Thursday, October 28, 2010

Money, Markets, Stress and Productivity

You work hard to get ahead and ideally put yourself in a better financial situation and ultimately to retire to a comfortable lifestyle.

You know that saving and putting money away is important and you do it when you can.
You wonder if you are doing the right thing.

You are bombarded all day everyday by the 24 hour news and the investerati that you need to do this and you better not do that. It’s confusing to say the least.

Studies show that employees waste a lot of time. Some studies put the figure at as much as one hour a day. In addition, those same studies show that as much as half of that time is spent on personal finance.

Opportunity cost or economic opportunity loss is the value of the next best alternative foregone as a result of making a decision.

When employees choose to engage in activities other than work while at work, they have made such a choice. Besides the time and productivity decrease, it is virtually impossible to know what they may have achieved during that time.

When the activity chosen at work is personal finance however, we can say beyond any reasonable doubt that they have chosen an activity which is not only detrimental to their employer but detrimental to themselves as well.

While it is great to see people taking an interest, it is entirely unhealthy for a business to have its employees re-balancing their 401k, day trading, calling their stockbroker, stock picking and monitoring the stock market.

And what’s worse is that it’s all likely to no avail since every study on the subject shows that passive investing beats active investing over any reasonable time-frame, especially given the lowering of index fund fees.

Engaging in an activity at work that isn’t work is a waste of valuable productive time but to engage in an activity that has been proven to be counterproductive is hard to imagine but it happens every day in every office.

The solution is simple. Consider the fact that over 90% of professional money managers cannot beat the simple S&P 500 index.

There is an abundance of evidence that suggests that simply buying an index fund (either ETF or mutual fund) will not only save you a fortune in fees over a lifetime but increase your investment results. Furthermore, you will personally be better off as well having more time and less stress.

About our Guest Author:

Scott Barclay is the author of ‘How the Investment Business Really Works’ ( and is a sought after speaker and workshop facilitator.

Mr. Barclay worked for some of wall street’s biggest firms and knows how the investment business really works. He graduated from the University of Alberta in Psychology and Physics and has completed graduate work in both finance and organizational behavior from McMaster University and the University of Texas at Dallas.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

3 Tips for Executive Development

Leaders are suffering from their own business hangover. During our recent political in-fighting and economic uncertainty, businesses have had their nose to the grindstone striving to do more with less. Everyone was so focused on surviving and cutting, they're just now looking up and realizing they have no clear next steps, limited vision and no energy.

AmyK, who has worked with Martha Beck (Oprah's Life Coach, bestselling author and columnist for O), National Geographic, IBM, John Paul Mitchell Systems, to name a few, offers you, our readers, these t
hree quick and easy tips for executive development that any business leader can practice to immediately improve his/her leadership performance:
  • Focus on energy, not time. Time is a constant; energy is a manageable, renewable resource. What's sucking out your energy and what refuels it? Your answers will influence your strategy for energy management within the constraints of time.
  • Leadership happens one conversation at a time. Slow down and ask better questions. Focus on thought-provoking questions over reports. In meeting prep, devote at least five minutes to think of three to five questions that will lead to a more productive, more thought-provoking meeting. These five minutes will save you hours down the road.
  • Create internal alignment. Step back and ask yourself: What am I resisting? What am I judging? What am I attached to? Answer these three questions and you'll gain clarity, insight and a foundation for momentum.

About our Guest Author:

With over 700 presentations to 20,000+ executives in seven countries, AmyK Hutchens serves as an Intelligent Activist and business strategist to leaders around the globe. AmyK is a former senior EVP of operations for a leading sales and marketing firm, director of education for Europe and Australia for a 900 million dollar consumer products company, and chosen member of National Geographic's Educator Advisory Committee. She is the winner of five Telly Marketing Awards and the Summit International's Award for Creativity (2008) and a featured guest on NBC, Fox and ABC for her brain-based commentary on current events.

Monday, October 25, 2010

When the whole is greater than the sum of its parts: The intrinsic benefits of Group Think

New Study by Carnegie Mellon, MIT and Union College documents how collective intelligence of groups surpasses the cognitive abilities of the individual group members and that the tendency to cooperate effectively is linked to the number of women in a group.

The authors of the study confirmed the hypothesis that groups, like individuals, have a consistent ability to perform across different types of cognitive tasks and that the effectiveness of a group can, in fact, be predicted in many situations. Because the effectiveness of a group is derived by how well its members work together, it was also proven that in groups where one person dominated, the group was less collectively intelligent than groups where the conversational turns were more evenly distributed. Moreover, it was noted that groups containing more women demonstrated greater social sensitivity (social sensitivity is how well group members perceive each other's emotions) and greater collective intelligence compared to teams containing fewer women.

