Survey Seeks to Assist in Veteran Hiring

sThere are still more than one million veterans looking for full-time jobs with tens of thousands of soldiers leaving the military in 2016. Many employers aren’t getting the right information and networking help they need to successfully hire veterans, Reservists and National Guard members.

Center for America (CFA), a nonprofit, is conducting a national survey among employers to identify the specific problems that employers in different industries and locations are having in recruiting military candidates. CFA is funded by foundations and Phillips 66, so it is providing its help to associations and employers at no cost.

“We realize many resources to help employers hire veterans are too general, too complicated or too costly to really help them find and hire military candidates,” said Brig. Gen. (ret) Marianne Watson, director of Outreach for Center for America. “So, CFA is developing free, industry-specific networking and web-based education resources to make it easier and faster for employers to connect with the right military candidates.

“We are asking for your help to complete a 10-minute online questionnaire – anonymously if you wish – that will identify the challenges you’re having in hiring veterans,” said General Watson. “Hundreds of employers from all over the country are participating.”

Here is the link: www.surveymonkey.com/r/36PW85F_CFA (In the first question, please input the code – G444.)

CFA has been coordinating the American Jobs for America’s Heroes national campaign for four years under a written agreement with the Army National Guard in Washington, D.C.

Contact Steve Nowlan (snowlan@CenterForAmerica.org), president of Center for America and coordinator for the American Jobs for American Heroes campaign, with any questions or for free help with your veteran recruiting. Get a head start by downloading a free copy of CFA’s Best Practices Guide for Veteran Hiring at www.CenterForAmerica.org/bpg.html.

Applications Open for Promise Indiana

Promise Indiana (profiled in the March-April 2015 BizVoice magazine) is a community-driven framework for helping youth increase hope and build the assets they need to pursue education beyond high school. With support from the Indiana Education Savings Authority, eight Indiana communities are currently piloting Promise Indiana and the initiative will expand to include additional communities during the 2016-17 school year.

Business, education, local government and non-profit sectors each have a part to play in increasing educational attainment in your community by creating a college-going culture and helping youth establish college and career identity. Students with a dedicated college savings account in their name are seven times more likely to attend college; account ownership is a key piece of identity-building for youth at every stage of the educational pipeline. The Promise helps communities leverage support for families to begin saving for higher education and for youth to begin college and career discovery.

The Promise Indiana pilot is a unique opportunity to be one of the first communities in the state to receive operational support to launch the initiative and create meaningful outcomes for youth and families. Follow the link below to learn more about the Promise Indiana model and how your community can become one of the pilots selected for the 2016-2017 school year.

Promise Indiana pilot application: http://bit.ly/PromiseIndiana. Applications must be submitted online by February 12, 2016 (11:59 pm EST).

Questions about Promise Indiana or technical assistance with the online application can be directed to: Phil Maurizi, VP of Promise Operations, Wabash County YMCA, pmaurizi@wabashcountyymca.org, (260) 563-9622, ext. 406.

Cook: Politics Full of Surprises, but Obama Win Remains Most Shocking

Cook_CharlieCharlie Cook is editor and publisher of the Cook Political Report and a political analyst for National Journal magazine. Cook is considered one of the nation’s leading authorities on American politics, and The New York Times has called him “one of the best political handicappers in the nation.”

Cook will be the keynote speaker at the Indiana Chamber’s 2016 Legislative Dinner on February 9. (Get your tickets now!) I recently spoke with Cook for an evaluation of this very turbulent time in American politics. Here is an excerpt from the conversation.

In 2014, the GOP had a major shake-up when Eric Cantor, a member of leadership, was unseated in the primary. In Indiana, we had a similar shock in 2012 when Richard Lugar was ousted. What are some ongoing lessons for long-standing legislators to take from that? Is that mostly a GOP predicament due to its Tea Party elements, or are do you see any Democrats potentially dealing with primary turbulence in the near future?

Cook: Washington and Congress have never been beloved, and alienation is increasing. But it shows you have to be back in your state and your district, and really keep a tight feel on the pulse back home because it can get out from under you. Cantor was a bright, effective member, but he went on the national stage and became a major force in the national Republican Party. But to do that meant not going home and keeping fences mended as well as he should have.

