Category Archives: HR profession

A Goodbye to Bosses at Zappos

manager exitIn a matter of days, Zappos will officially say so long to hierarchy, and say hello to Holacracy.

As of April 30, “people managers” will be a thing of the past for the Las Vegas-based online shoe and clothing retailer, according to a recent memo sent from CEO Tony Hsieh to all Zappos employees.

In that same memo, Hsieh outlines the Holacracy system, which he says removes traditional managerial pecking orders, allowing employees to self-organize “to complete work in a way that increases productivity, fosters innovation and empowers anyone in the company with the ability to make decisions that push the company forward.”

Hsieh also lamented not making “fast enough progress toward self-management, self-organization and more efficient structures to run our business,” announcing that Zappos would be taking a “rip the Band-Aid approach” to accelerating the full implementation of Holacracy, a concept the company first adopted in 2013.

Over the next few months, Hsieh plans to minimize service provider groups and lean more toward creating “self-organizing and self-managing business-centric groups,” and will begin the process of breaking down the organization’s silo-like structure of merchandising, finance, marketing and other functions.

All that said, the company will still have room for those who are giving up their manager positions, says Hsieh, who acknowledged the “absolutely necessary and valuable” role these leaders have played in aiding Zappos’ growth to this point.

He also expressed his eagerness to see “what new exciting contributions will come from the employees who were previously managers,” noting that these soon-to-be former supervisors will have opportunities to find new roles within Zappos “that might be a good match for their passions, skills and experience.”

In addition, all former managers who remain in good standing will keep their salaries through the end of 2015, “even though their day-to-day work that formerly involved more traditional management will need to change,” according to the memo.

It’s fair to say that adopting this kind of model is unorthodox. But it becomes a much less unusual move when you consider who’s making it.

This is, after all, the same organization that eliminated traditional online job postings and created Zappos Insiders, a social network where job seekers can sign up to schmooze with the company’s employees, participate in contests and chat directly with recruiters.

And, Zappos has famously offered workers financial incentives to leave the company, as a way to ferret out those who were sticking around strictly for the paycheck.

While Hsieh and Zappos have often been lauded for flouting the conventional, other firms have largely avoided following the company out on such limbs.

The Holacracy concept does have its proponents, however, with Twitter co-founder Evan Williams implementing the system at his new company, Medium, for instance. Whole Foods CEO John Mackey did the same at non-profit Conscious Capitalism Inc.

It’s not easy to envision that list getting significantly longer anytime soon. But, as was the case with telecommuting, dress-down Fridays and every other workplace development that once seemed like a radical idea, someone had to be the first to try it.

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Upbeat Hiring News for 2015 Grads

There may be some early excitement on the nation’s college campuses this spring after SHRM released its Hiring of 2015 College Graduates Survey which shows that, while compensation levels may be holding steady for the newest entrants in the workforce, 35 percent of organizations have already hired college students to begin working before or after their 2015 graduation.

But even for soon-to-be grads who have yet to secure employment, there is also hope in the survey, as almost two-thirds of organizations (65 percent) have not yet hired 2015 college graduates. Of these organizations, the majority (71 percent) still plan to hire graduates, an 18 percent increase since 2013.

“During the recession, many companies may not have focused recruiting efforts on college graduates because of a lack of openings and limited turnover. But now we are beginning to see entry-level hiring pick up,” said Evren Esen, director of survey programs at SHRM. “Compared to recent years, 2015 college graduates can be optimistic in their job search.”

Not to brag, but Editor David Shadovitz wrote about the upturn in grad hiring last December on HREOnline.com.

In that piece, Shadovitz discussed with Philip Gardner, director of Michigan State University’s College Employment Research Institute in East Lansing, Mich., how the upturn in hiring could affect employers’ college-recruiting efforts:

“The last couple of years,” Gardner says, “they were able to finish recruiting [by October] and didn’t have to do a lot of work in the spring, but that’s changing. Now, they’re going deeper and deeper into the [college] year and are starting to see reneges going up.”

And with more good news on the college hiring front likely on the way (shaking an angry fist at embargoed material), this should serve as a good reminder to HR organizations to keep their top college recruits in the loop as much as possible.

To ensure these candidates don’t “drift away,” Gardner advises employers to pay much closer attention to “staying in touch” with them once offers are made and “involve them in the [business] sooner.”

And judging from this SHRM survey’s 35-percent figure cited above, it seems that getting “involved in the business” early is also becoming more important for both college students and grads.

