MARCH SPECIAL DAYS
Companies That Care Day -
Kick Butts Day - Choose from one of the three or combine them all together. Create a wall as a memorial to lost loved ones from tobacco, create graffiti expressing your thoughts towards big tobacco, or create a pledge wall for people to pledge to quite tobacco and support those who are trying to quit.
Alternatives to Layoffs
I know this seems like a strange one for the Recruit section — but quite often when we layoff, we recruit for other positions remade to fill the void. Why do this when there are alternatives that will save you money?!
The recent front-page story in the New York Times followed similar stories in the Wall Street Journal and on National Public Radio and other outlets about companies pursuing alternatives to layoffs that would cut costs in other ways. I can't remember getting as many calls from reporters on a single topic as I have recently asking about these alternatives.
The idea that there are alternative ways of handling the need to cut costs without laying off individual workers is actually a very old story. In fact, up until the mid-1980s, the idea that an employer would dismiss workers permanently -- that they were not expected to come back after business picked up -- was so rare that the Bureau of Labor Statistics did not even keep track of such cuts.
The term "layoff" in those days meant temporary job losses: Unionized workers, but even some non-union employees, would be paid supplemental benefits during the period of layoff not just to be nice to them but to keep them from taking another job someplace else. As soon as business picked up, the companies wanted to bring those temporarily furloughed workers back as fast as possible, the same workers into the same jobs.
Rehiring took place, based on seniority, in part to make sure that the most experienced workers stayed with the company. The benefits from this, of course, were that the company could get going again really fast, and the costs of hiring new workers and training them were eliminated as were the learning-curve problems of waiting for the performance of new hires to get up to speed.
After the 1981 recession, the term "layoff" shifted from its original meaning of a temporary job loss from which workers could expect to be recalled to a permanent separation with no prospects for recall.
It was in this period that more creative alternatives to layoffs flourished. The most prominent of these alternative approaches was wage cuts, often negotiated by unions under the guise of concessions to existing union contracts, but the goal was always to reduce permanent job losses.
The range of other alternatives was impressive — reduced hours of work (and pay), job sharing where the same job would be split into two part-time positions, cutting back on outsourced work and the use of vendors to make work for regular employees whose normal tasks were no longer needed, etc.
Given the steepness of the current downturn, it isn't surprising that there would be a lot of attention directed at layoffs and their alternatives. Further, there is at least some circumstantial evidence that the need to keep your workforce together by avoiding layoffs is even more important now than in the past.
One reason is that most companies just spent the last few years struggling to recruit and retain the workforce they need. To lose them voluntarily seems like shooting yourself in the foot. The second reason is that all the liquidity that governments around the world began pouring into markets beginning in September will start to hit the global economy soon, and the predictions are that the pickup in business will happen even faster than in the past.
So here's the amazing thing: Despite the extraordinary pressures to cut costs, the knowledge from decades past about alternatives to layoffs and the contemporary concerns about losing skilled employees, almost no one is doing anything about it!
When we look carefully at the stories about the few companies pursuing alternatives, we see they are mostly very small, privately held companies, many of whom have never had a layoff in their history. The few big companies that are cited, Motorola, for example, are, in fact, laying off employees; they are just cutting other things as well.
The best example of a significant company that is pursuing real alternatives to layoffs is FedEx, where they are cutting wages to reduce costs. What is particularly important about the cuts at FedEx is that the cuts are even bigger for executives: 10% for executive pay, five percent for everyone else. (Fed Ex also announced for the first time that it will not be advertising in the Super Bowl, another very public effort to save money.)
Why are so few companies pursuing any alternatives to layoffs? Why has the interest in these alternatives declined so much over time? It isn't because the alternatives don't save money: A 5% salary cut saves much more money than a 5% layoff because there are no severance payments; the legal liability and associated costs are much less; and the savings come instantly without the agonizing administrative process of figuring out who has to go and getting them out in a dignified manner, etc.
Morale might actually improve through a collective effort to save jobs, certainly as opposed to the morale-killing effects of layoffs and, of course, the ability to ramp up when business improves is dramatically accelerated.
What's striking to me is not just that almost no companies end up pursuing these alternatives. It is that they don't seem to even consider them.
I don't know, for sure, why this is, but it does seem to me that, in part, many companies move first to layoffs because they think the investment community wants them to do so.
