Destroying the Barriers to Vet Hiring

Despite the impressive images earlier this week of Special Op forces landing on a mountain top in Iraq to scout out a possible rescue option for refugees stranded there (and, in turn, help prevent an even more nightmarish situation from occurring), the reality is the U.S. military has been in the process of drawing down personnel from the Middle 477606281East, with the last U.S. troops currently due to leave Afghanistan by the end of 2016. A natural outgrowth of this drawdown, of course, is the need for these individuals to find jobs in the private sector. You’d think that might not be an insurmountable challenge, considering many of these vets bring with them amazing skill sets that make them ideal candidates for a long list of positions, including many at the leadership level.

Yet while there certainly have been plenty of stories about the commitment forward-thinking organizations are making to the recruiting and hiring of vets — including some published in HRE and on its website — there still remains a significant number of stumbling blocks that stand in the way of making this happen. True, many companies are taking significant steps in that direction. Earlier this month, 100,000 Jobs Mission, an organization with the goal of bringing together companies committed to the hiring of U.S. military veterans and military spouses, reported that member firms have hired, since its founding in 2011, a total of 161,752 U.S. military veterans through the second quarter of 2014. (The 165 companies now involved in the group pledged to hire 200,000 veterans by 2020.) But there’s little question plenty of barriers remain for these returning vets, including many put in place by employers themselves.

So what factors are standing in the way of returning vets landing jobs? In an effort to answer that question, Christopher Stone, a University of Texas at San Antonio Ph.D. student, is in the process of leading a research study – announced yesterday in a press release issued by the UTSA – aimed at uncovering what might be at work here. Stone, who is about two years into his research and has, thus far, developed a model for understanding factors affecting the hiring decisions of vets, recently co-authored an article titled “Factors Affecting Hiring Decisions About Veterans” (requires purchase) that appeared in the July edition of Human Resource Management Review and proposes several hypotheses and potential solutions. (No surprise Stone — who also discussed the research earlier this month at the 2014 Academy of Management annual meeting in Philadelphia — selected this as a research project, considering he served in the Air Force for eight years, first in an aircraft-maintenance unit overseas and then as a military training instructor.)

As might be expected, two of the primary barriers identified by Stone and his colleagues include stereotyping and a lack of understanding as to how military skills transfer over to civilian roles. According to the UTSA press release, the researchers used a model based on the treatment of people with disabilities to suggest specific steps employers might want to consider as they reassess their veteran hiring strategies (or lack of them), including:

  • Using education programs to dispel stereotypes, publicize veterans’ job successes and change the organizational culture to emphasize the value of hiring veterans;
  • Employing decision makers who value hiring veterans, recognizing and rewarding those who hire veterans, expanding recruiting to find talented veterans and giving bonuses to employees who refer veterans to the company; and
  • Familiarizing decision makers with military jobs and the associated knowledge, skills and abilities that are similar to civilian positions.

I’m sure many of your organizations are already doing some, if not all, of the above. But, that said, considering the significant talent challenges companies are facing today and extraordinary skills many of these vets are bringing to the table, I would think the timing couldn’t be better for employers to take inventory of what they’re doing and ask themselves, “Are we doing enough to ensure we’re not standing in the way of our progress?”

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Survey Finds Skepticism on Private Exchanges

skepticsimThe National Business Group on Health’s latest health-benefits survey finds that large employers anticipate holding their healthcare benefit costs to about 5 percent next year, in part by continuing to shift more of the cost burden to employees, broadening their use of wellness programs and making high-deductible consumer-directed health plans their only benefit option (the number of employers that plan to do this for next year jumped by 50 percent).

Another option that’s attracting interest from large employers is private exchanges. Just 3 percent of large employers will offer their active employees health coverage through a private exchange next year, the survey finds; however, 35 percent said they’re considering doing so for 2016 or beyond. But employers are skeptical about the ability of these exchanges in two key areas: Only 17 percent said they’re confident that exchanges will do a better job of engaging employees to make better healthcare decisions and just 10 percent believe they’ll control costs better than their own plans.