By extrapolation, the study postulates that it’s possible to improve the intelligence of a group by changing its members, by teaching them better ways of interacting or by giving them better electronic collaboration tools. The bottom line is that it is not the individual intelligence that will make the group succeed, but how the collective intelligence is harnessed together with the right mix of social sensitivities.

Questions to ponder:
  • Based on the findings of this latest research, how do you encourage group thinking in your business?
  • Or do you encourage it at all?
  • Do all of your teams look alike or are their demographics such that you too can predict the effectiveness of the group?
  • How do you help your groups to sharpen their thinking and therefore to improve their effectiveness?
  • Finally, do you have tools in place to measure the effectiveness of your teams?
We will be discussing these questions and more on our Facebook page.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Workers Compensation "Payroll" Inclusions and Exclusions

Today we present an article on Worker Compensation Inclusions and Exclusions from our Guest Author: John Keller, CRM ARM CIC AAI

Throughout my work consulting with businesses in all aspects of Workers Compensation, I’m always asked a basic question about WC payroll, so I thought I’d elaborate for all. Most of us know that Workers Compensation premium is a function of rates and payroll by classification code. Because this is relatively straight forward, it’s easy to gloss over “what is considered ‘payroll’ for workers compensation purposes?”

Incorrect payroll has a direct impact on Workers Compensation premium, and it’s critical that the correct payroll be used. Under-report payroll and you’ll have a large, nasty audit bill hit you 3 months after the policy expires (100% due in full, by the way); over-report payroll, and you drag down your cash flow throughout the year, and then have to claw for your money back at the audit.

Below is a comprehensive list of the inclusions and exclusions for “payroll” as defined by the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI):

Inclusions in payroll for Workers Compensation insurance:
  1. Wages or salaries, including retroactive wages. (Check with your insurance company auditor to have them provide state caps on individual weekly wage) Not capping individual wages is a common cause for over-reporting.
  2. Commissions and draws against commissions
  3. Bonuses including stock bonus plans
  4. Extra pay for overtime work, with exception
  5. Pay for holidays, vacations, or periods of sickness
  6. Payments by an employer of amounts required by law to be paid by employees to statutory insurance or pension plans (like Federal Social Security)
  7. Payments to employees on any bsis other than time worked, such as piecework, profit sharing, or incentive plans
  8. Payments or allowance for hand tools or power tools used by hand and used in their work or operations for the employer
  9. The rental value of an apartment or house provided for an employee
  10. The value of lodging, other than apartment or house, received by employees as part of their pay
  11. The value of meals received by employees as part of their pay
  12. The value of store certificates, merchandise, credits or any other substitute for money received by employees as part of their pay
  13. Payments for salary reduction, employee savings plan, retirement, or cafeteria plans that are made through employee-authorized salary reduction from the employee’s gross pay
  14. Davis-Bacon wages or wages from a similar prevailing wage law
  15. Annuity plans
  16. Expense reimbursements to employees to the extent that employers’ records do not substantiate that the expense was incurred as a valid business expense
  17. Note: when it can be verified that the employee was away from home overnight on the business of the employer, but the employer did not maintain verifiable receipts, a reasonable expense allowance, limited to $30 day, is permitted
  18. Payment for filming of commercials, excluding subsequent residuals

Exclusions in payroll for Workers Compensation insurance:
  1. Tips and other gratuities received by employees
  2. Payments by an employer: (1) to group insurance or pension plans and (2) into third-party pension trusts for the Davis-Bacon Actor or similar wage law (pension trust must be qualified under IRC Sections 401(a) and 501(a)
  3. The value of special rewards for individual invention or discovery
  4. Dismissal or severance payments, except for time worked or accrued vacation
  5. Payments for active military duty
  6. Employee discounts on goods purchased from employer
  7. Expense reimbursements to employees to the extend an employer’s records substantiate the expense was a valid business expense
  8. Note: reimbursed expenses and flat expense allowances, except for hand or power tools, may be excluded from the audit if all three of the following conditions are met: (1) the reimbursed expenses were incurred upon the business of the employer, and (2) the amount of each employee’s expense payments is shown separately in the record of the employer, and (3) the amount of each expense reimbursement approximates the actual expenses incurred by the employee
  9. Supper money for late work
  10. Work uniform allowances
  11. Sick pay to an employee by a third party such as an insured’s group insurance carrier that is paying disability income benefits
  12. Employer-provided perks such as: (1) use of an automobile, (2) an airplane flight, (3) an incentive vacation (e.g. contest winner), (4) a discount on property or services, (5) club memberships, (6) tickets to entertainment events
  13. Employer contributions to salary reduction, employee savings plans, retirements, or cafeteria plans (IRC 125) – contributions made by the employer that are determined by the amount contributed by the employee
I hope this helps you have a good understanding of what to include and what not to include in reporting payroll to the WC insurance company. Since payroll is used (directly and indirectly) as a factor in determining everything from premium, the Experience Modification Rate (EMR), deductible levels and aggregates, Min/Max on retrospective plans, and tracking ratios like frequency rate, it’s critical that payroll is understood and submitted correctly.