The financial community isn't especially aware of alternatives and the benefits associated with them, and their focus is very much on the immediate financial performance, not how the companies will respond when business improves.
The fact that virtually every company, despite their varying circumstances, ends up pursuing exactly the same approach to cost-cutting suggests that the processes involved have more to do with psychology – herd mentalities – than to any rational processes.
From Human Resource Executive Online, 1/8/2009
What Happens to People Who No Longer Work in Their Profession?
Old accountants never die, they just lose their balance.
You Bring Lunch on Monday, I’ll Bring Lunch on Tuesday...
Help your staff save money.
the great idea?
Who's doing it?
What are people saying?
From Associations Now magazine, January 2009
Be Efficient, Whatever the Budget
A recent white paper from KnowledgePool, a U.K. training consultancy, said organizations with staff of 2,000-plus can reduce learning and development expenses by 30% by following best practices and working efficiently.
At Gates Corp., a manufacturer of industrial and automotive parts, today's environment has meant constraints on training travel. "It's forced us to look for more creative ways to deploy training content," said Kathy Wojcik, Gates' manager of leadership development and learning.
"We're doing more Web-based training, webinars and consolidating training in the field to focus on what's really needed by the business. Self-paced and on-demand learning are also on the rise. We're evaluating the impact of these changes so we can make smart long-term decisions about training deployment."
If layoffs occur, the remaining people likely will experience fear and stress from the change and risk overwork from picking up extra responsibility. It's important to support employees through training and development.
Communication may initially take precedence over training in the early stages of cutbacks. But once people understand the situation, don't overlook how training and development programs can help.
"We know our learning and development activities have improved employee engagement. People feel emotionally connected to the business because we invest in them," said O'Toole.
Just as a stock market decline presents an opportunity for investors to regroup before future gains, a down economy presents an opportunity for training and development.
"It's the challenges that teach the best lessons," said Wojcik. "The decisions we make today will shape our future.
Excerpted from Talent Management Magazine, Jan 2009
GENERATION Y: Get More Work and Better Work Out of Fewer People
by Bruce Tulgan
Help Them Keep Score
Think about a video game that a Gen Yer might practice and practice, beating one high score after another, set by himself. He wins every time, and nobody has a reason to feel bad. That's the kind of competition Gen Yers are looking for: they want to compete against themselves in a safe environment where they can try over and over again to improve on their own performance benchmarks. When it comes to competitiveness at work, this is what one Gen Yer had to say: "I'll do whatever they want me to do. Just tell me someone is keeping track of all this stuff I'm doing. Tell me I'm getting credit for it, that I've been racking up points here like mad. Tell me someone is keeping score."
When Gen Yers know you are keeping track of their day-to-day performance, their measuring instinct is sparked and their competitive spirit ignited. Keeping close track of their work tells them that they are important and their work is important. The process motivates them to perform because they want to get credit, score points, earn more of whatever there is to earn. "I was managing this very young team of programmers," a senior manager in one of our nation's intelligence agencies started to tell me. "For the first few months, our weekly team meetings were great, but after every meeting, the programmers would come up to me one by one asking for feedback on their individual work. I kept trying to address this in the team meetings by asking each of them for status reports in our meetings. But one by one, they would come see me after the meeting to ask for individual feedback. Finally, in one of the team meetings, I asked the group about it point-blank. They all said, 'We all want to know how we are doing, individually.' So I said to them joking, 'Do you want me to give out gold stars when you do a good job?' And they all nodded affirmatively. They were very cheerful about it, but I was having a hard time with it. But I started giving out gold stars to them, individually, in the team meetings, and they loved it. They started asking all the time, 'Do I get a gold star for that?'"
I've heard stories like this over and over again from managers of Gen Yers in a whole range of industries. Yes, they want to earn gold stars. Just remember that if you are going to give out gold stars or points of any kind, you have to make it very clear every step of the way exactly how those points can be earned-or lost. You need a system.
The Point System
How does the system work? The warehouse manager laughed: "Everybody is always trying to get points, especially the young guys. We've got a very young group in the warehouse. These guys are practically climbing over each other when a truck pulls in. The young guys want to get their points. Some of them want to work all day and make more money. Some of them just want to get their points and get out of here for the day. But they all want to get those points. I just sit back and let [the points] do most of the management work."