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Google’s ‘Mobilegeddon’ Comes Tomorrow!

It’s hard to say exactly what’s all in store for employers when Google unleashes its massive search-algorithm update tomorrow, but from 178976393 -- mobile technologythe buzz out there about it, sounds like everyone will be impacted.

For the record, here is Google’s official announcement on its site about its new mobile-friendly-ranking system starting April 21 — complete with a helpful guide toward making your website mobile-friendly. Though … in all honesty, of course … if you haven’t started this yet, you will definitely be behind the eight ball when it comes to website user-ability and “bites.”

In short, Google’s algorithm change is tailored to favor sites suitably optimized for mobile use by increasing the search engine’s emphasis on mobile-usability as a ranking factor.

In super short, if you are not a mobile-friendly site, ranked thusly by Google (mind you, the company is not exactly forthcoming about how this will be measured), you run the risk of getting bumped down in search-result stacking.

Advice out there for employers is a bit scanty, since this is posting a day before update launch, but I did find this piece from iCIMS, stressing just how imperative it is for all career sites to take this mobile-friendly ranking — and mobile-friendliness altogether — very seriously. It quotes Chuck Price, founder of Measurable SEO:

“Because you don’t have a mobile-optimized site, you’re going to get bumped down from position one or two to the third page, and suddenly you’ve lost all of your organic traffic. That’s a big deal.”

Perhaps the best analysis of what this update means comes from this recent piece by Jayson DeMers on the Forbes site. In it, he makes no bones about its potential impact:

“The search giant seems to make near-constant updates to its search protocols. You’d be forgiven for thinking that this upcoming April 21st update is something like the last few we’ve seen—a data refresh or some small tweak that leads to almost imperceptible changes in search rankings for only a handful of businesses.

“Unfortunately for currently non-optimized businesses, this doesn’t appear to be the case. With one of Google’s own recently explaining that this latest algorithm rollout is set to have a bigger impact than either Panda or Penguin, and considering Panda and Penguin are the biggest algorithm updates we’ve ever seen from Google, this new mobile update could completely change how we look at search.”

This, from Search Engine Watch, lays out many particulars all companies should keep in mind when it comes to mobile-friendly modifications you should have made by now, but better late than never. I especially like its reference to “Mobilegeddon.”

Kind of says it all.

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Moving in the Right Direction

Yesterday, I was able to get an early look at the findings of The Hackett Group’s latest study on HR budgets and trends.

ThinkstockPhotos-166114849While there weren’t many huge surprises in the report, titled “The HR Agenda for 2015: Major Transformation Efforts Are Planned to Close the Gaps in HR Capabilities,” there definitely were a few data points to reflect on. (The study can be downloaded today with registration.)

As far as budgets are concerned, the study—based on research involving executives from more than 170 large companies in the United States and abroad—found that HR organizations, for the first time in a while, should experience marginal increases in both staff levels and budgets in 2015. Specifically, budgets are expected to rise 1.4 percent and staff grow by 1.5 percent—no doubt a reflection of a relatively healthy economy and the growing awareness among business leaders of the importance of talent strategies and practices.

The report, however, also points out that the increases are far from universal. Only 40 percent of the companies in the study actually expect to see budget increases, with just under 30 percent saying the same for staff levels. Further, just over 30 percent still expect to see declines in budgets and full-time employees, with the remainder expecting no change.

Of course, it’s good to see things move in the right direction, but as the Hackett report suggests, even more important will be what HR organizations do with the extra dollars and staff. In their report, the experts at Hackett suggest many HR organizations are largely unprepared to help improve enterprise agility and address those issues most relevant to achieving business objectives, including workforce strategy, innovation and talent management.

When I asked Hackett’s Global HR Practice Leader Harry Osle to elaborate on how world-class organizations differ from others when it comes to addressing these issues, he said, “they’re continually looking for ways to optimize their HR organizations.”

More specifically, he said, three characteristics come to mind when you look at world-class organizations. “First, these companies continue to look at process optimization … and look for ways to [eliminate] slack in the system.”

Next, he explained, they have a sharp focus on talent management and a hunger for finding and keeping the best talent, and making that talent more productive.

And finally, they have a strong commitment to digitization and technology. “That means,” Osle said, “having the right data at the right time to make the critical analytical decisions that organizations have to make today.”

