Category Archives: HR profession

EEOC: Retaliation, Not Race, Was Most Frequent Charge Last Year

The EEOC says private-sector workplace discrimination charges hit a new record last year, with 99,922 charges filed with the agency, compared to 93,277 in fiscal 2009. The EEOC also got a record amount of money from employers last year—$404 million, compared to $376 million in ‘09—to settle worker complaints via its enforcement, mediation and litigation programs.

As we’ve noted before, charges filed with the EEOC tend to trend up when the economy trends down.

According to the agency’s Fiscal 2010 data, all major categories of filings in the private sector were up, including charges of discrimination related to age, gender, disabilities and race. Speaking of race, the number of charges alleging retaliation under all the statutes (36,258) eclipsed the number alleging racial discrimination (35,890) for the first time in the agency’s 45-year history. Allegations based on religion (3,790), disability (25,165) and age (23,264) all increased from the previous year, while 201 charges were filed under the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act in its first year of enforcement.

A full summary of the data can be viewed at

CareerXroads: “Big demand” for International Recruiters

International recruiting is hot, hot, hot, says Mark Mehler, who—with Gerry Crispin—heads, the Kendall Park, N.J.-based recruitment consulting firm.

CareerXroads has a job board for recruiters (“We don’t charge for it,” says Mehler) and, according to him, the volume of open positions for senior-level recruiters for U.S.-based companies is the greatest he’s seen since three years ago. “This, more than anything, tells us that hiring is about to pick up steam,” he says.

But what’s really sizzling, he says, is the job market for international recruiters. “It’s aflame,” says Mehler. “The demand is big for all over the world—Europe, Asia, India.” In fact, demand has grown so much that he and Crispin have been inspired to start planning a colloquium on international recruiting that will take place “very shortly.”  “We haven’t settled on a date yet, but stay tuned,” he says.

“International is coming on so strong that Gerry and I predict you’ll see more than a few heads of staffing at U.S. firms ending up overseas,” he says.

Paper Says HR Should Learn Engagement Lessons from Marketing

I hope this recent executive briefing from the Madison Performance Group isn’t some kind of foreshadowing — a sign that HR might soon be shedding its viability and function, piece by piece, because of its inability to “keep up.”

According to the briefing, when it comes to building a more engaged workforce — and we all know how important that has become to HR leaders in an emerging recovery — some executives have suggested that the marketing department may be better qualified than HR. Yikes.

In a release about the paper, Mike Ryan, senior vice president of Madison, a recognition and consulting firm based in New York, says the C-suite “wants HR to do more than communicate processes and procedures.” On the contrary, “top executives want HR to own the internal employee customers,” he says.

“Marketing has evolved particularly fast in using digital media to deliver messages that are more efficient and impactful,” says Ryan, who wrote the briefing. “Precision marketing practices — that build personalized relationships with the brand — have helped marketing gain new respect and status within the organization for its ability to attract, retain and leverage profitable customers.”

And here’s the kicker: “Some business leaders wonder if marketing shouldn’t also be charged with building and maintaining the corporate connection with employees,” he writes in the briefing. This one is of special concern since much of the talk I’m hearing in HR circles today is of the need for the profession to evolve into more of a strategic catalyst — through communication and talent-management strategies — for the business conversation and translation between top managers and employees to be effectively executed. Hey, if marketing’s supposed to evolve into that space, where does that leave HR?

“So back to our question,” the paper reads: “Which discipline is best prepared to manage employee engagement? The answer is simple. No discipline within any organization is more committed to the development and optimization of its workforce than the HR team. But to be truly the best at generating emotional connections that drive long-term value and loyalty, HR will need to start acting, and executing, like marketing.”

I’m not sure the HR professionals I’ve met are really ready for this.

On Workaholics and the New Year

I thought it a bit ironic that I chose to take a moment to work from home while on vacation today only to come across this Career Builder survey on signs of being a workaholic. Although the findings appear alarming at first, the only truly significant number I can see is the 51 percent of 3,100 employees polled who’ve had more work piled on them this year. Significant, but not surprising.

