What To Do About Negative References

Reference checking is often viewed as a routine matter. But not for the company or the job seeker when certain information is shared.

Allison & Taylor, a company engaged in the reference business for more than 30 years, offers the following:

It’s an all-to familiar scenario – a job seeker with strong employment credentials has interviewed well, and received positive feedback from a prospective employer.  After being asked to provide a list of references, communications suddenly stop; no explanation is provided, and the job seeker’s attempts to follow up elicit a vague “we decided to go in a different direction” statement.

What is happening here?

While there may be multiple reasons why a prospective employer has suddenly lost interest, one possibility is that a reference they’ve contacted has offered negative commentary about the job seeker.  When this happens, the employer begins to see the job seeker as an employment risk, and it’s highly likely that the entire process will stutter to a stop.

The employment process can be tricky, and there are three common ways that an unfavorable reference can derail even the most promising job prospect:

  1. The Supervisor Dilemma – A potential employer will often ask, “May we contact your former supervisor?”  If they are told “no”, it sends up a red flag and makes the employer wonder what a job seeker has to hide.  If the contact is permitted, a job seeker runs the risk that the reference may offer some negative feedback – supervisors often give a mix of favorable and unfavorable commentary about their former subordinates.    
  2. HR’s Influence – Human resources, which most former employees feel is a “safe” reference bet, can actually be quite problematic.  While company policy may not allow them to provide damaging commentary, they may indicate that the employee is not eligible for rehire or suggest that the separation was due to involuntary, unfavorable circumstances.  
  3. “Do Not Hire” – Still another possibility is that a job seeker is on a former employer’s “do not hire” list.  This could be due to any number of reasons, including a failed background check, minor corporate infractions or resume fraud. While most U.S. hiring managers rarely admit that they keep such records, they do exist.

Allison & Taylor reports that approximately half of all reference checks it conducts reveal negative input from the reference.

Number of Independent Workers Continues to Climb

The independent workforce continues to grow and mature, even as the economy continues to rebound and the unemployment rate declines, according to MBO Partners, the nation’s largest provider of business services and tools to the self-employed and companies that engage them. The company released its 2017 State of Independence in America report, the country’s longest-running end-to-end survey of the American independent workforce.

According to the new report, the total number of self-employed Americans aged 21 and above rose to 40.9 million in 2017, up 2.8% from 2016. Independents, who now represent about 31% of the U.S. civilian labor force, are distributed across every demographic, age, gender, skill and income group.

Over 40% of the U.S. adult workforce reports either currently working or having worked as an independent at one time during their careers. Over the next five years, MBO Partners projects that fully half of the U.S. adult workforce will have experienced what independent work can offer.

Independents work in all segments of the U.S. workforce and are of vital impact to our economy, generating roughly $1.2 trillion of revenue for the U.S. economy, equal to about 6% of U.S. GDP.

Three key trends emerged from this year’s study:

  • The number of high earning independents rose for the sixth year in a row. Ongoing economic expansion enables those whose skills are in high demand to get more work and to command a premium for their services. Now, 3.2 million full-time independents make more than $100,000 annually, up 4.9% from 2016 and an annualized increase of more than 3% each year since 2011.

  • More Americans are seeking to supplement their income with part-time independent work or “side gigging.”Though the economy is getting stronger, the typical American worker has seen very little – if any – wage gains. As a result, many Americans who are struggling to keep up with inflation and higher costs are supplementing their income with part-time independent work or side gigging. Fueled in part by the growth of the increasing number of online platforms, the number of people working as occasional independents (those working irregularly or sporadically as independents but at least once per month) soared 23% to 12.9 million, up from 10.5 million in 2016.

  • A strong job market has created a “barbell effect” on both sides of the independent work spectrum. Work opportunities are growing on both sides of the spectrum – both unskilled and skilled – creating a barbell effect. At the low end of the market, there is growing demand for online platform workers, such as Uber drivers or TaskRabbiters, who usually go independent to supplement income, learn new skills or even to socialize in retirement. On the other end of the spectrum, we see a strong rise in entrepreneurial independent professionals earning significant incomes by offering unique services in areas such as technology and marketing.

Brain Drain/Gain Workshop Yields Comprehensive Report

In late April, Purdue University partnered with the Indiana Chamber, Indiana INTERNnet and others to present a brain drain/gain workshop as part of the Chamber’s 53rd Annual Human Resources Conference. Panel discussions, presentations and more on the talent/skills gap were compiled into a comprehensive report. Read the full report.

It documents the workshop, including key takeaways and actions and is provided to those with an interest in these topics. Our aim is for the information in the report to be a resource for those working to make progress within their organization and forming collaborations with other stakeholders to move Indiana forward.

Give Your Skills a Workout During Summer Training Events

Just as a body needs exercise and a healthy diet to stay in top physical shape, skill sets also require regular training to achieve peak performance in the workplace.