The study found that the best-prepared HR organizations are clearly committed to making digital transformation and the utilization of cloud-based technologies a reality. Roughly 70 percent of the best-prepared HR organizations view the development of an HR digital-transformation strategy a high priority, compared to 25 percent of typical HR organizations. For cloud-based HR solutions, the gap is smaller, but still significant, with 50 percent of the best-prepared HR organizations considering it a high priority, compared to 40 percent of typical HR organizations.

As Osle explained, investing in technology in the cloud and SaaS is an easy decision to make when you consider the cost savings—and efficiency and effectiveness improvements—it can result in.

Osle predicted a substantial amount of the budget increases will likely be targeted to HR technologies. (Assuming he’s right, I would have to think this fall’s HR Technology Conference and Exposition® in Las Vegas will be a pretty lively event.)

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$70,000: The New Minimum Wage

By now, you’ve likely heard of Gravity Payments’ CEO and Founder Dan Price, who set off the latest salvo in the wage wars when he told his 120-person staff that he would raise the salary of even the lowest-paid clerk over the next three years to a minimum of $70,000.

According to the New York Times‘ piece, Price, who started the Seattle credit-card-payment processing firm in 2004 at age 19, said he would pay for the wage increases by cutting his own salary from nearly $1 million to $70,000 and using 75 percent to 80 percent of the company’s anticipated $2.2 million in profit this year.

The paychecks of about 70 Gravity workers will grow, with 30 ultimately doubling their salaries, according to Ryan Pirkle, a company spokesman. The average salary is $48,000 a year.

While Price’s audacious move may not have many companies following in its path, it at least speaks to an economic issue that has captured national attention in the years since the recession: The disparity between the soaring pay of chief executives and that of their employees.

 Indeed, in an essay published recently by Politico Magazine, venture capitalist Nick Hanauer warned that the widening income gap in the United States would eventually spark a violent revolution:

“No society can sustain this kind of rising inequality. In fact, there is no example in human history where wealth accumulated like this and the pitchforks didn’t eventually come out.”

But, according to the Huffington Post,  rather than see this as a charitable offer to his workers, Price sees the pay raises as an investment. In theory, workers motivated by higher salaries will ultimately attract more business and handle clients better.

“This is a capitalist solution to a social problem,” Price said. “I think it pays for itself, I really do.”

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Increased Skepticism Around EEOC Claims?

lawsuitAccording to at least one attorney, a recent Sixth Circuit appeals court ruling in a disability discrimination case underscores the federal courts’ increasingly cynical view of EEOC claims.

An overview of what led to the April 10 decision in EEOC v. Ford Motor Co.:

Jane Harris, a now-former Ford employee with irritable bowel syndrome, sought a job schedule of her choosing, which would allow her to work from home as needed, up to four days a week. Ford denied her request, determining that “regular and predictable on-site attendance” was essential to Harris’s “highly interactive” job as a resale buyer with the company.

Early in her career with Ford, Harris—who joined the automaker in 2003—earned awards and accolades for what court documents describe as her “strong commodity of knowledge” and “diligent work effort.” Her performance soon deteriorated, however, and by her fifth full year with the company, Harris ranked in the bottom 10 percent of her peer group within Ford. By 2009, her last year with the organization, she “was not performing the basic functions of her position,” according to court records.

In addition, Harris missed an average of 1.5 work days per week in 2008, and frequently arrived at work late and left early, court records indicate.

Harris’ irritable bowel syndrome naturally exacerbated the situation, with her symptoms contributing to greater stress. In turn, the added stress worsened her symptoms and made it more likely for her to miss work.

Court records suggest that Ford “tried to help” Harris, adjusting her work schedule and allowing her to work from home on an ad hoc basis, for instance. But, despite these measures being taken, Harris was still “unable to establish regular and consistent work hours” and failed “to perform the core objectives of the job.”

After Ford attempted to offer alternative accommodations—some of which Harris rejected—she was terminated in September 2009, as a result of what the company called “several years of subpar performance and high absences.”

In August 2011, the EEOC sued Ford under the Americans with Disabilities Act. While the Sixth Circuit ruled against Ford in an April 2014 decision, an appellate panel voted to rehear that ruling. The court ultimately reversed that decision, noting that an employee with a disability is not qualified for a position if he or she cannot perform the necessary functions of the role with or without reasonable accommodation. The court noted that telecommuting may be a reasonable accommodation per the ADA, except in a scenario in which regular attendance is essential to performing the job’s critical functions.

The EEOC “has been pursuing telecommuting claims on a regular basis,” says Mark Girouard, a Minneapolis-based labor and employment attorney with Nilan Johnson Lewis.

