All posts by Michael J. O'Brien

Is the Bridge to Recovery Collapsing?

It’s been a long-held belief that a rise in the number of temporary workers hired usually precedes an economic recovery. And while it’s always good to see more Americans getting back to work (in whatever form they can manage), a troubling sign is emerging in the data, according to a new AP story:

“After the 1990-1991 recession, for instance, gains in temporary hiring starting in August 1991 led almost immediately to stepped-up permanent hiring. And after the 2001 recession, temporary hiring rose for three straight months in the summer of 2003. By September, employers were adding permanent jobs each month.”

Ahhh, those were the days, eh?

Fast-forward to this recession, however, and the full-time jobs just don’t seem to be following the temp jobs spike as they have in previous cycles:

“Employers added a net 52,000 temp jobs in January — the fourth consecutive month of gains. Over that time, total U.S. jobs shrank by 106,000. Employers have managed to boost productivity by squeezing more work out of their existing staffs.”

Is your organization focusing solely on temp workers until the recession is over? If so, what is your organization’s measuring stick to determine when that time is?

We, (and the rest of the American workforce) would love to hear from you!

Background Check, Anyone?

“Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me,” as the old saying goes.

And it now looks like 39-year-old Jennifer John may have made a fool of TV retailer QVC’s pre-hire screening procedures.

According to police, John, who has been held in prison in lieu of $100,000 bail since her Feb. 4 arrest, allegedly stole more than $200,000 worth of QVC merchandise when she worked in the West Chester (Pa.)-based company’s production studio between last November and mid-January of this year.

Police say she sold the ill-gotten goodies to a local pawn shop, which in turn raised the suspicions of state and local police.

But the story gets far worse from there, at least from QVC’s point of view:

“Meanwhile, Montgomery County prosecutors are attempting to revoke John’s $2,500 bail on a June 2009 case because of her recent arrest. John is alleged to have embezzled more than $250,000 from a Lower Merion real-estate-management company where she worked as an accounts-payable clerk from 2003 into 2008, according to police.

A QVC spokesperson declined to answer questions about the case or John, including how she came to be employed by the firm while awaiting trial on the theft charges.”

Sounds like QVC’s HR department is in for a round of tough questioning about its pre-hire screening processes.

Succession Problems Now a Fashion Issue?

The recent and unexpected death of noted fashion designer Alexander McQueen has left the fashion world stunned, none moreso than those who worked for McQueen’s label. This New York Times story takes a look at how other big-name fashion houses have fared after their creator died.

Admittedly, the fashion world is as different from the corporate world as a stiletto heel is to a flip-flop, but it does beg the HR question: Could your organization survive and thrive if its leader was to unexpectedly pass on without a succession plan in place?