By Sue Estes GMA SHRM President
Having just attended GMA SHRM’s 2 nd Annual Human Capital Conference, I am still flying high with the energy of the day! Last evening I had the chance to review some of the handouts and notes I had from a great day of learning. Wow! I took away some great ideas and information! From Bill Schrum’s fantastic ride “back to the future” of HR to the practical seminars on HR metrics, coaching, email management, and other great topics, it really was an event that lived up to its title, “Investing in the Profession. Investing in You.” To top it off there was the energetic lunch keynote speaker, Jon Gordon, author of the book The Energy Bus, who got us all thinking about the ways we can bring more energy into our lives and our workplaces. For those who attended the conference, I hope you shared my positive experience of the day. The “icing on the cake” for me, however, was the energy created by so many HR professionals coming together. I saw old friends greet each other and new friendships begin. As Jon Gordon said, we need to surround ourselves with positive and supportive people to continue to generate positive energy. There certainly was a group in attendance who met this description.
Setting aside my obvious prejudice as a member of your Board, I don’t think anyone could argue what a great value the local conference was and I do hope those of you who were unable to attend this year will consider joining us next year for the Human Capital Conference. For those of you who did attend, I would ask you to join me in recognizing the hard work, dedication, and caring that the Conference Committee put into planning and producing the event. Many thanks to Vicki Kampmeier for leading this committee and those who served with her: Pat Schliesman, Pat Miller, Magda Bartoszewicz, Kim Gethers, Sharon Harkins, Courtney Davidson, and Steve Anderson.
Now nearing the end of my term as President for GMA SHRM I would like to share some reflections of the past year, offer my visions for the future of the Chapter, and acknowledge some special people.
Looking back on the year, here are some of our chapter accomplishments that tie into our mission, vision, and standards (http://www.gmashrm.org/website/mission.shtml):
- Leadership Development opportunities for Committee and Board Members.
- Quality programs for members such as the Wednesdays in the Park events, PEGs Meetings, and Monthly Chapter Meetings with keynotes and workshops, as well as the full day Human Capital Conference.
- Local Net conversion to an online professional networking tool, making it even easier to connect with other members on specific topics.
- Support of youth and community groups with the Chapter’s Workforce Readiness programs.
- Production of local Compensation and Benefits Surveys.
- Recognition of the history of the chapter and our profession through celebrations of the chapter’s 50 th anniversary, including reflections from our Past Presidents.
- Member Orientations to connect people and learn about member benefits.
- HR expertise shared with the community through media and chamber of commerce connections.
- Engagement of our 80+ volunteers to support the initiatives developed during the last Strategic Planning Session.
- Dedicated Board Members who have made decisions impacting the Chapter’s financial well-being and member satisfaction.
As to my vision of the future for the chapter, I see that GMA SHRM will continue to respond to members’ needs and developing services that will benefit the membership and the community. Under the leadership of our incoming President, Anthony Dix, I expect you will see an emphasis on quality programs and community outreach. Anthony brings with him tons of enthusiasm and a sincere commitment to making a difference in the profession and to the Chapter.
In closing, I would like to recognize my fellow Board Members, our many volunteer leaders and committee members, and our Chapter Administrative team for making this year such a wonderful experience. We have worked together to support our members and in the process developed close friendships with each other. I appreciate the opportunity that you, as GMA SHRM members, gave me to serve as your Chapter President. It will be an experience I will never forget. Thank you and have a great summer!
GMA SHRM President
P.S. For those of you who have followed my trend of including a “Blast from the Past” in honor of the chapter’s 50 th Anniversary, here is this month’s offering from the November 4, 1966, archives of TIME Magazine titled “A Good Man is Hard to Find…So They Hire Women”.
Yes, we’ve come a long way, baby!
The HR Lesson Learned From Watching TV
By David R. Friedman, Friedman Law Firm
Television was once called a “vast wasteland.” However, once in awhile you can learn something from TV.