This decision, however, figures to make establishing these claims more difficult for the organization, says Girouard.

“Obviously, each position must be analyzed individually, but the Sixth Circuit’s description of the job at issue in this case could be applied to many other positions.”

In other words, there are many jobs where availability to participate in face-to-face interactions should necessitate regular and predictable performance, he says, adding that “the en banc decision makes clear that courts should defer to employers’ business judgment on that issue.”

Last week’s decision “adds to the list of recent major losses for the EEOC,” says Girouard. “Separate and apart from the substance of the decision, the fact that the EEOC lost another major lawsuit highlights the increasing skepticism applied to the EEOC by the federal courts.”

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Get Set for the NLRB’s ‘Quickie-Election’ Rule!

If you thought April 15 was a date to keep you awake at night, the day before — April 14; that’s tomorrow, folks! — could be worse. 116040122 -- labor unionTomorrow is the day the National Labor Relations Board’s “ambush-election rules,” aka “quickie-election rules,” governing how union representation is voted on by employees, takes effect.

Late last month, I was made aware of this post at LaborUnionReport.com, pointing out (in pretty cryptic terms) that “as President Obama’s union attorneys controlling the National Labor Relations Board push through their so-called ‘ambush-election rules’ … the NLRB is conducting ‘practitioner’ training at NLRB offices and other locations (including a union office) across the country.”

The post says little else, but does include the PowerPoint presentation being used for the practitioners’ education. I found it somewhat interesting. You might too.

Meanwhile, NLRB General Counsel Richard F. Griffin Jr. did release early last week a guidance memo on modifications to organized-labor-representation procedures effective April 14 — specifically, how new cases will be processed from petition filing through certification. In his words,

“I am confident that the guidance provided herein will allow regions to implement the final rule effectively and efficiently.”

What effect these new rules will have remains to be seen, though Joel Barras, employment attorney at Reed Smith, says he’s pretty  confident they’ll “dramatically limit the time employers have to run pro-company campaigns.” As he puts it:

“I believe unions will now wait to file their union representation petitions until the new rules take effect. If I am right, and we see a high number of petitions filed in mid to late April, that would serve as an excellent indication that unions agree with employers that the new rules will dramatically improve the likelihood that employees will vote to join unions.”

In a webinar Friday by several Littler attorneys, addressing what more than one called this “new reality,” Tanja Thompson, Memphis, Tenn.-based office managing shareholder for Littler, confirmed that her office has seen a recent “slowdown” in the number of union petitions filed, indicating many are, indeed, probably waiting to file under the new rules, as Barras predicts.

“Make no mistake; this rule change is designed to see increases in union win rates,” she said. ” … We do anticipate accelerated activity starting April 14.”

She and the others shared cautionary tips for making sure nothing is missed in the new system, such as adhering to deadlines for supplying lists of personal contact and job information of all likely and eligible union members … and remembering that union notices will now be coming via email, not fax, and “unions don’t always get it right in who they email, yet that’s who’s being served,” said Thompson.

They also laid out all kinds of strategies for being proactive and not waiting to take action until a petition is filed under the new system, which is expected to change the current six-week election process to something closer to two-to-three weeks.

Action plans should include putting your employer statement out now on unions and how you view them, ensure supervisors and managers are comfortable talking with employees about that view, and ensuring all workers understand the value of their wages and benefits.

“My fear for employers,” said Jeff Harrison, a Minneapolis-based Littler shareholder, “is they’ll be busy meeting the many requirements [of responding to a petition] at the expense of focusing on their [anti-union] campaign communication strategies.”

For a further frame of reference on what’s coming, here is our most recent post by Michael J. O’Brien on the “current ‘quickie’ kerfuffle,” as he calls it — namely, the vote on March 19 by the U.S. House of Representatives, passing a GOP-led resolution to overturn the rule. With Obama almost certain to veto it, the vote appears to have created hardly a wrinkle in the NLRB’s preparations, as I indicated above.

Here, too, is some good discussion of the GOP’s effect on the NLRB that Tom Starner raised in a January news analysis. Specifically, he writes, “while the NLRB has characterized its actions as ‘modernizing its processes,’ legal experts representing employers say the real impact will deny employers an adequate chance to stage an anti-union campaign prior to employee voting.”

