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.

Safety is the Name of the Workplace Game

Two sets of workplace safety numbers to consider:

  • In 2012, there were just over 500,000 nonfatal injuries and illnesses among a U.S. manufacturing workforce of 11.2 million. In that year, 314 manufacturing employees were killed in work-related accidents.
  • Twenty years ago (in 1994), the totals were: 2.2 million nonfatal injuries and illnesses (the manufacturing workforce was 18.3 million) and 789 deaths from occupational injuries.

Are the 314 deaths too many? Undoubtedly. But in 18 years, the manufacturing injury rate was cut by nearly two-thirds and the fatality rate was more than 50% lower.

Kudos to the companies and employees putting a greater emphasis than ever on safety (more than 75% in a recent survey indicated their companies to beyond the safety requirements of government laws and regulations). And keep it up as all of us want to continue to see smaller numbers in these categories.

By the way, it’s never too early to look ahead to the 2015 Indiana Safety and Health Conference & Expo — simply the largest and best event of its kind.

Trying to Make Sense of College and Jobs Numbers

The bad news from the Bureau of Labor Statistics is that fewer high school graduates had opted for college as of October 2013. The good news was that more grads had jobs or were at least actively looking — but maybe that’s because they weren’t pursuing post-secondary education.

The New York Times tries to explain:

Last October, just 65.9 percent of people who had graduated from high school the previous spring had enrolled in college. That was down from 66.2 percent the previous year and was the lowest figure in a decade. The high point came in 2009, when 70.1 percent of new graduates had gone on to college.

At the same time, there were some encouraging signs in the report, which is released annually. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 51 percent of the high school graduates who did not go on to college had jobs by October, and that 74 percent were in the labor force, meaning they either were employed or were looking for work.

Those figures may not sound high, but they are up from the last couple of years, and may be an indication that the labor market has improved at least a little.

On the other hand, only 43 percent of new high school dropouts were part of the labor force in October, a figure that was the lowest for the last 20 years, the period for which the figures are available. But there was an increase in the proportion of new high school dropouts who had jobs, to 31 percent from 24 percent in 2012, which could be another indication of an improving economy.

The figures are volatile from year to year, partly because they come from the bureau’s household survey.

Still, there seems to be little doubt that the long-term trend of more and more high school graduates going to college has halted, if not reversed. As recently as 1976, the enrollment figure was below 50 percent. It rose to 69 percent by 2005, and since then has fluctuated.

Another validation for the importance of the Indiana Chamber’s Indiana Vision 2025 plan and its Outstanding Talent driver.

On the Right Jobs Track

Indiana’s employment picture has brightened considerably in recent months. Some numbers behind the numbers, according to the Department of Workforce Development:

  • There are over 30,000 more Hoosiers in the labor force than in March of 2000, the employment peak in the state
  • Indiana’s labor force has grown at six times the national rate over the past year
  • The number of unemployed Hoosiers (196,272) is less than 200,000 for the first since August 2008
  • Since July 2009, the low point in recent employment numbers, Indiana has added 214,600 private sector jobs (10th in the nation) at a rate of 9.2% (seventh in the nation)
  • In the manufacturing world, the state ranks third in jobs added over the past year (behind Michigan and Ohio), second (behind Michigan) in jobs added since July 2009 and ninth in growth rate over the past year