A few weeks ago, on an episode of “Boston Legal,” there was reference to a love contract. The law firm asked the two unmarried partners, who were dating each other, to sign a love contract. I thought the show’s writers made up the idea. Well it turns out they did not. (I have also been told this same contract was mentioned on the TV show, “The Office.”)
About 10 years ago, the love contract was developed to protect employers from sexual harassment complaints when a consensual office romance went sour. This type of contract has the potential to limit the company’s legal exposure especially where the romantic relationship is between a manager/supervisor and a lower-level employee.
A company is liable for workplace sexual harassment where a hostile work environment exists or where the employer’s action involves a quid pro quo. Both of these legal concepts might be available to the “rejected” partner in the relationship.
A love contract is similar to a prenuptial agreement. The primary purpose of such an agreement is to limit employer liability and help prevent sexual harassment lawsuits. A "love contract" typically spells out that the relationship is mutually agreeable, consensual, and unrelated to the company; that the couple is aware of the policy against sexual harassment and know how to use it; and that they agree to settle any relationship dispute through binding arbitration and not a lawsuit.
The idea behind a love contract is to protect the company from a sexual harassment complaint, but the underlying issue is how a company deals with employee workplace romance. The love contract may provide a partial answer. Some companies have instituted no-fraternization policies—sometimes known as no-dating policies. Before implementing any love contract or other restrictions on workplace romance, there are policy and legal implications that need to be carefully thought out and discussed.
What we can also learn from TV is that it might be time for a review all of your harassment policies to make sure they are up to date.
In the mean time, try not to think about work the next time you watch a TV show.
The opinions expressed or implied are those of the author and may not represent the official position of GMASHRM. This article is intended for general information purposes and highlights developments in the legal area. This article does not constitute legal advice. The reader should consult legal counsel to determine how this information applies to any specific situation.
19 th Annual State Legislative and Legal Conference Recap
The Wisconsin State SHRM Council hosted another informative legislative and legal conference this year. For GMA SHRM members unable to attend, some highlights included:
Session With Members of the Assembly Labor and Industry Committee. Rep. Newcomer and Rep. Nass updated SHRM on pending legislation and possible new bills. Some hot topics:
- Minimum wage – pending legislation that would index the rate based on inflation
- Unemployment insurance – pending legislation to remove cumbersome steps for employers to win an appeal
- SB173 – to expand FMLA and cover military service
- SB165 – to allow discrimination suits to be filed in state court for damages even after a settlement with the Department of Workforce Development
If you are interested in the status of any of these bills, the state offers the Wisconsin Legislative Notification Service that will send you an email with updates. (See related story “Website of the Month”.) Both legislators encouraged human resource professionals to attend legislative hearings on HR-related bills. Since the legislators aren’t HR experts and can’t understand daily administrative challenges, input from HR can help craft more practical legislation.
Update on National Legislative Issues . Nancy Hammer from national SHRM Governmental Affairs talked about the political landscape in DC and the role of SHRM. She also reviewed pending federal legislation, notably:
- Employee Free Choice Act 2007 (H.R. 800) – amends the National Labor Relations Act to change the procedures under which employees choose to join a union. Passed the House on March 1.
- Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007 (H.R. 2) – amends the Fair Labor Standards Act to raise the minimum wage by $2.10 per hour over the course of 24 months. Passed the House and Senate.
- Security Through Regularized Immigration and Vibrant Economy Act of 2007 (H.R. 1645). This bill addresses illegal immigration, including border security and a guest-worker program. HR professionals may want to pay particular attention to the proposed Electronic Verification System based on the Basic Pilot program.
Similar to state legislation, SHRM is a welcome voice at hearings on federal issues. As the eighth largest professional association in the country, the expertise of SHRM and its members is well-respected on Capitol Hill.
What’s New and Scary in Employment Law. Bob Gregg from Boardman Law Firm provided a legal overview of legislative/administrative developments, trends, and interesting cases. Some highlights were:
- House bill (HR 6258) to expand the ADA. The bill will diminish the requirement that one be unable to engage in a significant life activity.