Another report, this one from Accenture, finds that private exchanges are experiencing “hyper-growth” and that enrollment could exceed that of the public health exchanges (which have enrolled about 8 million Americans so far) by 2017. Approximately 3 million individuals could enroll in health plans via private exchanges this year alone, according to Accenture.

Whether or not these exchanges will be successful in engaging employees and lowering or stabilizing healthcare costs may depend on the features they offer: According to an Accenture survey of 2,000 U.S. consumers, 87 percent identified “tools to help project my expenses and select coverage levels” as an important feature, and 58 percent identified this as a “very important” or “critical” feature.

For readers wanting a bit more information on private exchanges, check out this comprehensive checklist by HREOnline’s benefits columnist, Carol Harnett.

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Liar Liar, You’re Still Hired

liarWe all know lying is wrong. But we’ve all done it. And those who say they’ve never told a lie—not even a tiny little white one—well, they’re probably not being truthful.

That goes for job seekers too. It’s not uncommon for hungry applicants to embellish their skills and experience a bit, in order to pump up their resumes and increase their odds of getting a foot in the door.

But what happens when a candidate gets caught trying to put one over on a hiring manager? That may depend on the severity of the lie, and the potential an employer sees in the person who told it, according to a recent CareerBuilder survey.

In a poll of 2,188 hiring managers and HR professionals, 51 percent of respondents said they would automatically dismiss a job candidate if they uncovered a lie on his or her resume. Interestingly though, 40 percent said their decision to move forward with an applicant who lied on a resume would depend on what the candidate lied about. Another 7 percent said they would be willing to overlook a lie if they liked the candidate.

Dave Ulrich, professor of business at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan, was “surprised” at the number of hiring managers willing to look past an applicant’s stretching of the truth, however small the fabrication may be.

“I tend to be quite strongly in the 51 percent who believe that, if someone lies [about] little things, he or she might lie [about] bigger things.”

Some may contend that not all information on a resume—titles or job duties, for instance—is of equal importance, says Ulrich.

“But I would argue that even these less significant facts signify an attitude of integrity,” he says. “The messages on the resume signify the candidate’s style. Applicants would be better served demonstrating candor and transparency to build relationships of trust.”

Indeed, many hiring managers (more than half, according to the aforementioned survey) wouldn’t exactly rush to put their faith in would-be employees they saw as being dishonest right off the bat. And there are some fibs—or flat-out, obvious lies—they may not be so inclined to forgive. Enjoy this sampling of some of the most unusual lies employers reported catching on resumes:

• A candidate’s job history included a stint as the assistant to the prime minister of a foreign country. (Just one problem—the country in question does not have a prime minister.)

• One hopeful boasted on his resume that he was a high-school basketball free throw champion. (Not sure how Kevin Durant-like consistency from the charity stripe would even apply to the workplace, but he fessed up to his lie in the interview nonetheless.)

• A 32-year-old applicant indicated having 25 years of professional experience. (He or she must have been one smart, hard-working baby.)

• And, speaking of babies, one job seeker claimed to have worked for 20 years as a babysitter for celebrities such as Madonna and Tom Cruise.

I actually feel for the prospective employer in this last case. It’s too bad this candidate was lying, because I’d think an employee with that kind of experience could be a big help in dealing with divas and difficult bosses in the workplace.

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Mood Readers in the Workplace

The BBC is reporting that technology maker Dell is working on “a mood-reading application” for both home and office use as soon as 2017.

Dell Research’s Jai Menon told the BBC that its researchers were currently working with specialized headsets to see if they could be used to give a reliable indication of whether the wearer was happy, sad, bored or frustrated.

“If I can sense the user is working hard on a task, an intuitive computer system might then reduce distractions, such as allowing incoming phone calls to go directly to voicemail and not letting the user be disturbed,” he suggested.

“Similarly, if they’ve been concentrating [for] a long time, maybe it could suggest a break.”

The BBC also reports that Dell isn’t the only big tech firm vying to enter the mood-reading market:

Microsoft has announced a series of mood-reading research projects, including Moodscope – software to infer a user’s mental state from their smartphone use – and a “smart bra” that monitors heart and skin activity to detect stress and emotions.

IBM has tested uses for brain-monitoring gear at its research base in Hursley, England.

