Education Off the Playing Field

FKudos to the Indiana University Kelley School of Business for the recent announcement of a partnership with the National Football League Players Association. Career development, certificate and degree graduate level program options are part of the mix for current and former players.

Preparing young people for life off the field is a very good thing. Astonishingly, media reports have indicated as many as three-quarters of NFL players are bankrupt within five years of retirement. Details are in this press release.

This is only the latest example of Indiana institutions and businesses working with athletes. The current BizVoice magazine spotlights Indiana University East and its online program for tennis players (including Venus Williams) and the Language Training Center’s work with LPGA golfers.

Financial Fitness for Freshmen

The following Money Management column is provided jointly by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Indiana CPA Society as part of the CPA profession’s nationwide 360 Degrees of Financial Literacy program.

As you get ready to go away to college for the first time, this is a good time to expand your knowledge of day-to-day money management, including smart budgeting and debt management steps. The Indiana CPA Society offers these tips to students who want to get through college with the right financial footing.

Start on a Budget

You may be surprised at the high everyday costs of college, including books and supplies, daily living expenses and travel to and from school. That’s why it’s a good idea to get a sense of what you will spend – outside of tuition costs – before you begin each semester. Include savings you plan to use, any money you may receive from your family and the income you can expect from any jobs.

According to a Nationwide survey, the average student income is about $1,400 a month from part-time jobs and parents. Semesters usually last about four months, so divide your projected total to determine how much you can spend each month, after deducting the amount you can expect to pay for books at the beginning of the semester. It’s also a good idea to track your actual spending throughout the semester, so that you can more accurately project and adjust your budget for the years to come.

Get What You Need

Once you know your income, determine a list of expected expenditures each month. Be sure to remember the difference between wants and needs. Textbooks and supplies are clearly mandatory, but weekend trips, nights out and new clothes are not. Even a car can quickly drain your resources if you’re cash strapped.

Feed the Pig, the AICPA’s financial literacy site aimed at young people, recommends recording every time you make a purchase so that you get a good sense of where your money goes. Then categorize all the items, to see if you’re spending as much on morning coffee as you are on weekend entertainment. These steps allow you to understand where you might need to cut back or reconsider your spending choices. If you’re honest about your real necessities, it will be easier to create a workable budget, and find ways to save.

Avoid Credit Card Debt

College seniors with credit cards graduate with an average of $4,100 in credit card debt, according to the Nationwide survey. The importance of budgeting is clear when you see the consequences of spending beyond your means. Many students use credit cards to stretch their spending money, but given the high interest rates involved that can be a costly choice.

For example, if you have a $4,100 credit card balance, at an 18% interest rate and you make a $200 payment each month, it will take you 25 months to pay off that balance and it will cost you a whopping $836.27 in interest, money you could have spent on other purchases or put aside in savings. That debt is a big burden to carry, especially since so many graduates also have significant outstanding student loan debts.

Debt can make it more difficult to find or afford your own place or to qualify for an auto or other loan. The best advice: If you’re going to reach for the plastic, make sure it’s a debit card. That way you will spend only what you have in your bank account now and avoid overextending yourself.

Your Local CPA Can Help

College is an exciting time that offers many new experiences, including managing your own money. If you or your family has questions about financial topics, be sure to consult your local CPA. He or she can help you address all your important financial concerns.

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.