Similarly, the founding partner of a small advertising firm told me that she started giving out "extra points" to associates "for above-and-beyond performance on very difficult projects." She told me, "At first, I didn't even know what I really meant by extra points. But I'd usually come back with a bonus check, so the points came to mean something." The practice was so popular among the younger associates that the partner started attaching points to projects in advance. "After a while, just about any task, no matter how small, was eligible for extra points. If you get something done very fast, you might get extra points. If you really do a fantastic job on something, that's extra points. It's for above-and-beyond performance. And it's worth money."
Am I saying you should create a point system or start giving out gold stars to your Gen Yers? If you can think of easy ways to convert the performance you need from your young employees into a point system, then maybe you should consider it. I promise you, a point system will get Gen Yers focused like a laser beam. If you want them to start showing up earlier for work, attach points for every minute they arrive early, and take away points for every minute they come in late. If you want Gen Yers to meet quality standards, give them checklists of every detail and specification, and give points for every detail and specification completed-and take away points for every one missed. If you want Gen Yers to speed up, set a realistic quota of tasks per hour and give points for every task done over the quota-and take away points for every task under the quota. And so on.
Keeping Track Informally
Another approach is to help Gen Yers keep track of their own work by using self-monitoring tools like project plans, checklists, and activity logs. Gen Yers can monitor whether they are meeting goals and deadlines laid out in a project plan, make notations within checklists, and report to you at regular intervals. Activity logs are diaries that Gen Yers can keep, noting contemporaneously exactly what they do all day, including breaks and interruptions. Each time he or she moves on to a new activity, the Gen Yer might note the time and the new activity. By using these tools, Gen Yers can document their own hard work every step of the way and build their own track record of success.
Negotiate Special Rewards in Very Small Increments
By the time Gen Yers arrive at the workplace, short-term transactional thinking is second nature to them. They are still thinking like customers. Sometimes when I point this out to managers, they'll say, "Yeah, well, they're not paying us. We are paying them. So what currency do they bring to the transaction? They can do as they are told." I agree with that 100 percent.
Of course, you want to get more work and better work out of every one of your Gen Yers. For their part, Gen Yers want to earn more of what they need and want. The best solution? Plug into Gen Yers' transactional mind-set. Stop paying them and start buying their results, one by one. The more you trade results for rewards, the more reliable their performance will be. The smaller the increments you buy in, the more effective it will be. "I had this manager who would always say to me, 'What do you need from me?' a Gen Yer told me. "I'd always know she was going to get me back with, "Great. Here's what I need from you.' She did that with everybody. She knew I needed the money and went out of her way to help me make more money, which was really great of her."
The critical element when it comes to rewarding Gen Yers is letting them know that rewards are tied to concrete actions within their own direct control. This might remind you of the old-fashioned pay scheme called piecework in which individuals are paid an agreed-on amount for each defined unit of work they produce. The seamstress might be paid per stitch or per finished garment. The accountant might be paid per tax return prepared. The computer programmer might be paid per line of new code written. And so on. The key to your success will be defining those measurable pieces of work and setting a price per piece.
Traditional Compensation Versus Short-Term Rewards
This was no doubt a fair question and one that is on the minds of a lot of managers. Perhaps if given the choice, many Gen Yers would actually opt for a safe lifelong employment relationship with secure, long-term vesting rewards. The problem is that you won't find any Gen Yers who actually believe that this is a real option in today's world. To them, it sounds like an absurd claim on its face-largely because it is. Therefore, most Gen Yers are concerned about all the rewards they might be able to extract from their immediate boss in the short term. However, Gen Yers are also acutely aware that the compensation systems and language of their employers almost always revolve around the traditional elements of compensation and benefits; pay scales or salary, health care plans, eligibility for 401k or pension plans, and the like. They often ask about traditional rewards because they are aware that you only know how to talk about traditional rewards-they figure at least the conversation will make sense to you. They also want you to think they care about the reward system you seem to care so much about. Finally, they figure they might as well get everything they can out of that system, even as they are making their other more idiosyncratic requests.
