All posts by Michael J. O'Brien

Tanks for the Memories

Fort Knox–long known as the Army’s symbol of strength and impenetrability–has formally changed over from the home of the U.S. Army’s tank warfare division to its new role as headquarters for the Army’s recruiting, training and human resources functions.

From the Louisville (Ky.) Courier-Journal:

Base leaders on Thursday cut the ribbon on the 883,000-square-foot, $210 million Human Resources building, known as the Maude Complex, so large it can accommodate nearly 4,000 workers who will be responsible for soldiers from recruitment to health benefits and retirement.

“Today the torch passes,” said Lt. Gen. Benjamin Freakley, Fort Knox’s new top commander, who argued that the base’s importance wouldn’t diminish under its new motto: “Strong Starts Here.”

On the Clock: Men vs. Women

The New York Times Economix blog has an interesting post and graph this morning that takes a look at the composition of the American workforce by time of day.

In the post, Casey B. Mulligan, an economics professor at the University of Chicago, posits that one of the reasons women are typically paid less than men is because women work more “desirable schedules.”

According to Mulligan:

“The vast majority of workers perceive work from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. to be more desirable than work during the off-hours, and many of the off-hours workers are compensated with higher pay for the less desirable schedule. A variety of factors — including, some economists and many women’s rights advocates say, gender discrimination — may cause women to be paid less than men, but part of the reason may be the hours they choose to work.”

A Real HR Nightmare

Nine suicides have occurred — so far — this year at a manufacturing plant in China, which provides electronics components for some well-known brands of computers, and the affected company is taking some drastic actions, but not necessarily what you’d expect.

According to the New York Times:

“Company executives say Foxconn is planning to hire psychiatrists, counselors and monks, and intends to bring in 2,000 singers, dancers and gym trainers to improve life on its two sprawling campuses in Shenzhen.

“China’s state-run news media also reported Tuesday that Foxconn was building tall fences at its dormitories to prevent workers from jumping to their deaths.”

So apparently the Chinese attempt at amelioration is to bring in singers and dancers and build tall fences.

One wonders just how different an American company’s response to such a horrific event would be. In fact, has this sort of phenomenon ever happened at an American company before? 


HR’s Destructive Side?

Former HR executive Liz Ryan sounds off in Business Week on the five most destructive HR policies of the land, and seemingly nothing is safe from her wrath.

On restrictive time-off policies: “Employers who can’t flex in small ways to accomodate carbon-based life forms don’t deserve their talents.”

On manager-driven in-house transfer policies: “It lets employees know that if they can’t trust their boss to look out for their interests when an appealing job in the company is available, their best bet is to bail on the organization entirely.”

An interesting read, to be sure, but is it a fair assessment of the HR function?