Sen. Lugar had become this enormously respected figure in terms of international politics and the world scene, and a real statesman. But that came at a cost. And not having a home back in the state became symbolic of something.

So yes, there’s a “Tea Party versus The Establishment” dynamic in the Republican Party, but there’s an older dynamic of “going national” and maybe not tending to things back home quite as attentively as you have to in an era when people are so suspicious of politicians. But there’s certainly more volatility and anger within the GOP right now than there is in the Democratic Party. Although Sanders and the Occupy Wall Street movement shows it does exist in the Democratic Party, it’s more profound in the GOP. We’re not seeing Democratic incumbents knocked off in the primaries at the regularity we see in the GOP.

What shocked you as far as the most surprising election result you’ve seen in the past 20 years?

Cook: I think Obama beating Clinton. There were signs early on that he had a unique appeal with younger voters … but to have someone who had just barely been a member Congress upset one of the biggest names in the Democratic Party, it was one of the biggest shocks I’d ever seen.

In some ways, freshman senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz – although philosophically they’re very different from where Obama was – (remind me of that) but the idea of a first-term senator doing that well was unprecedented. It showed you that a lot of the old rules may not be applying.

Report: ‘Made in the USA’ Movement Reigniting as Companies Return

made in usaAmerican consumers are asking for more American-made products, and businesses are listening, according to a new report from Grace College Online.

After reportedly losing 2.3 million manufacturing jobs between December 2007 and February 2010, the sector has rebounded as more companies bring operations back to the country. And nearly half of Americans have made a special effort to buy products made here.

Although marketing may not be the primary motivation for companies to manufacture products in the United States, the fact that Americans love the “Made in America” label is compelling. It offers companies selling power.

According to Consumer Reports, nearly eight in 10 Americans would rather buy an American-made product than an imported one. More than 60 percent of customers are even willing to pay a 10 percent premium for domestic products. A Gallup Poll found that 45 percent of Americans made a special effort to purchase products made in the country.

In the Gallup Poll, the leading reason for buying American products was to support the country and for patriotic motives (32 percent). Keeping and creating jobs in the country (31 percent) was second, followed by motivations of it being good for the U.S. economy (20 percent). Thirteen percent purchase American-made products for superior quality.

“Patriotism and the pursuit of positive corporate images as standing behind the U.S. economy” are a part of what’s driving companies to bring manufacturing to America, MarketWatch reports. By producing domestically, companies gain customer support.

Four Areas Where Gov. Pence’s State of the State Address Missed the Mark

?????????????????????????????????????????The 2016 session of the Indiana General Assembly may be short in time but, as usual, there is a long list of important issues. In outlining his priorities in the State of the State speech, however, Gov. Mike Pence fell short in four key areas.

First is civil rights expansion. After appropriately listening to Hoosiers since last spring’s public relations crisis, the Governor failed to articulate a clear vision. His words, depending on interpretation, bordered on telling legislators to do nothing at a time when action is needed.

The Indiana Chamber went through a similar lengthy listening process as public policy committees, the executive committee and the full board of directors (all comprised of representatives of member companies) debated the issue. Once a final determination was made, the Chamber communicated the decision that the members had voted to support the expansion of civil rights to protect sexual orientation and gender identity. Although not popular in all circles, similar clarity was needed from the Governor.

In the critical area of infrastructure funding, the Governor advocated against the only long-term solution presented thus far because it included several responsible revenue increases. As an organization that works each day to create and maintain the best possible business climate, the Indiana Chamber does not go looking for tax hikes. But in this case, they are necessary.

Third, on education, the “let’s take a step back on ISTEP” remark goes too far. Indiana already has a new test that measures our new, stronger standards. The test needs rebranded, not revised, and administered correctly to achieve the desired results.

Finally, there was no mention of work share, a common sense program to support employers and employees in an economic downturn. It will be needed at some point and the best time to implement it is now.

The Indiana Chamber has and will continue to communicate with the Governor and his staff our positions on these issues, which we believe are in the best interest of the state’s economy, employers and workers.

