats even longer.

What happens when the company that made our smart washing machine — or just the computer part — goes out of business, or otherwise decides that they can no longer support older models? WannaCry affected Windows versions as far back as XP, a version that Microsoft no longer supports. The company broke with policy and released a patch for those older systems, but it has both the engineering talent and the money to do so.

That won’t happen with low-cost IoT devices.

Those devices are built on the cheap, and the companies that make them don’t have the dedicated teams of security engineers ready to craft and distribute security patches. The economics of the IoT doesn’t allow for it. Even worse, many of these devices aren’t patchable. Remember last fall when the Murai botnet infected hundreds of thousands of Internet-enabled digital video recorders, webcams and other devices and launched a massive denial-of-service attack that resulted in a host of popular websites dropping off the Internet? Most of those devices couldn’t be fixed with new software once they were attacked. The way you update your DVR is to throw it away and buy a new one.

Solutions aren’t easy and they’re not pretty. The market is not going to fix this unaided. Security is a hard-to-evaluate feature against a possible future threat, and consumers have long rewarded companies that provide easy-to-compare features and a quick time-to-market at its expense. We need to assign liabilities to companies that write insecure software that harms people, and possibly even issue and enforce regulations that require companies to maintain software systems throughout their life cycle. We may need minimum security standards for critical IoT devices. And it would help if the NSA got more involved in securing our information infrastructure and less in keeping it vulnerable so the government can eavesdrop.

I know this all sounds politically impossible right now, but we simply cannot live in a future where everything — from the things we own to our nation’s infrastructure — can be held for ransom by criminals again and again.

 About the Author:
Bruce Schneier is a security technologist and a lecturer at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. His latest book is “Data and Goliath: The Hidden Battles to Collect Your Data and Control Your World.”

Follow @schneierblog

Article We Wanted to Share: Employers must use caution when basing pay decisions on prior salary history

Wednesday, May 17th, 2017 | Posted in Articles, Food for Thought, Hiring Resources, Industry News | No Comments »

Here’s an article we wanted to share:

Employers must use caution when basing pay decisions on prior salary history

Imagine a scenario where an employer hires two individuals – a male and female – to fill two identical jobs (i.e., same job qualifications and same job duties). Both individuals satisfy the educational, skill and other technical requirements for the job and they have similar employment histories.

However, at their prior places of employment, one individual earned $50,000 at his/her prior place of employment, while the other earned $60,000. The employer agrees to hire both individuals at 10% more than their prior salaries. Thus, the starting pay for one hire is $55,000 while the starting pay for the other is $66,000, leading to a pay differential of $11,000 (20%) during the first year of employment.

The two individuals eventually learn about the difference in pay and the lower-paid employee questions whether the starting pay differential is legally permissible.

This question is at the heart of a current Department of Labor – Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs investigation into compensation practices. According to OFCCP’s investigators, during an onsite audit of the subject company’s California headquarters, a company representative stated that the business asks prospective hires about their most recent salaries and then offers up to 20% more when setting starting pay.

As a result of these alleged statements and alleged preliminary indicators of potential gender-based pay disparities, the OFCCP is seeking information regarding 2014 salaries, as well as several years of salary history information, for approximately 20,000 employees. The company denies that there are any gender-based pay disparities with respect to employees performing the same job and thus far has refused to turn over the requested information.

While litigation in this matter is ongoing, employers should be aware that both the OFCCP and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission take the position that, in light of historical societal differences in pay based on gender and race, Executive Order 11246, Title VII, and the Equal Pay Act prohibit employers from justifying differences in pay based solely on salary history.

Further, decisions from the federal courts on this issues are mixed, with courts in the Seventh, Ninth, and Eighth Circuits allowing employers to rely on prior pay as a defense in certain circumstances and courts in the Fifth, Tenth, and Eleventh Circuit rejecting the use of salary history as a defense to allegations of discrimination.

Finally, in an effort to reduce the reliance on salary history as a justification for differences in pay, multiple jurisdictions – namely California, Massachusetts, New Orleans, New York (limited to state agencies), New York City, Philadelphia, and Puerto Rico – have passed laws that prohibit employers from using prior pay as a defense to discrimination. And, in some cases, these laws even prohibit employers from asking about salary history altogether. In addition, Connecticut, Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Washington D.C. are contemplating similar laws.