So … “gather your bragging points now,” as Harrison said in the webinar. “Conduct vulnerability assessments,” with special focus on employees being treated fairly, with dignity and respect, and with robust employee-appreciation programs … those catch phrases “you often find in union petitions,” he said.

Bottom line, look closely at your people issues, said Harrison. “Are your people treating your people right?” Because it’s those types of complaints — treatment ones — that “are almost always behind” employees being driven to unionize.

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Work/Life ‘Innovation’ in the Valley

As a session titled “Unlimited Time Off and the Leading Work/Life Benefits of Silicon Valley” reminded those attending this year’s Health & Benefits Leadership Conference, high-tech employers are innovating in areas well beyond technology.

ThinkstockPhotos-78521845Indeed, representatives from Adobe, Yahoo! and CA Technologies each detailed a wide range of work/life programs aimed at providing employees with greater flexibility and making their organizations more attractive places to work.

Lauren Vela, a senior director of member services at the Pacific Business Group on Health and the moderator of session, pointed out that bringing work/life balance to a high stressed, high-achieving population isn’t always an easy feat.

But that said, it’s clearly something companies such as Adobe, Yahoo! and CA Technologies take very seriously.

“In looking at our population,” explained Luz Garcia, senior Americas benefits specialist for San Jose, Calif.-based Adobe Systems, “people were not taking time-off. They were adding huge balances to their PTO accounts,” something that wasn’t in the spirit of Abode’s time-off program.

“We wanted people to take the time-off for rest and relaxation,” she said.

In response, Garcia said, Adobe revisited its program and implemented an unlimited time-off program.

Adobe’s policy states 

“… exempt U.S. employees will be paid their regular base salary at all times while they are actively employed by Adobe (including while on Adobe holidays and during Company break periods); the only time they will not receive their base salary will be during periods when they are on a leave of absence or are taking Sick Time Off, at which time they will be subject to the compensation and benefits provisions of the applicable Adobe leave of absence policy or the Sick Time Off provision below.”

Adobe, Garcia said, also enhanced its sabbatical program in 2009 with a tiered approach— so that after five years of service employees were entitled to four fully paid weeks off; after four weeks, five fully paid weeks off; and after 15 years, six fully paid weeks off.

Garcia noted that the changes helped reinforce the fact that “we value people taking time-off to decompress.”

Adobe also has instituted summer breaks. “We always had a winter break, where we shut down the last week of December. But now, with the summer break, we shut down the week of July 4,” she said.

CA Technologies’ Vice President of Global Benefits Lisa Mars, meanwhile, shared CA’s efforts in onsite day-care.

CA, with facilities in Silicon Valley, launched its first onsite Children’s Center in 1992 at its corporate headquarters in New York, Mars said. Since then, it rolled out centers in all of its large offices. “These sites have programs for children from six weeks of age to six years [and] teachers who we train … who are very highly skilled,” she said.

“It’s emerged as a wonderful influence on our culture,” Mars told attendees. “We have a very family friendly culture.”

CA also regularly holds onsite events, such as a “spring fling” (one was being held as Mars was speaking), where all of the families with children in the center, as well as other employees with children, are able to participate. (The events includes ponies, a petting zoo, kites and games.)

“It just nice to see people step back from all of that stress,” Mars said.

Mars noted she’s been required to do a lot of CEO education over the years, as new CEOs have joined CA and want to know “why we’re spending money” on these programs. “I have to explain to them [that it’s not just about] dollars and sense,” she said. “We have to look at it as something you can’t really apply a dollar value to, but it still brings the organization value.

“We’ve done studies that show that the retention levels of people who bring children to our programs are really much higher than those who don’t,” she added.

At Yahoo!, meanwhile, the goal of its various work/life programs is to not only make the firm a great place to work, but also to draw in “the best of the best.”

One of the areas the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Yahoo! has focused on is extending paid leave of new mothers and fathers, explained Joe Gracy, director of global benefits for Yahoo! “If you had a baby, adopt a child, provide foster care placement, you get eight [fully paid] weeks off. Birth mothers get an additional eight weeks [fully paid] as a part of their disability leave.”

Management, Gracy said, also wanted to make the experience fun for those new parents by introducing new-child gift baskets that included a diaper bag, toys and more.

All of the initiatives are aimed at “making the employee feel valued and engaged,” Gracy said.

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Are Your Managers Just Muddling Through?

boredIf your managers are supposed to set an example for employees to follow, a new report finds the odds are pretty good they’re leading your workers down a road that’s been paved with apathy.