The Indiana Chamber is offering several “workouts” in June and July covering topics such as the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), worker’s compensation, wage and hour laws, and more.

Stretch your mind with these June events (full listings at www.indianachamber.com/conferences):

Family Medical Leave Act Seminar (June 8), Ritz Charles in Carmel. Presented by Ogletree Deakins, this seminar is appropriate for new and experienced human resources professionals. Attendees will learn the responsibilities of FMLA and how to ensure a compliant workplace.

2017 Indiana Worker’s Compensation Conference (June 20), Hyatt Regency in downtown Indianapolis. Learn strategies to keep worker’s compensation premium rates low and how to handle worker’s compensation claims. Sponsors are Athletico Physical Therapy, the Center for Diagnostic Imaging and Kindred Healthcare. Additional sponsorships are available by contacting Jim Wagner at (317) 264-6876.

The French Lick Springs Hotel in French Lick will be the host site of two July training options. These two-day events take place July 20-21:

  • The Advanced HR Management Seminar was created in 2016 and inspired by feedback from previous conference attendees. Participants will learn about the significance of marijuana legislation and the opioid epidemic on the workplace. Key issues regarding FMLA and the Americans with Disabilities Act will also be discussed.
  • The Supervising and Managing People Workshop is ideal for new and experienced supervisors. Attendees can gain a better understanding of what is expected of a supervisor and will take a self-assessment test to measure performance in supervisory skills.

On July 27, the 2017 Indiana Wage & Hour Law Seminar will be held at the Indiana Chamber Conference Center in downtown Indianapolis. Presented by Ice Miller, this seminar will address tactics to keep your company in compliance with wage and hour laws. Attendees will receive updated information on potential federal changes.

See event pages for complete details. Continuing education credits apply in certain cases and count toward the Indiana Chamber’s Human Resources Specialist Certificate.

Take your training to the next level and register today by going online or by calling Nick at
(800) 824-6885.

Two Earn Honor as HR Professionals of the Year

Sometimes two is better than one and that’s especially true when it comes to recognizing two long-time leaders in the field of human resources with one of the industry’s top honors.

On Wednesday, Cari L. Kline of Grundfos Americas Corporation (Indianapolis) and Kendra L. Vanzo of Old National Bank (Evansville) were named the 2017 Ogletree Deakins Human Resources Professionals of the Year during the Indiana Chamber’s 53rd Annual Human Resources Conference & Expo in Indianapolis.

Kline and Vanzo received the honor that is given annually to a human resources professional that provides lasting impact through the implementation of best practices, organization design and effectiveness and accomplishment of the company’s strategic direction.

This is only the second time the award has been bestowed upon two deserving individuals; the first was in 2015.

Also honored at the luncheon and receiving the Award of Excellence was Lori L. Gooding, vice president of human resources for Buckingham Companies (Indianapolis).

Cari L. Kline

Cari L. Kline
Kline is regional director of human resources, Americas operations for Grundfos Americas Corporation and is based in Indianapolis. Grundfos is a $4.5 billion company and global leader in advanced pump solutions and water technology, with headquarters in Denmark.

After joining Grundfos in 2012 as human resources director for the company’s Peerless Pump business unit in Indianapolis, she was promoted into her current position and oversees human resources for all of the Grundfos operations facilities in North and South America. As a strategic business partner, Kline provides leadership on a broad range of issues and has implemented key initiatives throughout the company’s Americas operations.

“I am flattered to be honored (with the award),” Kline adds. “I think HR is one of the most unique and challenging professions in today’s business environment. The variety of opportunities and issues that present themselves – sometimes even in a single day – can be astonishing and I find that hugely motivating. I learned many years ago to stop saying, ‘Now I have seen it all!’”

Kline holds an MBA from Ball State University and an undergraduate degree from Purdue University.

Kendra L. Vanzo

Kendra L. Vanzo
Vanzo, executive vice president of associate engagement and integration for Old National Bank, has been with the company since 1994. Old National Bank has $14.9 billion in assets and more than 200 branches in Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, Kentucky and Illinois.

Old National Bank President and CEO Bob Jones nominated Vanzo for the award. His nomination letter highlights several initiatives in the past year that Vanzo led for the company, including the largest merger in the company’s history. She also implemented a system to simplify training and career development, and she is credited for spearheading the creation of an employer-sponsored health clinic for associates and families.

In addition, Vanzo leads the company’s mission to hire and retain diverse individuals, including active military, veterans and individuals with disabilities.

She credits her team and the values at Old National Bank for her honor.

“This recognition is reflective of the contributions of our entire HR team and the people-first, ethical culture of Old National. I am humbled and honored to accept it on behalf of our HR team and company,” Vanzo offers.

She received an MBA from the University of Southern Indiana and her undergraduate degree from the University of Illinois.

How Will the 2016 Elections Impact Labor and Employment Policy?

UWe’re all still recalibrating after last Tuesday’s election results. While the citizenry ponders what this means for the country and the issues dear to us, the impact on labor and employment policy is a top consideration for business-focused organizations like ours.