With this in mind, employers should be mindful of the risks of relying on prior salary history as a lone or significant factor in setting pay and should avoid consideration of prior salary history in those locations with prohibitions on questioning or using prior salary history in making pay decisions. Where prior salary history is used as a factor for pay decisions, employers should take the following steps to have the best defense to claims of discrimination:

· Ensure that compensation policies and practices comply with the law in all applicable jurisdictions;
· Avoid reliance on salary history alone when establishing starting pay;
· Document all factors that contribute to an initial pay determination including, but not limited to, educational history, degree, prior employment experience, special skills and expertise, individual candidate negotiations, market factors, and other position-specific factors;
· Document how each factor contributed to pay and the specific reasons for the rate of pay chosen;
· Periodically evaluate whether initial differences in pay should be reduced over time when employees have substantially similar job duties and responsibilities;
· Conduct regular, privileged compensation analyses to assess pay equity and ensure non-discriminatory treatment; and
· Consult with legal counsel regarding any questions or concerns.

This article originally appeared on the Foley & Lardner website. The information in this legal alert is for educational purposes only and should not be taken as specific legal advice.

Carmen N. Couden

Carmen N. Couden

Carmen N. Couden is a partner and litigation attorney with Foley & Lardner LLP.

Article: The 4 Things Employees Want That Employers Aren’t Giving Them

Monday, April 24th, 2017 | Posted in Articles, Food for Thought | No Comments »

Here’s an article from Tech.Co we wanted to share:

The 4 Things Employees Want That Employers Aren’t Giving Them

March 2, 2017

In the world of employee retention, two things matter: What employees want out of their job, and what the job is offering them. In the end, an extra pool table or snack bar won’t matter if the employees feel that they aren’t being listened to. That’s why a recent report is so interesting: It covers the four most likely gaps between what the workers want and what the company offers.

The international research report, a collaboration between Universum, INSEAD Emerging Markets Institute, The HEAD Foundation and MIT Leadership Center, relies on 18,337 individual responses from 19 countries worldwide that had statistically relevant sample sizes. Here’s what they found.

1: Digital Capabilities

Plenty of working professionals say that a company’s digital capabilities are important. But less than half think that their employers are measuring up to their standards. Ironically, part of the problem is the workplace’s attempt to quickly add new technologies, the study explains:

“More and more, employees expect work applications to function as effortlessly and effectively as the applications they use in their personal lives. To live up to this, companies are adopting new, specialized technologies at breakneck speed, leading to  sizeable integration issues. The problem is particularly bad for workforce-facing applications  (e.g. project management, messaging, time management, calendaring), many of which don’t speak to one another and share information.”

2: Virtual Reality

“Just three percent of working professionals currently use any type of VR applications in the workplace, but one in three say it’s poised to revolutionize their work in the coming decade. “

All generations in the study except the Gen X respondents — older Gen Y, younger Gen Y, and Gen Z — said that they were anticipating the arrival of VR the most. Gen Xers prefers elearning programs by a slim margin. No word on the popularity of VR elearning programs.

They may have a few years to wait.

3: A Flexible Workforce

“In San Jose,” research from the Brookings Institute shows, “gig work in ground transportation rose by 145 percent in two years.4 The rise of the sharing economy (e.g. Uber, Airbnb, TaskRabbit), and a parallel growth in technologies that support freelance work, means traditional, sit-at-your-desk work may not be the norm much longer when it comes to freelance work.”

Younger generations are more likely to be considering starting their own company to work on their terms, and freelancers are bigger than ever. Companies can’t offer a flexible schedule fast enough.

4: Training and Development

One big myth that companies should get over: Younger generations of workers don’t want online courses over in-person training.

“Stop assuming that younger generations prefer online training options,” the study says. “It’s a finding that’s often repeated, but Universum’s research doesn’t support the claim. All generations prefer in-person training over online options.”

But training programs need to be tweaked: Global companies, for example, spent an estimated $356 billion as of 2015, but studies have revealed that a quarter of the time, employee performance isn’t improved, and a 2011 study even indicated 90 percent of new skills were lost within a year.

There’s no easy answer to this one: Companies must simply re-evaluate their training courses with their specific employee demographic in mind.