While the idea of mood-recognition technology may tease the mind with its various possible uses both at home and in the workplace, the BBC managed to find an expert willing to express his mood (impatient) in a way that requires no specialized technology to decipher.

“I think the potential for these things is astronomical, but we’ve been told this technology has been five years away for decades,” said Dr. Bernie Hogan, a human-computer interaction expert from the University of Oxford.

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Early Birds vs. Night Owls: Which is More Ethical?

77741160 -- worker and clockDespite what you may have heard, the likelihood that an employee will make an ethical decision in the morning more than the evening has as much to do with his or her “chronotype” as it does the actual time of day.

In a forthcoming article in the journal Psychological Science titled, “The morality of larks and owls: Unethical behavior depends on chronotype as well as time of day” (downloadable), co-authors Brian Gunia of Johns Hopkins University, Christopher Barnes of the University of Washington and Sunita Sah of Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business quash the existing theory that individuals are more likely to be unethical as the day wears on due to a loss of energy and effort to exert self-control and behave ethically.

Instead, they say, their research proves ethical behavior has more to do with the fit between an individual’s chronotype, or best/preferred time of day, and the actual time of day. The study shows morning people working in a night shift were more likely to be unethical than morning people in a morning shift, and night people in the morning were more likely to be unethical than night people at night. This suggests people may be more likely to act unethically during the “mismatched” time of day.

“Ethics is not a stable trait in people,” says Sah. “Instead, people exhibit dynamic patterns of unethical behavior across the day based on their circadian [cyclical fluctuations in sleep propensity] rhythms. By understanding their chronotypes, people can help predict when ‘the better angels of their nature’ will appear.”

The study, according to this release, challenges the existing “morning morality effect” that claims ethical decisions are mentally taxing and normal daytime activities deplete our limited cognitive resources as the day goes on.

In addition, the researchers found sleep “can have a significant impact on ethical decisions,” Sah says.

“Our research suggests that early-rising owls or late-working larks will be more likely to make seemingly small, unethical decisions that could have larger consequences.”

So what are managers and HR professionals supposed to do with this information? How can they mitigate this risk? Sah suggests learning the chronotypes of employees and creating work structures, schedules and hours that match individuals.

Requiring morning folks to make challenging, ethical decisions at night or vice versa could “run the risk of encouraging unethical behavior,” the release states. “Employers should also carefully consider overtime, shift work, flextime and requirements during Daylight Savings Time clock changes.

“By understanding chronotypes and the significance of the time of day,” says Sah, “individuals can become more ethical in the way they work, the quality of their work and the decisions they make at any moment.”

And employers, the researchers claim, can help make that happen.

Who knew?

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Are Drones Targeting Your Job?

This morning, I came across an interesting piece on the ABC News website titled “How Drones Will Replace Humans in the Workplace.”

462430535True, this probably isn’t the most burning issue facing HR leaders today, but the commercial use of drones is certainly a topic we’re starting to see a lot more of in the news lately. If there’s been a tipping point here, it probably was Amazon CEO Jeff Bezo’s revelation on 60 Minutes last December that the world’s largest online retailer was exploring the use of drones to deliver packages to its customers.

Since then, drones have left the war zone and have started to appear in our backyards. As a story appearing in The Des Moines Register pointed out last month, real-estate is a natural, with agents “increasingly taking their work to the skies, using remote-controlled aircraft to film bird’s-eye-view video tours of homes, land and commercial properties.”

Asking what jobs might be at risk if and when drones are given clearance by the Federal Aviation Administration to take off commercially, the author of the ABC News piece quotes Mary Cummings, a drone expert who teaches at MIT and Duke University. Cummings suggests delivery jobs, such as UPS and FedEx, are likely candidates, along with police jobs. “Crop dusters might also find their risky work outsourced,” she adds.

(As you might expect, there was no mention of HR jobs. No speculation that, one day, drones might be delivering pink slips to remote workers included in a reduction-in-force.)

A number of obstacles, of course, lie in the way of this becoming a reality, including the need for the FAA to ease up on regulations. But experts expect it’s just a matter of time for that to happen.

In the ABC News piece, Cummings also suggests workers, in general, don’t really need to sweat the commercial use of drones catching on.