- New Wisconsin law (AB 736), effective May 2007, regarding drug and alcohol testing for contractors on state projects.
- Successful harassment suits from employees over pranks and jokes in the workplace.
- Privacy jeopardized by outsourcing. Congress has passed several laws to protect personally identifiable information, but the U.S. has few laws which cover electronic security and confidentiality outside its borders. Countries with the worst records of privacy protection are also the most attractive to U.S. corporations due to cheap labor costs.
Human Resources Legislative Update. John Metcalf, Director of Human Resource Policy at Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, reviewed the political landscape in Wisconsin and further discussed pending legislation in Wisconsin. The Wisconsin Supreme Court has a pending case, Geen v. Stoughton Trailers, which will question (again) what is a reasonable accommodation for disability under the Wisconsin Fair Employment Act (WFEA).
Wisconsin ’s Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund Stability. James Buchen, Vice President of Government Relations at Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, provided a history of the unemployment trust fund. Due to several factors, trust fund solvency is at a critical stage. The Unemployment Insurance Advisory Council, comprised of both management and labor, will need to make decisions soon which may increase the financing or decrease the benefits or eligibility to keep the fund solvent.
Strategic Planning -- A Necessity, Not an Option
The First in a Series on Benefit Plan Strategic Planning
By Adam Jensen, JD, CEBS, FLMI, Virchow Krause Employee Benefits
A growing trend in American business is the use of strategic planning, especially in the realm of employee benefits. Once a process utilized by only the largest employers, increasingly employers of all sizes now make strategic benefit planning a priority.
A number of factors have contributed to the increased need for planning. The spiraling costs of health care coverage in the U.S. has made employee benefit plans one of largest items on employers’ balance sheets after payroll. The increases in benefit plan costs have caused some employers to forego offering health care coverage to employees. A 2006 Government Accounting Office (GAO) report cites employer survey data to show that 74 percent of employers not offering health benefits cited high premiums as very important in their decision not to offer them.
Health and retirement benefits help U.S. employers attract and retain skilled workers; however, the costs of these benefits have accounted for an increasingly larger share of workers’ total compensation. Increased foreign competition has forced many U.S. employers to look for new ways to control or reduce costs in order to remain competitive. Increasingly, employers are using strategic planning as a means of taking control of the costs and expenditures associated with their employee benefit plans.
Another factor driving the need for strategic planning is the changing composition of the American workforce. Two large factors in this changing composition are the aging of America’s babyboomers and the move to using contingent workers. Babyboomers, generally recognized as persons born between 1946 and 1996, currently make up a large block of the American workforce and they are beginning to retire. Traditionally, many employers have offered medical benefits to retirees. The combination of constantly rising health care costs and the looming retirement of the babyboomers still in the workforce mean that employers must have a strategy to deal with the coming expense. An increasing share of retiree health benefits costs is being shifted to retirees and many employers have simply terminated benefits for future retirees. Employers must analyze their situation and develop an appropriate strategy to fit their individual business model.
U.S. business has increasingly used contingent workers, including agency temporary workers, contract company workers, day laborers, direct hire temps, independent contractors, on-call workers, self-employed, and part-time workers. Contingent workers are often not allowed to participate in traditional employer benefit plans. Some employers now offer their contingent employees “mini-medical” plans that provide more limited coverage at lower premiums than traditional medical plans in an effort to attract and retain their contingent workers.
Doing Nothing is Not an Option
The need to control costs and still offer benefits valued by employees has created a fundamental shift in how employers view their benefit plans. Years of double-digit cost increases have made benefit plans too expensive to ignore and have forced employers to think about their benefit plan offerings more than once a year at renewal time. Rather than being an after-thought, benefit plans are now the subject of multi-year strategies, often involving wellness plans to cut health care costs and boost productivity that are tailored to fit an employer’s culture and business goals.
Coming up Next
In the next installment, we will address how to get started with strategic planning by assessing the current state of a benefit plan and then developing a road map with a conceptual design that incorporates appropriate performance measures. Future installments will deal with solution build and implementation followed by strategy rollout and adoption.