In Short: The Nature of Work Is Changing

The impact of all these results is summed up in a quote provided by Vinika D. Rao, the Executive Director of INSEAD Emerging Markets Institute, who says:

“Given the rapid pace of change in workplace technology – from cloud-based collaboration tools and workplace messaging platforms to newer technologies like wearables – it’s clear the nature of work in 10 years will be vastly different from what we experience today.”

If companies hope to stay aware of their employees’ needs, they should check in on the above four areas.

Article from Tech.Co

 

Article:Massachusetts Just Banned Companies From Asking Job Applicants How Much They Make

Monday, April 24th, 2017 | Posted in Articles, Food for Thought | No Comments »

Here’s an article we wanted to share:

Massachusetts Just Banned Companies From Asking Job Applicants How Much They Make

When it comes to negotiating salaries, employers tend to have some built-in advantages over workers—namely, they know more. Companies spend lots of money on consultants who can tell them the market rate for, say, an accountant or database manager. They can ask job applicants about their previous salaries. They often discourage staff from discussing their pay among themselves, even when doing so might violate the law, making it tough for Cathy in marketing to figure out whether the guy two cubicles down really makes more than her.

Jordan WeissmannJORDAN WEISSMANN

Jordan Weissmann is Slate’s senior business and economics correspondent.

You and me? We can go on sites like PayScale or Glassdoor to try and figure out our worth. We can talk with friends in the industry. But, when it comes time to haggle, the end result is almost always a case of asymmetric information.

This week, Massachusetts enacted a new law that could even the playing field a bit, by barring employers from asking job applicants about their salary history. Prospective hires can still choose to tell companies how much they earn. But no longer will residents of the Bay State be forced to fudge their pay by a few grand every time they fill out a job form; they can just leave the HR department in the dark and force corporate to make a decent offer.

Massachusetts is the first state to pass such a rule. Primarily, the statute is designed to help close the wage gap between men and women, the logic being that if women fall behind on salary early in their career, whether because of discrimination or motherhood or shyness about asking for a raise, the new law will keep it from penalizing them when they move on to a new job. That said, the rule could help anybody who started off their working life on a slightly weak foot, and might cut down on the role of luck a bit in what both men and women make over time. People who graduate into a recession, for instance, tend to earn lower salaries for years after the economy has recovered, mostly because they picked the wrong moment to go out for their first job; the Massachusetts law might make it easier to make up for that kind of early disadvantage.

 

Article from Slate.com

http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2016/08/02/massachusetts_bans_companies_from_asking_job_applicants_how_much_they_make.html 

 

Do You Know How to Manage Time?

Wednesday, April 19th, 2017 | Posted in Articles, Food for Thought | No Comments »

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It seems like every year there is less and less time in the day. While that isn’t actually true, we all have more distractions than ever. Yes, our smartphones can be wonderful and sometimes help us be more productive, the constant connectedness to email, social media, and the internet can be incredibly distracting. Having everything readily available on your smartphone can be fantastic, but not if you go into a “blackhole” and before you know it you have been “surfing” on your smartphone for 30 minutes. Entrepreneur Magazine online recently shared some great advice on how to manage time in an effective manner.

According to the article, “Before you can even begin to manage time, you must learn what time is. A dictionary defines time as ‘the point or period at which things occur.’ Put simply, time is when stuff happens.” The definition of time is helpful because it points out that things occur over time. But, how do we measure time so that our measurement of time includes activity? It does seem to hard to measure time, but the article goes on further to explain the types of time and how time can be measured to include activities. The article states that, “There are two types of time: clock time and real time. In clock time, there are 60 seconds in a minute, 60 minutes in an hour, 24 hours in a day and 365 days in a year. All time passes equally. When someone turns 50, they are exactly 50 years old, no more or no less.” The article then goes on to explain that: “In real time, all time is relative. Time flies or drags depending on what you’re doing.” When explaining real time, a key example from the article shows that with real time, all time is relative: “Two hours at the department of motor vehicles can feel like 12 years.”

We all live in real time. Even though we all have alarm clocks and watches and more, we don’t live in clock time. We live in real time, where time flies and drags depending on the activity and the level of enjoyment. So, it is clear that we live in real time. Whether you like it or not, we live in real time. Luckily, though, real time is mental. Real time can be managed based on attitude and outlook. Since we create real time, we can manage it, and this means we have control over how real time will affect us. The article explains that we must “remove any self-limitation” when it comes to real time and “not having enough time”, and this means that we must manage our time by choosing how to spend it.