‘Ultimately,’ she says, ‘drones will create more jobs than they replace, they will save lives and they will give us capabilities we only dream about—like everyone owning our own flying cars.’ ”

 

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A Leadership Guru’s Legacy

As an infantry officer during World War II, leading a platoon of soldiers through harrowing combat during the Battle of the Bulge, Warren G. Bennis learned firsthand what it took to become an effective leader. Following his service (during which he was awarded a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart), Bennis began his academic career, in which he became one of the world’s foremost authorities on leadership and organizational development. Late last week, Bennis passed away in Los Angeles at the age of 89.

Yesterday the University of Southern California, where Bennis spent 35 years on the faculty of its Marshall School of Business, released a statement from USC President C.L. Max Niklas commemorating his many accomplishments:

Warren Bennis was a visionary whose transformational contributions to the business world have shaped the fundamental concepts of effective leadership. Professor Bennis was one of a rare and esteemed group of pioneers, able not only to anticipate the demands of a changing world, but also guide the direction of this change through his exceptional scholarship, teaching and mentoring.”

Bennis wrote nearly 30 books during his career, the most famous of which was On Becoming a Leader, a bestseller that is considered a veritable bible among leadership-development experts. His memoir, An Invented Life, was nominated for a Pulitzer prize. Bennis was notable for his belief that leaders are made, not born, writing that “the process of becoming a leader is similar, if not identical, to becoming a fully integrated human being.”

Leaders, he wrote, must be passionate, intensely curious, honest with themselves and be able to inspire hope and passion in others. They must have a guiding vision for the mission they’re responsible for and be willing to take risks and learn from mistakes. From On Becoming a Leader:

The leader never lies to himself, especially about himself, knows his flaws as well as his assets, and deals with them directly. … The leader wonders about everything, wants to learn as much as he can, is willing to take risks, experiment, try new things. He does not worry about his failures but embraces errors, knowing he will learn from them.”

Bennis was an adviser and mentor to many CEOs and U.S. Presidents, including Starbucks CEO Howard D. Schultz, according to the New York Times. He was well known for the adage that “leadership cannot be taught, but it can be ‘caught.’ ”

Although Bennis expressed dismay in On Becoming a Leader that corporate leadership appeared to be weakening due to extravagant executive compensation and a focus on the short-term at the expense of the long-term, he expressed more optimism in a piece he later wrote for Forbes in which he described the next generation of business leaders as “the Crucible Generation” who are less arrogant and more respectful than their predecessors:

The truth may be that history, in its kindness, gave this new generation a grand crucible challenge, as it did my own. … There are reasons enough for optimism. In just the past several years I have seen my classes of aspiring leaders move from an interest in endeavors characterized by self-interest toward a sense of shared responsibility for our society and world.”

 

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Sharing the Wealth

sharing moneyWith the debate over minimum wage still swirling, one university president is taking it upon himself to see that his lowest-paid workers’ salaries get a boost.

The Lexington Herald-Leader reports that Raymond Burse, interim president at Kentucky State University, is giving up more than $90,000 of his annual salary in order to increase the salaries of 24 KSU employees—some of whom were earning as little as $7.25 hourly—to $10.25 an hour.

Burse—who served as KSU president from 1982 to 1989 and was an executive at GE for 17 years—told the Herald-Leader that he and the KSU Board of Regents discussed his potential pay cut before the board met to approve his contract in late July.

Burse’s annual salary had been set at $349,869. That number now sits at $259,745, which seems to sit just fine with Burse.

“My whole thing is I don’t need to work,” he told the paper. “This is not a hobby, but in terms of the people who do the hard work and heavy lifting, they are at the lower pay scale.”

He was also quick to point out that the move isn’t simply a publicity stunt.

“You don’t give up $90,000 for publicity. I did this for the people. This is something I’ve been thinking about from the very beginning,” he said, noting the raise in pay for the affected employees will remain in place after a new president is selected.

Burse is also under no illusion that his counterparts in academia will begin sharing their salaries with employees on the lower rungs of the pay scale, and says his largesse “is not a poke” at other university presidents to follow his example.

“I was in a position where I could do that,” he told the Herald-Leader. “That is not always the case.”