This article can also be found on John Keller's Hub by clicking here.

About our Guest Author:

John Keller is a Certified Risk Manager and consultant with Praxiom Risk Management in Tampa, FL. Praxiom is a full-service outsourced Risk Management consulting firm specializing in Workers’ Compensation safety, loss prevention, claims management, insurance placement, and is comprised of veterans of the risk management and financial services industry. Praxiom works with clients nationwide. Comments and questions are welcome at Click here for John's full bio.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Leadership Roles: a process of co-construction

A new research article published in Academy of Management Review suggests that leadership identities are assumed by individuals in an organization through a process of co-construction. The mechanism appears to work as follows. In their social interactions, individuals either claim, grant or, it would seem, assign leader and follower identities to themselves and, relationally, to their colleagues. According to the paper's authors, "through this claiming-granting process, individuals internalize an identity as leader or follower, and those identities become relationally recognized through reciprocal role adoption and collectively endorsed within the organizational context."

It is not enough if every time during a team meeting, one member of the team takes it upon herself to delegate the majority of the tasks discussed to her peers. What is needed is co-construction. That is, in order for the team member who does the delegating to assume the identity of "leader", her peers must submit to the delegation; they must "grant" that the identity / role is appropriate through reciprocal adoption of the role of follower. By assuming the role of follower, they, in turn, confer a leadership identity upon the other. Thus, their roles are co-constructed. It takes two to make a leader.

How does this conceptualization of leadership challenge received wisdom on the topic of leadership development? Further, how does this affect our methods of identifying high potentials in the organization?

DeRue, D. Scott; Ashford, Susan J.. Academy of Management Review, Oct2010, Vol. 35 Issue 4, p627-647

You can also join the discussion of this topic on our facebook page.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Can HRM Practices Boost Employees Job Satisfaction?

A joint study by the Colorado State University and the Texas State University highlighted the relationship between perceived favorability of HRM practices vs. job satisfaction, and the extent to which trait entitlement alters that balance. While it appears that there is a direct link between perceived favorability of HRM practices and high employee job satisfaction, offering more or better HRM practices will not automatically yield increased job satisfaction as employees expectations differ with regard to what they feel they deserve.

Bottom line, employers need to consider other factors than just employee satisfaction when deciding what HRM practices to implement.

Do you have a particular success story related to HRM practices that you would like to share? You can leave your comments here or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

Zinta S. Byrne, Brian K. Miller and Virginia E. Pitts. "Trait Entitlement and Perceived Favorability of Human Resource Management Practices in the Prediction of Job Satisfaction.” Journal of Business and Psychology, Volume 25, Number 3 (2010): 451-464

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Discussion Boards

We have added discussion boards to our Facebook page. These boards will facilitate an open and constructive dialog on the topics presented on this blog.

Connect with us Here and let's get the conversation started!

Current discussion board topic:

The post by Jim Moniz (Recruiters: making strong connections) argues that recruiters must have a handful of important characteristics but that, most importantly, they must catalyze a "happy marriage" between employer and employee. This most important characteristic also seems like the most tricky and hardest to nail down.

What's your method for ensuring a good fit? How about when you hire over the internet? How can you ensure a good fit when you have never met the the candidate in person?

Monday, October 11, 2010

Recruiters: making strong relationships

Getting the job filled with the right person may be the ultimate goal of a recruiter, but instilling trust and confidence in clients should always precede that target.

At the core of this challenging profession is the desire and skill to understand clients’ needs, specific industries and the geographical landscape of placement territory.

A “good recruiter” never rests on the laurels of past performance – its opening night every day for those in the recruitment business, and having more than a passing knowledge of the industry in which they
specialize is paramount.

Many recruiters get into the business after enjoying a career in the industry for which they recruit – this rings true particularly in recent years within the high lay-off high technology realm. Having the ability to “speak” a client’s language cuts down on potential miscommunication and in due course the time it will take to make that working match. In addition, recruiters who have been personally involved in a specific industry understand how to best locate candidates for a particular geographical area.

Recruiters with the right stuff know the impact of trust. A client company should never have to worry about being left out in the cold if a new hire doesn’t work out. A dependable recruiter will be there with “replacement warranty” in hand to make sure that this bump in the road is smoothed out in the short distance.