Workers Crave More than Currency

domination concepts with apples

Losing weight isn’t always fun. Dropping the pounds is rewarding, but the journey can be tough. Very tough.

Wouldn’t it be nice to get paid for your efforts? It turns out that doesn’t always entice employees, according to a new study.

Here’s a taste:

The study, published in January’s issue of the journal Health Affairs, reported the results of a yearlong randomized controlled trial to test the effectiveness of financial incentives to encourage weight loss among 197 obese employees of the University of Pennsylvania health system.

Participants were asked to lose 5% of their weight. Each was assigned to one of four study groups. The control group wasn’t offered any financial rewards. The three other groups were offered an incentive valued at $550.

People in one group were told they would begin receiving health insurance premium discounts biweekly immediately after reaching their weight loss goal. In another group, the people were told they would receive biweekly premium adjustments the following year if they reached their goal. Volunteers in the final group were eligible for a daily lottery payment if they met their daily weight loss goal and weighed in the previous day.

At year’s end, no group had met the 5% weight loss target. Participants’ average weight was virtually unchanged, whether or not they had a financial incentive to lose pounds. Nineteen percent of participants did meet the 5% target, but they weren’t concentrated in any particular group.

Cook: America’s Political Infatuation Better than Indifference

Cook_CharlieCharlie Cook is editor and publisher of the Cook Political Report and a political analyst for National Journal magazine. Cook is considered one of the nation’s leading authorities on American politics, and The New York Times has called him “one of the best political handicappers in the nation.”

Cook will be the keynote speaker at the Indiana Chamber’s 2016 Legislative Dinner on February 9. (Get your tickets now!) I recently spoke with him for an evaluation of this very turbulent time in American politics.

Below is one of the questions (and stay tuned for more soon):

Perhaps I’m asking the wrong person, but do you think people pay too much attention to politics (compared to policy or other global affairs)? It seems like the presidential primary and election is such a long process in the U.S. – especially compared to Canada – and is always highly covered. Are we at risk of political fatigue in some way?

Cook: This is such an unusual election. Our campaigns are always long, and they’re getting longer. But that’s the nature of our elections. It’s not like a parliamentary system where the prime minister calls an election and five or six weeks later there is an election.

But it’s a combination of two things: 1. It is important who’s President of the United States. Whoever it is, whether we like them or not, we have to live with them for four to eight years; 2. It’s almost like a sporting event with people handicapping it the way they’d talk about a Colts game. I think it’s perfectly healthy. I’d rather people have a curiosity about it for a long time than they think it doesn’t matter. In that sense, some of the fascination with Donald Trump is healthy in that it’s channeling anger and alienation into the process, rather than people just throwing up their hands and giving up.

Now, I don’t think Trump will be the Republican nominee, and if I’m right, the question is: What will happen to those Trump voters who are alienated and angry? In the absence of Trump, will they withdraw from the process? That’s an important question.

Protecting the 401(k) Plan Sponsor

Money safety concept

According to Groom Law Group, since 2007 there have been nearly 40 lawsuits about fees and expenses paid by employees in 401(k) plans. Of the 40 fee and expense lawsuits filed since 2007, a few have actually been adjudicated through the courts, some have been dismissed and several have been settled out of court. For the lawsuits that have been settled or adjudicated, the amounts have been in the tens of millions, not to mention the legal fees that are incurred.

What should companies do?

Below are items that we believe are prudent processes that plan sponsors should follow:

  1. There should be a clear governance structure that delineates who appoints retirement plan committee members and also a process to monitor the plan’s fiduciary committee.
  2. Fiduciaries should look, at least annually, for lower cost investment options for the plan. The same investment option may have several ways it can charge fees which come with different requirements that can change over time. This makes the process of conducting a regular review so very important.
  3. A review of service providers on a regular basis helps keep costs and services in line with industry changes.
    a. Service provider fees should be benchmarked on a regular basis.
    b. Requests for Proposals should be conducted at least every five years to make sure that fees and services are in line with industry standards.
    c. Service providers should be skilled and have adequate experience in providing the needed services.
    d. Service providers would include (but are not limited to) record keepers, advisors, trustees, custodians, and plan auditors.
  4. A regular review of the investment options and categories offered to participants should be conducted.

