My Chamber Experience

The time has come to finish all of my projects, clean and pack up my desk and head home briefly before returning to school for my senior year. My internship is nearly over.

After spending an incredible 11 weeks at the Chamber, it’s hard to say goodbye. I started this internship knowing that the Chamber advocates for Indiana business and works to better the state, but I didn’t realize the extent to which it does so. I also didn’t know how many amazing people comprise the Chamber staff and how much I would learn in a little less than three months.

I’ve had the opportunity to conduct interviews with top Hoosier business leaders, and I feel like I’ve gained a better understanding of different business issues. I’ve gotten the chance to work with talented writers who have lent their valuable insight and advice.

I was fortunate enough to have a supervisor who pushed me to do my best and always improve. I was able to challenge myself to try new writing styles and juggle different assignments at once.

At the beginning of my internship, I was eager to assure my business-savvy dad that the Chamber seemed to be a place I would enjoy for the summer. Now, as I get ready to leave, I’m happy to say my assumptions were correct. Not only have I learned a great deal about my writing, but I’ve received a better education on Indiana business.

Leaving Indianapolis will also be difficult. A Mishawaka native, it was great to have the chance to live in Indy for the summer and experience everything the city has to offer. However, I’m confident that this is not the last I’ll see of Indy. I hope to return once I graduate.

Ending my internship is bittersweet, but I’m glad that I can leave knowing I had a great experience. I feel like I’ve found a career path I want to pursue and have gained the knowledge and skills that I will need.

Helping Veterans Make the Career Transition

Despite some recent improvement, unemployment rates for veterans — especially those who served post-9/11 — remain much higher than the national average.

Hiring Our Heroes is a nationwide initiative of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. It was developed to help veterans, transitioning service members and military spouses obtain meaningful employment. The program will be hosting a hiring fair at the Amtrak Beech Grove Shops on September 18.

The event is free for both employers and job seekers and will focus on careers in the rail transportation industry. The job fair will take place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and an employment workshop will be held at 8:30 a.m. Sessions at the workshop will include resume building and writing, as well as interviewing techniques.

The Indiana Chamber’s 24th Annual Awards Dinner in November 2013 featured a salute to the military and veterans theme. In May, the Chamber conducted a Policy Issue Conference Call focused on employment for veterans and military spouses.

New Indiana Fair Employment Poster a Required Change

The Indiana Fair Employment Poster (released by the Indiana Civil Rights Commission) has been changed to add veterans as a protected category and prevent discrimination against them. This stems from House Enrolled Act 1242.

It is against the public policy of the state and a discriminatory practice for an employer to discriminate against a prospective employee on the basis of status as a veteran by:
(1) refusing to employ an applicant for employment on the basis that the applicant is a veteran of the armed forces of the United States; or
(2) refusing to employ an applicant for employment on the basis that the applicant is a member of the Indiana National Guard or member of a reserve component.

We are updating our poster sets to comply with this mandatory change.

You can order our new Indiana state/federal poster sets online, or contact customer service at (800) 824-6885 or customerservice@indianachamber.com.

Better yet, make life much easier for yourself and join our FREE poster subscription service!

Company Perks — and the Employees They’re Meant For

Sometimes I get a little jealous when my husband comes home and tells me of some of the really impressive perks he gets by working at one of Indianapolis’ top technology companies — eight-time Best Places to Work in Indiana honoree Interactive Intelligence. Like the one day he got to end the workday with a cold beer and a cupcake (right?). Or the day he came into work and there was a blanket fort built above their cubicles (I made him send me a picture of that one). Or basically any of the days he goes into work in a t-shirt and shorts (what?).

I found this article from the Wall Street Journal about which employees some of these perks at technology companies are actually meant to entertain and keep around. It’s not the sales or marketing people, or the support staff – it’s the engineers.

A candid interview with the CEO of a Seattle-based realty and tech firm relays that the company knows what it needs to offer to attract the best talent – and extending those perks to the entire company ensures no bad blood forms. The CEO also notes that company-provided lunches are opportunities for the technology teams and the sales teams to get together and talk – which often means the tech people have a good idea of what types of technology products their co-workers need.

An interesting point the CEO brings up is that employees seem to get used to the perks … to the point of entitlement, even.

Each year, we recognize the state’s top employers through the Best Places to Work in Indiana program (attention: nominations are open for the 2015 program, through November 21). And every year we comb through the results of the employer questionnaires to put together profiles and interesting stories for BizVoice® magazine. There have been some really impressive perks noted along the way.