There are three ways to spend time that matter according to the article: 

  1. Thoughts
  2. Conversations
  3. Actions

Real time and work are directly impacted by thoughts, conversations, and actions. Our work is impacted by thoughts we have at work, conversations we have at work, and actions we take at work. It may seem hard to manage our real time as it either flies or drags on, but there are steps we can all take to ensure we manage our time and get our work done while also living and enjoying life. Here are some steps to take to master real time:

  • Carry a schedule and track thoughts, conversations and activities for a week in order to realize how much time certain activities take and once tracked, activities and the time commitment of activities will be clear and thus allow for planning in future
  • Assign a specific time to activities or conversations that are important to your success. It is essential that times are set on schedule to allow for high-priority activities. Be disciplined about scheduling activity time.
  • Plan to spend at least 50 percent of your time on thoughts, activities and conversations that yield results.
  • Allow for interruptions and schedule time for these interruptions.
  • Take the first 30 minutes of every day to plan the day’s activities
  • Take 5 minutes before every call or meeting or task to make sure you decide what you wish to accomplish
  • Block out social media and distractions and don’t allow Facebook and social tools to distract you from goals for the day
  • Remember! Sometimes there just isn’t enough time in the day! It’s impossible to get everything done sometimes, so remember that results require patience and time management.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HRE Article: Telecommuting Trends

Monday, March 20th, 2017 | Posted in Articles | No Comments »

Here is an article we wanted to share:

Trends in Telecommuting

While the concept of telecommuting has seen its ebbs and flows, experts say the benefits to both employers and employees remain steady. But research finds there is a price to be paid for the ability to work outside the office.

By Maura C. Ciccarelli

Thursday, March 2, 2017

This year’s Telecommuter Appreciation Week coincides with the birth of Alexander Graham Bell, born on March 3, 1847, who would most likely be proud of — and perhaps surprised by — how his invention revolutionized the way the world works.

Without the telephone and all the technology that developed from it, millions of employees today wouldn’t be able to save countless hours of commuting time and expense while gaining scheduling flexibility and greater productivity by working from their homes on a part-time or full-time basis.

Whether you call it telecommuting, remote work, mobile work or distributed work, these flexible-work arrangements are here to stay, with an estimated 20 percent to 25 percent of U.S. employees telecommuting at least once each year, says Kate Lister, president of Global Workplace Analytics, a San Diego-based consulting firm that specializes in flexible-workplace strategies.

About 2.9 percent of U.S. workers (3.9 million people) consider the home a primary place of work, according to The State of Telework in the U.S., a report written by Lister’s firm.

The report, which will be released later this spring, analyzes data collected by the U.S. Census Bureau through their 2015 American Community Survey and paints a detailed picture of who is telecommuting. For example, a greater proportion of older employees telecommute relative to total population — 50.3 percent of people over age 45, compared to 41.3 percent of the total workforce. Fifty percent of women and 48.5 percent of men telecommute.

Among the other findings:

* Teleworkers are more educated than non-telecommuters — 53 percent have a bachelor’s degree or higher and 72 percent have some college or higher).

* Jobs with the highest telecommuting rate (half time or more) include computer and mathematical occupations (8.2 percent), military-specific occupations (7.2 percent) and arts, design, entertainment, sports and media occupations (5.9 percent).

Global Workplace Analytics also calculated that 56 percent of all jobs are telework-compatible. If 85 percent of people in those jobs wished to telecommute at least some of the time, the collective savings would total over $750 billion a year nationally.

That’s the equivalent of a typical company saving nearly $12,000 per year for each half-time telecommuter as the result of reduced real estate, absenteeism and turnover costs, as well as increased productivity.

Lister also calculated that individuals could save between $2,500 and $6,000 a year, as well as the equivalent of more than 11 days they’d have otherwise have spent in traffic.

The sweet spot for both real-estate savings and work innovation, Lister says, is in the two- to three-days-a-week range, with “the home becoming a place of concentration and work the place for collaboration.”