A 401(k) plan is a great vehicle to help employees prepare for retirement and, for most employees, it is one of the only vehicles available to them (other than social security). In my opinion, the 401(k) is one of the most successful wealth accumulation vehicles created in history. Americans have accumulated trillions of dollars toward retirement simply by taking money from their paychecks on a regular basis and putting it away for their retirement years.

Douglas G. Prince is CEO and a principal at ProCourse Fiduciary Advisors, LLC.

Report: Work Share Program Would Have Positive Impact on Indiana

CYNJvbRUoAA_kOmA new report released today by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce encourages the state to implement a voluntary work share program, labeling it “a clear stabilizer during a business cycle.” Work share would enable employees to stay on their job at reduced hours during tough economic times and collect partial unemployment compensation.

The policy – currently in place in more than half the states – has enjoyed support on both sides of the aisle the last few years, but has yet to make much progress in the state Legislature. The Indiana Chamber hopes this research, led by Michael Hicks of the Center for Business and Economic Research at Ball State University, will help get the ball rolling to pass work share legislation. The research was conducted at the request of the Indiana Chamber Foundation and the Indiana Department of Workforce Development.

The overriding conclusion reached by Hicks is that a “work share program would reduce business costs for participating firms by reducing search and hiring costs, and would stabilize families and communities.”

He continues, “We anticipate that unemployment and earnings will suffer less volatility associated with an economic downturn. This may have longer term impacts by reducing long-term unemployment and increasing consumer spending and growth in sales tax revenues over the short run.”

The report notes that the manufacturing sector, particularly the medium-sized manufacturing firms, would be the ones using the program the most. Indiana remains the most manufacturing intensive state in the country.

These findings confirm what advocates have been saying for several years, remarks Indiana Chamber President and CEO Kevin Brinegar.

“The benefits are real and significant. Work share allows employers to maintain a skilled, trained and stable workforce, while at the same time, employees keep their jobs and benefits instead of facing unemployment and further financial uncertainty.

“There is no negative impact on the state’s unemployment insurance fund,” he offers. “Instead of paying full benefits to a smaller group of recipients, a larger group of employees will receive reduced benefits.”

Here’s an example of how a work share program unfolds. Instead of laying off 10 workers due to decreased demand, a company could keep the full workforce in place but reduce the hours of 40 workers by 25%. The impacted employees would receive three-quarters of their normal salary, as well as be eligible for partial unemployment insurance benefits to supplement their reduced paycheck and keep full benefits.

Brinegar explains that “work share is generally a temporary solution used by employers for no more than six months during an economic slowdown.”

Tom Easterday, executive vice president for Subaru of Indiana Automotive in Lafayette, believes now – while the state’s economic picture is still bright – is the perfect time to enact a work share program.

“If we wait until there’s another economic downturn to take action, then it will be too late. Businesses across Indiana may already be impacted and jobs will be in jeopardy. Now is the time to prepare by implementing an efficient and effective workshare program, so it’s in place when needed.”

In the report, Hicks replays the unfortunate domino effect that took place in Kokomo in 2009 when two large automakers (GM and Fiat-Chrysler) suspended manufacturing for two months. While they could afford to continue employment due to their cash reserves, their large supply chain of smaller companies could not and were forced to lay off employees.

“Work share would have likely enabled some of these operations to continue at a slower pace. … The commercial benefits would have accrued primarily to these smaller manufacturing firms and would likely have stabilized the Kokomo economy significantly during this time.”

Brinegar reveals that early estimates place the annual costs to establish and operate a work share program in Indiana to be between $1 million and $1.5 million. He believes a nominal yearly surcharge of $10-$15 for those Hoosier businesses currently paying into the unemployment insurance fund would reach that amount and make the most sense.

“The amount is so small, especially for the possible benefits to an employer down the road,” he begins. “This group also received a per employee break recently when the state executed the early payoff of the federal unemployment insurance loan. This saved each business more than $126 per employee.”

Establishing a work share program in the state is one of the Indiana Chamber’s 2016 top legislative priorities.

The work share research document is available at www.indianachamber.com/labor.