In its State of the American Manager: Analytics and Advice for Leaders report (available for download here), Gallup Inc. surveyed 2,564 U.S.-based managers, studying the relationship between managerial talent and engagement, and the level of engagement among managers. The Washington, D.C.-based performance management consulting company found that just 35 percent of managers are engaged in their jobs, with 51 percent of managers “not engaged,” and another 14 percent “actively disengaged.”

It stands to reason that this type of managerial discontent would have a trickle-down effect on the rest of the workforce, and this survey doesn’t offer any figures to suggest otherwise.

For example, Gallup’s analysis found that employees who are supervised by highly engaged managers are 59 percent more likely to be engaged than those overseen by actively disengaged managers.

That finding shouldn’t surprise anyone. No, it’s the sheer number of disengaged managers that should be alarming. And, just as disconcerting is the small percentage of supervisors the poll found to have the “innate talent to become a great manager,” according to Gallup.

Defining talent as “the natural capacity for excellence in a given endeavor,” Gallup found just one in 10 individuals has the “unique blend of innate characteristics” that are predictors of management excellence, including motivational skills, assertiveness, accountability and decision-making talents.

Another two in 10 have “functioning” talent, which means they possess some of the aforementioned traits but not all of them, and could become successful managers with the right coaching. Just 18 percent of current managers have “high” talent, according to Gallup.

Naturally, these managers are more likely to be engaged. Fifty-four percent of those classified as having high managerial talent described themselves as being engaged in their work, compared to 39 percent of those with functioning talent and 27 percent of managers in the “limited” talent group.

It can and has been argued that “employee engagement” is a somewhat nebulous concept. But few would dispute that—however you define the term—getting and keeping employees engaged at all levels throughout the organization is critical to success.

And, this Gallup data certainly suggests there’s a big problem with engagement among managers. Fixing it may be a tall order, but, as Gallup notes in its report, a failure to do so comes with a hefty price.

“Managers influence everything that gets done in organizations,” according to Gallup. “They translate energy into action and hold employee morale, turnover, productivity, safety and creativity in their hands. A great manager improves lives while improving performance. A poor manager makes workers’ lives miserable while destroying performance.”

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More in the Coffer to Help Prisoners Find Jobs

It wasn’t that long ago (little more than a month) that I was blogging about an announcement by the U.S. Department of Labor that it was 126268666 -- prisoner workingcreating a $5 million funding opportunity to link inmates to jobs before they’re even released.

The idea there was to place American Job Centers inside local jails where soon-to-be-released prisoners would be able to access job-placement services and counseling to increase their chances of getting work without going through that uneasy “limbo” between living behind bars and earning a living.

Now, again from the DOL, comes significantly more, as this release announces: a whopping $27 million to fund its Training to Work-Adult Re-entry grant program to help, as its release says, “thousands of soon-to-be-released inmates become productive citizens.”

I wish I could tell you specifically how the two programs differ. Numerous calls and emails to the DOL went unanswered. But that doesn’t really matter. What does is the added help — significant help — ex-cons will be getting to rejoin the workforce and the world.

According to the announcement, the department expects to award about 20 grants with a maximum value of $1,360,000 each to provide training and employment services for men and women, ages 18 and older (including veterans), who participate in state or local work-release programs.

The approach is designed to link and coordinate education and training services for these people to get industry-recognized credentials. Those credentials will, in turn, help them find meaningful work (translated: not just assembly line and blue-collar) and give employers what they need to fill their gaps in growing sectors and industries.

Having personal experience with this — a relative who is now trying to re-enter society after paying his dues for some very bad life choices — I confess, what U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez has to say about this latest move resonates with me:

“A good job gives a person a sense of dignity and purpose. It enables [him or her] to find a decent place to live and enjoy a hot meal at home. Good jobs are a pathway to the middle class. Those who have paid their debt to society deserve the opportunity to find and hold useful employment. It puts money in their pocket, most of which is pumped back into the economy. In the best America, everyone shares our prosperity. That’s what these grants can make possible.”

Of course, all the money in the world can’t buy a guarantee that all hiring managers will leave all bias at the door when they enter the interview room. Or follow all the steps of the interview process laid out by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in its background-check guidelines, including when it’s appropriate to discuss an applicant’s past incarceration.

But it’s safe to say most employers would have to look favorably on an ex-prisoner’s initiative to get the education and credentialing he or she needs to succeed in that particular job in that particular organization in that particular industry.

If there are closed minds out there, this can only help to open them.

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