And while the afore-mentioned CEO brought up the issue of entitlement (which may very well be the case on the West Coast), I’ve spoken with many employees of the Best Places companies throughout the past four years and overall I get the sense of a humble gratitude for their employers providing the benefits and perks that they do. On the flip side, the employers also talk about how they are grateful to be able to provide happy and productive workplaces that are often centered on treating people well and supporting family-friendly environments.

If nothing else, it’s a good reminder not to take for granted any of the perks or benefits your company provides.

Don’t forget to apply for the 2015 Best Places to Work in Indiana program! Visit www.bestplacestoworkin.com for more information.

Managing Millennials

Born in 1993, I’m pretty certain I’m considered a member of the sometimes disreputable and misunderstood Millennial generation. As more Millennials are entering the workforce, some of their workplace habits have been under scrutiny, as coworkers and managers consider Millennials to be different from previous generations. I was surprised to run into an article combating some of these notions, or at least questioning them.

The Harvard Business Review article centered on four common blanket statements made about Millennials:

  1. They’re completely different from “us” at that age.
  2. Millennials want more purpose at work.
  3. They want more work-life balance.
  4. Millennials need special treatment at work.

The basis for the article’s conclusions came mainly from research done by Jean Twenge, a professor of psychology at San Diego State University and the author of “Generation Me,” and her fellow researchers. Peter Cappelli, the George W. Taylor Professor of Management at the Wharton School, also offered his insight based on his studies of research done on Millennials.

All of the abovementioned statements were proven false aside from number three, which was found to be “somewhat true.” The basic conclusion was that Millennials are not drastically different from previous generations and the perceptions that they are derive from the age difference. In other words, Millennials are not that different from Baby Boomers when they were in their 20s and 30s.

However, when managing people, it is still helpful to recognize the differences that age can present, because people’s needs change as they progress through different stages of their life. What’s important to you when you’re 24 is not the same as when you’re 50.

The generational gap does not have to pose issues at work. In fact, Cappelli found in his research that teams composed of different-aged workers perform better, particularly because they don’t view each other as competition and instead collaborate to help each other.

ExactTarget Partnering With Mentoring Women’s Network to Pass the Torch for Women

ExactTarget employees are making the pledge to Pass the Torch for Women.

Mentoring Women’s Network is holding its Pass the Torch for Women event and luncheon on August 14 at Ivy Tech in Indianapolis. You can sign up online, and be sure to use the discount code INCHAMBER to receive $50 off the all-day ticket.

Following the Rules in Hiring Veterans

The Indiana Chamber’s monthly Policy Issue Conference Call in May focused on guidance in matching military veterans with available job openings. The American Jobs for America’s Heroes campaign, which is leading the way in that effort, has a publication for federal contractors to ensure they are meeting new guidelines.

American Jobs for America’s Heroes (AJAH) has published a free “business English” summary guide to the new OFCCP VEVRAA regulations requiring that 7.2% of new federal contractor hires are “protected veterans.” (This percentage will be updated annually by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs).

If a company has at least one federal contract with a value of $100,000 or more, then the company is subject to new regulations issued under the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Rehabilitation Assistance Act (VEVRAA) that went into effect on March 24, 2014.
This free AJAH Guide distills 60 pages of confusing regulations into an easy-to-follow guide for meeting VEVRAA requirements.

You can download it here:

“Businesses that capitalize on the employment of veterans are investing in long-term stability and proven reputations. They are investing in a network of extraordinary individuals with the training, experience and values every business is searching for. Let’s invest in the future of our nation by connecting business with veterans,” said U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), who authored the Foreword for the Guide. “The American Jobs for America’s Heroes campaign is an effective resource to help businesses accomplish this goal.”

The AJAH campaign enables employers to post jobs at no cost that are provided directly to military employment counselors in the National Guard and other military branches. These counselors are working one-on-one with military candidates to match them with postings. All services are free. You can register to participate in five minutes and access many free educational videos, booklets and webinar replays.

Questions? Contact: Steve Nowlan, Center for America, at 201-513-0379.

Making Those Meetings Work For You

We’re going to touch on an old subject with some new survey results and common sense ways to tackle an ongoing challenge.

Remember your last hour-long meeting? Chances are 15 minutes of it went to waste, suggests a new Robert Half Management Resources survey. Professionals interviewed believe 25 percent of the time they spend in meetings is unproductive. Respondents feel the most common mistakes meeting leaders make are not sticking to an agenda and lacking a clear purpose for the gathering.