Fair enough. And it’s safe to say Burse probably hasn’t started a trend here. But, whatever his reasons, give Burse credit for taking steps to beef up the paychecks of some of his lowest-earning employees, and doing so at his own expense.

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LinkedIn Pays Out $6M in DOL Case

LinkedIn Corp. agreed yesterday to pay $3,346,195 in overtime back wages and $2,509,646 in liquidated damages to 359 former and current employees working at company branches in California, Illinois, Nebraska and New York.

An investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division found that LinkedIn was in violation of the overtime and record-keeping provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

After announcing the amount of back wages and fines, a Department official quickly pivoted to praise for the company’s reaction.

When notified of the violations, LinkedIn agreed to pay all the overtime back wages due and take proactive steps to prevent repeat violations.

“This company has shown a great deal of integrity by fully cooperating with investigators and stepping up to the plate without hesitation to help make workers whole,” said Dr. David Weil, administrator of the Wage and Hour Division. “We are particularly pleased that LinkedIn also has committed to take positive and practical steps towards securing future compliance.”

LinkedIn failed to record, account and pay for all hours worked in a workweek, investigators found. In addition to paying back wages and liquidated damages, LinkedIn entered into an enhanced compliance agreement with the department that includes agreeing to: provide compliance training and distribute its policy prohibiting off-the-clock work to all nonexempt employees and their managers; meet with managers of current affected employees to remind them that overtime work must be recorded and paid for; and remind employees of LinkedIn’s policy prohibiting retaliation against any employee who raises concerns about workplace issues.

“ ‘Off the clock’ hours are all too common for the American worker. This practice harms workers, denies them the wages they have rightfully earned and takes away time with families,” said Susana Blanco, district director for the division in San Francisco. “We urge all employers, large and small, to review their pay practices to ensure employees know their basic workplace rights and that the commitment to compliance works through all levels of the organization. The department is committed to protecting the rights of workers and leveling the playing field for all law-abiding employers.”

“This was a function of not having the right tools in place for a small subset of our sales force to track hours properly,” Shannon Stubo, LinkedIn’s vice president of corporate communications, told Reuters.

The FLSA requires that covered, nonexempt employees be paid at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour for all hours worked, plus time and one-half their regular hourly rates for hours worked beyond 40 per week. The FLSA provides that employers who violate the law are, as a general rule, liable to employees for their back wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages. Liquidated damages are paid directly to the affected employees. Additionally, the law requires employers to maintain accurate time and payroll records, and it prohibits retaliation against employees who exercise their rights under the law.

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About to be Asked for a Raise? Feed the Source

A paper is being presented at the annual meeting of the Academy of Management in Philadelphia, which ends tomorrow, that I thought you might find interesting.

167422861 -- crazy hungryIt seems, according to researchers Emily Zitek of Cornell University and Alexander Jordan of Dartmouth College, the hungrier an employee is, the more entitled he or she feels and the more effective he or she can be in asking for a raise.

Their study, I Need Food and I Deserve a Raise, based on two experiments involving about 270 college students, finds that “hunger leads people to feel more entitled,” according to the report. “Hungry people think about themselves instead of others and focus on their own needs, which leads them to feel and act entitled,” it states. (Here’s the AOM press release about the study.)

The paper, according to the release, “defines psychological entitlement as ‘the feeling that one is more deserving of positive outcomes than other people are,’ and explains that ‘entitled individuals pay attention to themselves and the special treatment that they should receive over other things.”

While research “has tended to focus mainly on social and cognitive causes of increased entitlement, such as recalling an unfair event,” the report states, “the authors posit that it can also be driven ‘by amplified levels of a basic physiological drive — hunger — which may cause people to turn their focus inward and place their needs above those of others.’ ”

The authors’ advice? Feed them. It’ll help you in the raise discussion and can smooth some other workplace rough edges as well.

As the AOM report puts it:

… for the edification of bosses, the researchers observe that ‘entitlement can cause big problems in the workplace, so managers might want to provide food to employees or wait to schedule potentially contentious meetings until after lunch.’ They go on to note that, ‘although certainly due to a host of factors, organizations with readily available food, such as Google, are also known for having unentitled, grateful and satisfied [digestively and otherwise] employees.”

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