Beyond building relationships with clients and candidates, recruiters must have integrity. They will never steal candidates from one client to “sell” to another and will always be available to clients to iron out problems.

And the cream of the recruiter crop will take the time to understand a client company’s corporate culture. It should never be about merely filling a position – it should always be about filling it with the right candidate, one who will meet the needs of a client and in turn make for a happy “marriage” between employer and employee.

About our Benefits Installment Author:
James E. (Jim) Moniz, CEO of Northeast VisionLink, a Massachusetts firm that specializes in structuring executive compensation. James E. Moniz is a national speaker on the topic of wealth management and on executive compensation. Jim Moniz will be presenting at this years SHRM conference in Phoenx, be sure to check out our presentation: “Creating and Sustaining a Competitive Advantage, The Role and Impact of Effective Compensation and Rewards Strategies”

Friday, October 8, 2010

Recruiting 2.0: A Guide to Success in the Web Jungle

The Internet provides for a diverse and individual recruitment program in which the new functionalities of what is called Web 2.0 can be used successfully. However, for many organizations, Web 2.0 is new territory and not every recruiter is proficient with its features. Yet, one thing is certain: The new Web 2.0 methods for communicating with applicants over the are better, faster, cheaper and modern.

Learn about Recruiting 2.0 in 2 stages: Stage 1 leads you through the basics of recruiting 2.0 using concrete examples in an interactive, conference style, webinar. Stage 2 will help you personally with the selection and installation of the Web 2.0 technologies that successful recruiters use worldwide for free.

Stage 1 - Web Conference (Webinar)
• What is Recruiting 2.0 in practice?
• What are the most successful online features of Recruiting 2.0?
• Alternative forms of candidate selection.
• New information technologies in the background: Funnel model for Talent Management
• What will be expected in the future from recruiters?
• Duration: about 90 minutes

Stage 2 - Web-Coaching Webinar

• Individual training in dealing with Webcams
• Installation and testing of selected Web 2.0 technologies on your computer
• Accompanied by a Recruiting 2.0 project
• In-depth Q&A
• Duration: variable

In developing these Webinars, HR-Meter has spoken with HR executives from around the globe about their experiences, done comparative research on the benefits of all of the tools and procedures we discuss and have even made use of them in our own recruiting processes.

PLEASE NOTE: Unlike many of the free Webinars on this topic, HR-Meter will never uses informative Webinars like these to sell products, software or advertising.

To register, please visit the official website by clicking here. The registration form is located at the bottom of that page.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

HR-Worldview is now on Facebook

Dear Subscriber,

I just wanted to let you know that we are in the process of improving the content of our Blog! We intend to make more regular posts, feature more highly experienced guest authors and facilitate a more robust discussion of the topics at hand.

In order to help with discussion, we have decided to create a Facebook page. We will make all of our future HR-Worldview blog posts available on our Facebook page as well as pose pertinent questions about the topic!

But we need your help to make this a thriving community.

So, connect with us on Facebook and let's get the conversation started!

HR-Worldview Team

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Performance or Learning Orientated Employees: Who Is Best For An Organization?

A joint study conducted by the Universities of Houston, Georgia, and Connecticut, confirmed that when employees face changes the performance typically is diminished until the new work habits are assimilated. However, those motivated by “performance” view a positive evaluation of their performance by others higher than the actual learning process vs. those who embrace the idea that “learning” would improve their abilities in the long run. The article is provocative in that it suggests that employees motivated by learning rather than performance are more desirable but it also offers an interesting strategy for bringing around those who are purely performance oriented.

Do you know what motivates the employees and managers around you?

How would you introduce changes in your organization if your employees were mostly performance-motivated?

Ahearne, M., Lam, S. K., Mathieu, J. E., & Bolander, W., “Why are some salespeople better at adapting to organizational change?,” Journal of Marketing, 74 (May 2010): 65–79

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Globally integrated, flatter, and leaner: the profile of a thriving global company in 2020

In September 2010, the Economist Intelligence Unit published the results of a quantitative study that demonstrated how the speed of change brought on by the evolutionary technological changes, the globalization of markets and the recent economic realities have forever redefined how companies must operate in 2020.

Because "speed" will increasingly become the keyword for success, companies will see a paradigm shift toward a more "just in time workforce" vs. a permanent workforce. Hiring local managers will guarantee an expeditious and seamless integration in new and emerging markets and HR will be a critical link between the centralized decision making authorities and the globally decentralized branches. Is your company ready for 2020?

"Global firms in 2020. The next decade of change for organizations and workers," Economist Intelligence Unit. Sep 2010: 1-32.