Adam P. Jensen is a Senior Consultant with Virchow Krause Employee Benefits, LLC and has worked in the insurance and employee benefits industry since 1986. Adam specializes in providing regulatory compliance and plan design services for health and welfare plans and qualified retirement plans. He also advises executive clients on non-qualified deferred compensation issues.
Website of the Month: Wisconsin Legislative Notification Service
To keep up on state legislation affecting human resources, click here to sign up for the Wisconsin Legislative Notification Service. You can track specific bill numbers, committees, or general subjects. As an HR professional you currently may want to track SB173 and SB165 (see article above on state legislative conference). If you want to track committees related to the HR field, Labor, Elections and Urban Affairs (Senate) and Labor and Industry (Assembly) would be the best choices. Possible subject-related notifications might include “health care”, “minimum wage” or “unemployment insurance”.
2007 GMA SHRM Professional Scholarship Winner Announcement
The Board of Directors is very happy to report the results of the 2007 GMA SHRM Professional Scholarship. This year’s recipient, Jackie Falch, is pursuing her HR Certificate from the Madison Area Technical College. Jackie is actively involved within GMA SHRM and the Membership Committee and in the Community with a variety of volunteer activities. Congratulations Jackie and we wish you the best in your continued professional development.
We would also like to thank the eight other applicants for this year’s professional scholarship and encourage everyone to apply again next year. This is by far the best response we’ve had to the professional scholarship since its inception three years ago. All of the applicants have excellent credentials, are willing volunteers within GMA SHRM and the Community, and supportive of the Human Resources professional.
The SHRM Foundation has doubled its scholarship funding and will be awarding a total of $100,000 to SHRM members, chapters and state councils. $50,000 in scholarships was awarded in 2006.
Applications are now being accepted for the following scholarships. Deadline to apply: July 16, 2007.
- 60 Certification Scholarships of $750 each
- 40 Academic Scholarships of $1375 each
The scholarships are awarded through the local SHRM regions. Applications will be judged in the following five groups:
- Northeast Region
- Southeast Region (and former Caribbean Atlantic Region)
- North Central Region
- Southwest Central Region
- Pacific West Region (and former Asia Pacific Region)
Each group has a total of $20,000 to distribute in scholarships annually which guarantees that there will be scholarship winners in every region. Twelve certification scholarships of $750 each and eight academic scholarships of $1375 each will be presented in each group.
All national SHRM members pursuing a college degree in human resources or working towards SPHR, GPHR or PHR certification are eligible to apply. (Note: SHRM professional, general or associate members may apply; however student members and local-only members of chapters are not eligible for this scholarship program.) In addition, chapters and state councils are eligible to compete for the scholarship money to fund programs that promote SPHR, GPHR or PHR certification locally.
Go to http://www.shrm.org/foundation/EducationGrants.asp.
Recruiting Tactics for Winning the War for Talent
by Sue Abler, Senior HR Director, MRA
It was only a vague concern several years ago, but now many employers are feeling “the pinch” caused by the changing employment climate. It is harder to find the right people for the job, and competition for their skills can be fierce. Creativity and persistence are needed to reach and recruit the best people for the jobs you have available. The market is aggressive. Many employment journals and Web sites like to showcase the “in-your-face” or guerrilla tactics as the new and best methods. For many employers, “anything goes” is not their desired approach. So give some thought to how you will fight the battle.
Several factors in today’s employment climate contribute to the need for creative recruiting tactics. The aging workforce and the expected retirement of millions of baby boomers are anticipated to result in a skill shortage among available workers. The speed of change is staggering and contributes to the skill shortage because it is difficult to train workers fast enough to keep up with the rate of change. The global context shifts as the world “flattens” as huge leaps are made in technology. In addition, generational issues are a challenge to recruiting because different age groups are attracted by different employer offerings.
Consider the following creative suggestions for recruiting:
- Target market by going to the people. For example, if you need to hire machinists, figure out where they go for fun. Advertise there or have staff go there.