For companies such as computer maker Dell, it was the bottom line impact on real-estate costs as well as their strategic sustainability targets that made the company formalize its telecommuting policies on a country-by-country basis starting in 2009. It’s HR and facilities operations found that some locations were operating at only 30-40 percent capacity.

By expanding their informal telecommuting policies throughout the entire company, today more than 20,000 of Dell’s 100,000 employees worldwide work from their homes anywhere from one to five days a week, says Mohammed Chahdi, global human resource services director for Dell, based in Toronto. The goal for 2020, he says, is to raise that number to a full 50 percent.

“Work flexibility became the ideal solution,” Chahdi says. “We could reduce overall real-estate cost without having any impact on employees with respect to closing a site and affecting roles happening within that location.”

According to Dell’s sustainability goals listed in its “Legacy of Good 2020” plan, the average Dell employee works remote 9.7 times per month, saving more than $12 million in fuel costs per year, avoiding 36 million miles of travel per year, and not contributing more than 35,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere each year.

In addition, Dell has been tracking improved employee engagement, satisfaction and productivity scores as well as customer-satisfaction metrics, Chahdi adds.

Indeed, companies get increased productivity spikes of between 15 percent and 55 percent among telecommuters, Lister says. There’s also a decline in absenteeism.

Ravin Jesuthasan, managing director at Willis Towers Watson, based in Chicago, says there are talent attraction and retention benefits to telecommuting programs.

“If you have uncompetitive workforce flexibility practices,” he says, “it can get in the way of workforce recruiting and retaining talent.”

As a result of this increased focus on job flexibility, Jesuthasan says, teleworking has been increasing in popularity and even morphing into other flexible work-style approaches such as part-time teleworking jobs, hoteling (having non-dedicated workspaces for when teleworkers come to the office) and even sabbaticals, all of which build on the broader theme of job flexibility.

While there are benefits for employees, one study suggests telecommuting’s tradeoff for employees: a smaller paycheck. Mary Noonan, associate professor in sociology at the University of Iowa, along with Jennifer L. Glass of the University of Texas Austin, authored a study called “Telecommuting and Earnings Trajectories Among American Women and Men 1989–2008.”

The study was based on a long-running U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics national survey of American workers with a standard 40-hour workweek. It found that those who opted to work at least part of the time away from the office ended up working an average of three hours more per week, which encroached on home and family time.

The sociologists also found that both salaried telecommuters and traditional office workers received an $8-9 per hour increase in weekly pay for a standard 40-hour workweek. However, for additional hour worked over 40, telecommuters saw a weekly pay increase of $3 per hour, compared to $6.50 for on-site workers.

“It’s one of the unintended negative consequences of telecommuting,” Noonan says. “I don’t know if people are aware that they are trading home work time for lower wage growth.”

Lister says 40 percent of people in her company’s study said they would give up some pay for the opportunity to work remotely, while 12 percent to15 percent said they wouldn’t want to do it.

One positive result of Noonan’s study was that women did not see a decrease in earnings by working from home. And, despite commonly held assumptions, parents were not more likely to telecommute, which could have something to do with interruptions when the kids get home, despite the closed home office door, she says.

As for the reasons why companies say they don’t want to offer telecommuting flexibility, she says mistrust of employees doing their work at home is the largest impediment for managers to overcome, and one that is more emotional or related to the managers’ work styles than with the employees’ abilities to work remotely. She often quotes a federal agency administrator who says people would ask her, “How can I manage them if I don’t see them?” to which she would reply, “Telecommuting doesn’t create management problems; it reveals them.”

Dell managers get training to think creatively about how to remain engaged with remote workers, Chahdi says. “In reality, even if you can see them you don’t really know they are working. However, you will always know that they’re working if they are delivering for you and hitting their metrics.”

One person who has seen the trend of telecommuting go up and down over the years is Chuck Wilsker, president, CEO and co-founder of The Telework Coalition, a Washington-based nonprofit association.

He says companies need to find creative ways to build team relationships among far-flung members by using technology such as video conferencing, intranet sites and collaboration applications that allow teams to share files, calls and text messages through a single interface.

Wilsker remains a staunch advocate of flexible work approaches because, he says, it just makes sense for some jobs:

“If you work on a computer and a phone all day long, do you really have to go somewhere else if you can do it at home?”

Send questions or comments about this story to hreletters@lrp.com.