Harold P. Coxson of the law firm Ogletree Deakins articulated some thoughts in a blog post just after election night:

What do last night’s election results mean for labor and employment policy? In the first place, it means that Republicans will control the White House and both the House and Senate.

For another, it means that President-elect Trump will select the candidate for the current vacancy on the Supreme Court of the United States, as well as seats on the 12 federal circuit courts, only four of which remain under the control of judges appointed by Republican presidents.

It also means that President-elect Trump will fill the two vacancies on the National Labor Relations Board with two Republicans, thus switching majority control of the agency on his first days in office. The NLRB’s record of historic reversals of long-established labor law precedent in areas such as joint-employment, independent contractors, waivers of class and collective actions in arbitration agreements, “ambush” union elections and micro bargaining units will, over time, be reversed.

It means the appointment of other key policy positions throughout the federal labor agencies, including the Secretary of Labor, Solicitor of the U.S. Department of Labor, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health, and Administrator of the Wage and Hour Division. They, in turn, will be expected to roll back or recall many of the controversial labor and employment regulations, such as the recently issued Part 541 overtime regulation, the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces (government contractor “blacklisting”) executive order and implementing regulations, and the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act’s revised “persuader activity” regulations.

The election results also represent an opportunity for Congress to promulgate regulations and pass legislation that would represent responsible immigration policy on a path to earned legalization of undocumented workers and that would repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).

As a result of last night’s elections, the Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee will likely remain with Sen. Alexander (R-TN) rather than Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). The House Education and the Workforce Committee will be chaired by Rep. Virginia Fox (R- NC) with Rep. Bobby Scott (D- VA) likely to remain as Ranking Democrat.

Whether the election results will bring about greater bipartisanship and less political acrimony and gridlock remains to be seen. However, with Republicans controlling the White House and Congress, those angry voters who complained that “nothing ever gets done in Washington” will expect better.

Beyond the Bicentennial: Chamber Outlines Policy Recommendations for 2016 Candidates

Indiana has many advantages as a leading location to operate a business, raise a family or enjoy a high quality of life. But still more needs to be done to improve that climate and to keep pace with other cities and states, says the Indiana Chamber of Commerce.

The organization unveiled today its six-week Beyond the Bicentennial campaign (going beyond the state’s first 200 years). It focuses on the “most potentially impactful public policies” and is directed foremost at the major party gubernatorial candidates, John Gregg and Eric Holcomb.

The Indiana Chamber’s Indiana Vision 2025 plan, first introduced in 2012, serves as the campaign blueprint. “The Indiana Vision 2025 economic drivers present a great opportunity to highlight initiatives that will benefit Indiana now and in the years ahead,” offers Indiana Chamber President and CEO Kevin Brinegar.

The first of the four letters, also released today, emphasizes the Outstanding Talent driver. Recommendations focus on critical improvements at the K-12, postsecondary and workforce levels. In an annual survey earlier this year, 45% of responding employers indicated they had left jobs unfilled in the past year due to under-qualified applicants.

“Outstanding Talent is both the greatest challenge for our state and the area of most importance,” Brinegar states. “While businesses are rightfully concerned about their current and future workforces, for individuals we’re talking about the difference between happy, productive lives and what can amount to an economic death sentence if proper education and training are not received.”

The education/workforce needs range from greatly expanding the state’s pre-K pilot program to more students from low-income families, to assisting the more than 700,000 Hoosiers with some college but no credential or degree to gain the skills needed for a rapidly-evolving economy.

Concludes Brinegar, “We hope the recommendations and guidance in these letters will help the gubernatorial candidates and all lawmakers focus on what public policies could be the most impactful for Hoosiers.”

Additional Beyond the Bicentennial letters and accompanying videos will be made available on September 13 (Attractive Business Climate), September 27 (Superior Infrastructure) and October 11 (Dynamic & Creative Culture).

The Outstanding Talent releases are available now at www.indianachamber.com/letters.

barber

WGU Indiana Chancellor Allison Barber spoke at our press event this morning: “We want to encourage employers to set the standard that talent matters.”

About Indiana Vision 2025
In 2012, the Indiana Chamber published Indiana Vision 2025, a comprehensive, multi-year initiative to provide leadership and a long-range economic development action plan for Indiana. The mission statement: “Indiana will be a global leader in innovation and economic opportunity where enterprises and citizens prosper.”

A 24-person statewide task force of business and organization leaders developed the original plan. Many from that group, with some additions, worked for four months earlier this year to review progress, update goals and metrics, and identify potential new research to enhance future Report Cards (progress on each of the now 36 goals under the four drivers is assessed every other year).

The Indiana Chamber thanks Duke Energy, NIPSCO, Old National Bank, Vectren and all the investors in Indiana Vision 2025.

Learn more about Indiana Vision 2025 at www.indianachamber.com/2025.