Still, 24 percent of people at home or out socially are still thinking about work. That means about one in every four people I’ve seen in the mall, post office, traffic (with trees tied to their roofs), on ladders hanging lights from windows and gutters, etc., etc., isn’t really connected to the holiday he or she appears to be enjoying. That’s kind of sad. Then again, that leaves 76 percent who must have perfected the art of leaving everything at the office. So, there’s a hopeful sign that our society is that maladjusted.

The release isn’t directed at HR professionals, but it might offer some insight into the dangers of letting workers obsess over work without stepping in and addressing it. It also lists some tips for establishing and maintaining a better balance between life and work that you might share with them when the new year begins.

As Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder, puts it: “While a strong work ethic is valued, a lack of balance with … personal life can ultimately work against [employees] in the long run.” She recommends that, as the year wraps up, workers take inventory of their personal time and figure out where they “need to make adjustments in 2011.”

Maybe employers can lend a bigger hand with that going forward.

Yet Another Acquisition: Lawson Acquires Enwisen

Lawson Software, the St. Paul-based HRMS vendor, has just announced it’s acquiring employee self-service vendor Enwisen for $70 million in an all-cash transaction. Lawson says it expects the transaction to close by Dec. 31.

It’s been quite a year for mergers and acquisitions in the world of HR. The coming year will undoubtedly see many more, especially considering that analysts such as Jason Averbook of Knowledge Infusion expect 2011 will see a big shakeout of HR technology vendors.

 Here are some of the other noteworthy M&As (mostly “A”s, as in acquisitions) among HR vendors this past year:

Peopleclick and Authoria

Aon and Hewitt Associates

Towers Perrin and Watson Wyatt (announced last year but it closed this January)

ADP and Workscape

Taleo and

SumTotal and Softscape

SuccessFactors and Inform and CubeTree

Catching Up on Compensation Trends

A few bits of news crossed my desk today that I thought I’d share just in case you hadn’t seen them. Both offer glimpses into where the nation’s businesses stand on compensation practices that might be handy comparative tools for you and your organization.

The first is this good-news-bad-news release from Challenger, Gray & Christmas (scroll down past that first top item to get to it). It shows that, while companies aren’t increasing their holiday bonuses by much, they’re at least not decreasing them by much either. In the survey of about 100 HR professionals, 63 percent said their companies were giving year-end bonuses this year, compared to 64 percent last year.

Underscoring just how precarious this on-again-off-again recovery still is, 16 percent of respondents said their companies were planning to give smaller bonuses this year, compared to only 4 percent in 2009.

“According to economists, the recovery began in July 2009,” says John A. Challenger, the firm’s CEO. “but, for many companies, the recovery simply means they are no longer hemorrhaging money.”

The second window into where things stand is a new guide for HR professionals that the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics will soon be releasing called “Zooming in on Compensation Data.” The release about it calls it “a convenient, hands-on reference document that provides brief explanations of various BLS surveys, with charts … [plus] separate sections for wage and salary administrators, benefits administrators, wage and contract administrators, as well as information on the 21st-century workforce.” Also included is contact information for all eight regional BLS offices.

Lastly, here’s some latest research from Sibson Consulting showing moderation in salary-increase and other compensation planning will be the name of the game for 2011.

In this still-volatile but ever-improving economy, it has to be extremely difficult to know what compensation and total-reward moves are best to keep your company competitive and strategically positioned for the recovery. It also must be nearly impossible to time the moves perfectly. Figured these bits of information couldn’t hurt.

Buzzword Overkill

The good folks at LinkedIn recently combed through their 85 million profiles and found the top 10 most overused buzzwords of the year, including such gems as  “extensive experience” and “innovative.”

“We wanted to reveal insights that help professionals make better choices about how to position themselves online,” DJ Patil, LinkedIn’s lead data analyst, said in a statement on

Now, onto the list:

1. Extensive experience

2. Innovative

3. Motivated

4. Results-oriented

5. Dynamic

6. Proven track record

7. Team player

8. Fast-paced

9. Problem solver

10. Entrepreneurial

But with a national unemployment rate hovering around 10 percent, here’s one phrase that sadly hasn’t been overused in 2010: You’re hired.