The survey featured interviews with more than 400 U.S. workers age 18 and over and employed in office environments. Employees were also asked, “Which of the following mistakes do meeting leaders commonly make?” Their responses (multiple responses were allowed):

  • Not having a clear purpose or agenda: 30%
  • Not sticking to the agenda: 30%
  • Not ending on time: 20%
  • Not starting on time: 15%
  • Inviting people who don’t need to attend: 14%

Paul McDonald, senior executive director for Robert Half, said misguided meetings can do more harm than good: “An unnecessary or poorly conducted meeting can bring everyone down because attendees feel like their time is not valued. Leaders can avoid this situation by clearly establishing the purpose of the discussion, ensuring the right people attend and providing them an opportunity to contribute.”

Robert Half Management Resources offers the following five tips for leading effective meetings:

  • Review the invite list. Limit attendees to those participants who have a stake in the outcome of items on the agenda. Indicating “required” versus “optional” attendance lets employees know when their participation and input is necessary and can help them prioritize their time.
  • Keep on track. Good leaders ensure the agenda and any supporting materials are accessible and publicized in advance, and that the discussion remains focused. Be prepared to cut off or table an unrelated conversation until a later time.
  • Plan accordingly. If it’s an in-person meeting, make sure there are enough seats in the room for everyone. Leave time for setup and pre-meeting technology challenges that may arise.
  • Monitor time. Keep it short and sweet. If a standing meeting is booked for an hour each week, but it usually lasts just 30 minutes, consider rethinking the time allotted. If there’s not much to discuss, consider using email or a memo as an alternative to a meeting.
  • Finish strong. If anyone leaves the meeting wondering what the next steps are, you haven’t done your job as meeting host. Allow time for people to ask questions, and determine who has responsibility for each follow-up item.

Labor Issue Proves Costly; Could You Be Next?

A recent labor case has been in the news, in which a prominent coffee company has been deemed by the National Labor Relations Board to have illegally dismissed a problem employee because the staffer was “pro-union.”

However, here are some comments that worker reportedly made to his manager during one instance when he felt the manager should have helped during a busy period: “it’s about damn time”; “this is bull****”; and “do everything your damn self.”

Charming.

But since the employee in question had organized union protests and the manager included that fact in the reasons given for dismissal, the NLRB determined his firing was at least in part because of his union support. It ordered the company to offer this person his job back — and compensate him for loss of pay and benefits. It goes to show that common sense doesn’t always apply with today’s NLRB and labor issues.

Barnes & Thornburg LLP and the Indiana Chamber of Commerce are proud to offer the second edition of The Indiana Guide to Labor Relations. Last published in 2000, a great deal has changed at both the federal and state levels, as well as in the workplace. This is a comprehensive guide, illustrating how employers can deal effectively with all varieties of union issues. New updates in this edition include:

  • The NLRB’s recent attack on social media policies and disciplinary decisions
  • Updated discussion on how to defend against union organizing
  • Indiana’s right-to-work law
  • New union election rules being contemplated by the NLRB
  • Updated analysis of employers’ ability to lock out employees during bargaining

This book is available for $89, or $66.75 for Indiana Chamber members. It can be ordered online, or by calling (800) 824-6885.

Here are some other resources from the Indiana Chamber you may find helpful:

That Is a Lot of Years on the Job (Can Any Hoosiers Beat This Number?)

Long-time Indiana companies (we’re talking a really long time here), I have a challenge for you. It’s based on a recent article in IndustryWeek about one family’s ties to a Virginia employer.

An excerpt:

Every afternoon at 2 p.m., Jason Ayers leaves his home in Hampton, VA, and drives to his job as a machinist on the second shift at Newport News Shipbuilding (NNS), as he has done for the past three years.

In a world where people change careers seemingly in a heartbeat, Jason is the fourth generation of his family to work for NNS, a division of Huntington Ingalls Industries.

His father, William C. Ayers, still works at NNS in the same department as his son, but on first shift. Jason’s grandfather, R. D. Ayers, was a shipfitter for 36 years and his great-grandfather, Thomas, was a welding foreman for 33 years.

Remarkably, a member of Jason’s family has gone to work every day for 118 years to build the world’s most capable and highest quality warships.

The challenge: Can anyone match or beat that streak — 118 consecutive years with one family represented in the workforce? How about 75 years? Or maybe three or four generations?

Would love to hear some Indiana longevity stories.