- Hold job fairs—both traditional and virtual. Reserve a movie theatre and hold a job fair before the featured movie.
- Offer unique scheduling to allow more consecutive days off.
- Appeal to senior workers by offering phased retirement, flexible schedules.
- Utilize public bulletin boards at libraries, grocery stores, and college unions.
- Connect with a teacher of English as a second language for a good pipeline of future employees.
- Hire a creative writer for your job ads and postings.
- Advertise in trade and lifestyle publications.
- Have an employment page on your corporate Web site. Many people who buy your product may love to work for you too.
- Strengthen relationships with your state’s job service and with a staffing agency.
- Offer referral bonuses; hold a contest for the most referrals, ask new hires who else is good.
- Interview where the people/candidates are: malls, movie theatres, ball games, movies.
- Target companies that are downsizing.
- Keep in touch with former employees for referrals or rehire.
- Have the applicant write his or her own offer letter; reward applicants for fast acceptance of job offers.
- “Home grow” great employees by hiring students and interns.
- Increase your company profile by networking, making public presentations, or offering workshops that may attract job candidates.
- Guarantee an interview if candidates come at certain times to apply. Think about other ways to offer on-the-spot interviews.
- Loosen the restrictions in your policy on hiring relatives of employees.
- Check association resume banks.
Of course, retaining your current good employees should be a priority. Satisfied employees are productive, a great source of referrals, and relieve recruiting headaches by reducing the number of positions to be filled.
Sue Abler is Senior HR Director with MRA. For over 10 years she has been assisting members in harnessing the power of their workforce. Sue has applied her experience and acumen in several capacities including as a Human Resources Professional providing on-site assistance to members, and as Director of Career Services. She has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in industrial relations.
Welcome New Members!
GMA SHRM welcomes the following members who joined our chapter in April.
Carla J. Anderson, SPHR
Vice President, HR
WETA Public TV/Radio
Katrina L. Gierhart
College & Community Relations Specialist
Alliant Energy Corporation
James P. Halloran
Kathy M. Hume
Melissa E. Moser
Adecco Employment Services
Lynette M. Peck
Amy M. Plaza-Baji
Dory S. Quinlan
Goodwill Industries of South Central WI
Christine M. Ralston
Carolyn M. Tadder
Employment & Training
State of Wisconsin-Job Service
Jamie E. Wackerlin, SPHR
Precision Devices Inc.
Have you started with a new company? Has your organization recently promoted you to a new position? Or do you want to recognize a new person or promotion within your department? If so, we want to hear about it. Send us an e-mail, and we’ll publish your good news in the next HR InTouch!
HR InTouch Guidelines
Do you have an interest in writing for the HR InTouch? We have an interest in learning more about your area of expertise!
Why should you volunteer? Top three reasons: 1) to share your knowledge and experiences to educate others; 2) to become more connected in the HR and Dane County communities; and 3) to contribute towards the advancement of GMA SHRM and the HR profession.
The first step is for you to choose a submission option: you can pre-submit an article to GMA SHRM at any time for us to use in any of the upcoming newsletters, you can sign up to write for a particular month, or we can put you on a list of people to contact in future months whenever we need articles.
Because the HR InTouch is now in an online format, the size is flexible. The article should be engaging and hold readers’ attention. Include the core information in your article, and we will advise if it is too lengthy.
GMA SHRM is conscious not to allow solicitation through the articles, in an effort to protect the interests of our partners and members. The nature of the article should be educational (i.e., what are the business advantages of having a product like yours) or informational. Otherwise, if you truly are interested in advertising through the HR InTouch, you can work with our Marketing Committee. As a rule of thumb for article writing, if the submission relates to a for-profit event, or specifically markets your company (vs. your industry), it is an advertisement, and should be purchased. If it is a not-for-profit event that your company is hosting, or an announcement (i.e., a SHRM member recently joined your company), it is an acceptable addition to the HR InTouch content. If you have any questions related to the appropriateness of your submission, please contact us.
If you have questions, or to submit an article, contact GMA SHRM at email@example.com .