The answer, then, is, sure, they want more of everything. But the real performance drivers for Gen Yers are the short-term, special rewards you negotiate in exchange for their short-term above-and-beyond performance. A senior engineer shared this story with me: "One of the engineers on my team, a young lady who talked about little else but flextime and work-life balance, pretty much dropped everything for two months and lived here around the clock working on a killer deadline for me. Why? I arranged for her to take six weeks off, two unpaid, in a row after the project was finished. That was all it took. She was here around the clock for two months, then she disappeared for six weeks and came back happy as could be. The other two guys on that team? They just wanted a bonus check." He concluded, "They all want something different. But they all want something, and most of them are willing to work for it."
Negotiating Rewards in Small Increments
The best approach is to negotiate these special rewards in very small increments. You want to be able to say, "Okay. I'll do that for you tomorrow if you do X for me today." Work a particularly undesirable shift? Work longer hours? Work with a difficult team? Do some heavy lifting? Work in some out of the way location? Clean up some unpleasant mess? Then deliver the reward in question as soon as you possibly can. Immediate rewards are much more effective with Gen Yers because they provide a greater sense of control and a higher level of reinforcement. Gen Yers are likely to remember the precise details and context of the performance and are therefore more likely to make the connection the next time the desired performance is called for. Plus they won't spend time wondering if their performance has been noted and appreciated, and they will therefore be less likely to lose the momentum generated by their short-term success.
Most managers have more discretionary resources than they realize at their disposal. These are often resources that can be deployed as special short-term rewards. What extra funds are available to you that you might be able to use for special short-term bonuses? What can you do to improve work conditions in the short term for your employees? How much latitude do you have to make special short-term accommodations in employees' schedules or paid time off? How much control do you have over extra training opportunities? Can you offer exposure to decision makers? How hard is it to have a written commendation added to an employee's file? There are many extra rewards managers have in their control, and you need to use every resource at your disposal.
That does not mean that everything is open to negotiation. You should be rock solid on your basic standards and requirements. What is not negotiable? What is essential? What is not acceptable? That's your starting point. From there, take control of the ongoing negotiation and help Gen Yers earn those special rewards they want so much. In the process, you'll get so much more, and better, and faster work out of them, one day at a time.
Used with permission of Bruce Tulgan, Founder/Chairman,
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www.AmericaSupportsYou.mil has a list of hundreds of organizations that support the military. The Yellow Ribbon Fund is one such group and focuses on injured service members and their families.
PODCAST: MORE GREEN TECHNOLOGIES FOR THE OFFICE, http://www.Inc.com/keyword/jun08
has great tips on green cleaning.
Going Green At Work
B.I.G. ON BOOKS is an organization that promotes literacy in underprivileged countries, primarily Africa, Eastern Europe, and Southeast Asia. You can donate books through most Rotary Clubs. B.I.G. also accepts cash donations. Send email to Steve Frantzich at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Kicking World Hunger is the biggest soccer juggle-a-thon in the world (uh, that we know of), much like a walk-a-thon, but more fun! Participants sign up to juggle a soccer ball thousands of times while raising money to provide hope for children and communities that desperately need it. http://www.firstgiving.com/kickingworldhunger
Charity Navigator (http://charitynavigator.org) is an in-depth, searchable guide to more than 5,000 charities worldwide that aims to encourage "intelligent giving". They rate charities based on their total expenses, revenues, and organizational capacity. If you want to give, but the recent slew of charity scandals has you feeling skeptical about where your money would go.
Take Pride T-Shirts (http://www.takepride.com) was founded by a group of friends who all share the belief that the more difficult the mission facing our military, the more deserving they are of our thanks and support. Each unique shirt design provides a glimpse into the life of a different US Service member who served in Iraq or Afghanistan and is hand silk-screened. The message of the shirts isn’t political, it's about acknowledging, celebrating, and taking pride in the spirit of young Americans who despite facing an extremely difficult job and unpleasant conditions, nonetheless strive to do their job well. Take Pride gives at least 20% of profits to charities and causes that assist combat veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan.
Set a reminder to visit http://www.thebreastcancersite.com daily and click this button to help underprivileged women get mammograms.
volunteermatch.org helps you
find organizations in your area that spark your interest in volunteering.
Old Cell Phones
Recycle PCs, cell phones, printers, CDs diskettes, etc., with GreenDisk. For $29.95, they send a 70-pound-capacity box. When it’s full, you download postage from their website and ship it back. Your “junk” then goes to workshops for the disabled and are refurbished. http://www.greendisk.comm
Recycle PCs and other computer products at Hewlett Packard and Dell. See their websites for details.
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