Research on Work and Family Issues

Interested in work/family issues? Seems like most people are — from both a personal and professional standpoint.

I recently attended a Focus on Workplace Flexibility conference that offered some studies pinpointing various issues affecting the integration of work and life.

I highlight some of those new academic studies in my write-up of the conference (here). These studies ranged from barriers that prevent women from remining in the science pipeline to the way blue-collar workers will find ways to create their own flexibility when their employers are inflexible. From the way working mothers give up leisure time and sleep to meet the demands of children and jobs to the extreme work/family issues affecting military families. (See all of the papers from the conference here.)

The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, which funded these studies, has for years also funded the Work and Family Researchers Network, which has been at Boston College since 1997. That funding of the Network, however, is ending, and it is now both moving to the University of Pennsylvania and is becoming a membership organization.

Anyone interested in work/family research can become a dues-paying general member for $100 a year. Seems like a membership many HR leaders should consider. See here for more information.

Most Read Stories on HREOnline last week

See what you may have missed:

* Checking in With the Next Generation

Peter Cappelli ‘s latest Talent Management column looks at Wharton’s annual mid-term exam, which explores students’ view of their last job and the way they were managed. In most cases, management was lacking. Feedback was limited or nonexistent, and bonuses — instead of resulting in engagement and motivation — often prompted these high-potential candidates to quit or slack off. 

* Time to Re-Engage

Top businesses for HR practices — according to an exclusive recalibration of Fortune’s “Most Admired Companies” list — are taking employee engagement very seriously in this economy. (A PDF of the Top 50 Companies is here.)

E-Learning Still Trending Up

Companies continue to adopt technology-based training for employees as expenditures in training and development decreased overall last year. At the same time, the expenditure per employee actually remained stable, because the workforce was smaller.

 * Pinpointing Leadership Qualities

Social networking is changing the way HR leaders think of legal risks and recruiting opportunities, writes Susan R. Meisinger in her latest HR Leadership column. It also should make them think about the way they select high-potential candidates for leadership-development programs.

* Talking up Flexibility

Work/life balance is drawing more attention from the White House and other policymakers as research continues to show that the issue has an impact on the decisions of working families. A recent conference brought together representatives from the administration, military, academia and corporate America to attempt to drive the discussion onward.

Into the Crystal Ball

With the end of the year approaching faster than employees can run to a plate of free holiday cookies, a few organizations typically take this time to cull their collective wisdom in an effort to predict the coming trends for the new year.

Among them is Bersin & Associates, which this morning released their view into the 2011 crystal ball: Enterprise Learning and Talent Management 2011: Predictions for the Coming Year — Building the Borderless Workplace.

In a brief chat yesterday afternoon with Josh Bersin, the Oakland, Calif.-based firm’s president and chief executive officer, he said the main themes of the coming year will be globalization, collaboration and employee re-engagement, as organizations shift to a global, borderless workplace in 2011.

“Companies are significantly shifting their new investments towards China, India, South America, to the growing parts of the economy, and they don’t have their people enabled to fulfill on that,” he said. “This is forcing HR to globalize learning and development and HR programs, as well as its own operational structure.”

In fact, Bersin research found that 17 percent of all organizations cited “globalization” as one of their top three business strategies in 2010 — three times the percentage of midyear 2009.

In addition to pressing outwards, Bersin said companies must also turn the lens back on themselves to ensure proper engagement levels are met.

“We have found that HR needs to look at their culture, because there’s been two or three years of upheaval at companies, and you can implement social networking all you want, but there’s really cultural issues underneath it that still need to be addressed.”

In addition to engagement, organizations will be re-focusing their energies on creating more innovative processes in 2011, Bersin said.

That’s based on their research that found 34 percent of all HR and business leaders now cite “driving innovation” as one of their top three talent challenges, up from only 14 percent last year.

“How do we create a culture of collaboration and innovation? Those are problems that companies haven’t thought about the last two or three years,” he says.

For access to the full report, click here.