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Showing posts from April, 2009

BLS Round Up, Part 1: Who Works the Most From Home?

Today the Bureau of Labor Statistics released a graph detailing which occupations have the highest work-from-home rates. 
Not surprisingly --- at least to me --- is that self-employed people who work in the arts, design, entertainment, sports and media fields are the most likely to work long hours from home, averaging slightly more than 55 hours every week. The wage and salaried workers in media and entertainment fields, on the other hand, averaged 7 hours from home every week.  
Personal care was also big on the list. The self-employed in "personal care" occupations averaged 42.6 hours from home every week, while their wage and salaried counterparts logged nearly 9 hours a week --- the most hours, by the way, of any wage or salaried occupation on the list. Business and financial operations was the third most popular work-at-home option for the self employed (averaging 32.3/week) while "management occupations" came in third for the wage and salary types (7.1 hours/we…

Update: How Companies Are Preparing For Swine Flu

CNN is running a story about how companies are preparing for the swine flu. Large technology companies like Microsoft, Dell and IBM already have pandemic plans in place. Their initial response includes restricting travel and having employees in areas with outbreaks work from home. Asking employees to work remotely via computer is probably a fairly smooth transition, given the nature of their industry. 
But what about small retail businesses that don't have a pandemic plan, depend highly on foot traffic, and may not have very good online sales capabilities? So far, small businesses seem to be grapling mostly with employees (mainly women) who are out of the office due to school closures. Unfortunately, too many small employers haven't planned ahead for a far-reaching flu. One survey found 47 percent of small employers didn't even have formal sick leave policies
Companies' bottom lines could end up getting sick soon if this flu keeps spreading. Consider small businesses i…

Get Ready, Employers --- New Workplace Safety Rules Are On the Way

The U.S. Labor Department is working up some new workplace safety rules. 
DOL isn't saying much yet, but here's a small glimpse into what it's likely to propose later this year:
* New rules to limit employee exposure to diacetyl, a popcorn flavoring that can make workers at popcorn production plants sick. (Gee, and I thought microwavable popcorn was just fattening.) Labor Secretary Hilda Solis is convening a rulemaking panel on May 5th to start developing the new rules;
* New standards around combustible dust particles;
* And the biggie: A new OSHA program called the Severe Violators Inspection Program to crack down on companies that aren't serious about workplace safety.
It's no secret that enforcement of OSHA rules took a big hit under the Bush Administration, and the Department of Labor under Labor Secretary Hilda Solis isn't wasting any time renewing enforcement: It sent letters earlier this month to 13,500 employers with illness and injury rates twice the natio…

First, A Few Shameless Plugs

Here's a recent feature article of mine that I thought I'd post. Readers are giving it a fairly good rating, which makes me so happy. Seriously, there's nothing better as a freelance journalist than to see something you've written be well received by readers. I'll be smiling for the rest of the day. (P.S. --- The "TMI" and "Bridezilla" sections were my favorites to write, maybe because I've worked alongside these kind of people in the workplace. It may explain why I prefer to be self-employed. The section about workplace fraud, meanwhile, was probably the meatiest in terms of information.)
Here's another story featured in this month's issue of Entrepreneur magazine. The subject matter --- altering your business model --- is a bit afield from the topics I tend to cover, but it was fascinating to research. My expert sources were all great people, too.

Should U.S. Companies Keep American Workers Over Foreign Workers?

If you're initiating a layoff, do you lay off the H-1B guest worker or the American worker?
The staggering number of layoffs over the last six months is raising the question of whether U.S. companies should start giving preference to American workers. When Microsoft announced this winter that it would cut 5,000 employees, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) sent the company a letter asking that American workers get priority over the company's foreign workers. Microsoft responded that the layoffs were across business units and that a "significant number" of affected employees were foreign citizens who would be uprooted on short notice. In March, Microsoft said the proportion of H1-B employees wouldn't change after layoffs.
Now the H-1B guest worker program is under renewed scrutiny and Sens. Grassley and Durbin (D-IL) have introduced new H1-B legislation. According to the Department of Labor's current strategic plan, H1-B workers may be hired even when a qualified U.…

Swine Flu -- What Should Companies Do To Prepare?

Today the Federal Government declared a public health emergency concerning the swine flu. 
What does this mean for companies? I wrote an article a few years ago about how companies should handle an outbreak of avian flu, which was the big worry at the time. 
Some questions to ask yourself, whether you're an employee or an employer:
* Has my company worked out a way for everyone to work from home and access the company's computer system in case the office is closed because of a swine flu outbreak?
* Have we checked in with any suppliers located in areas with swine flu outbreaks? How are they reacting to the outbreak? How would we keep supplies, orders and materials coming in if suppliers' facilities are temporarily closed?
* Do we have a written plan that covers, among other things, protective equipment and steps employees can take to minimize their flu risks? (Remember, OSHA requires employers to provide a "safe" work environment.)
* How will we handle sick policies if…

Recession, Reshmession: Employees Still Have a Wandering Eye

Economists seem to agree that we're in the worst recession since the 1930s. Given the state of things, employees who have survived HR's grim reaper won't be looking for an opportunity to jump ship, right?
Wrong. A recent survey of employers and employees churned up some fascinating numbers. Among the key findings:
* 65% of employees surveyed were at least "somewhat satisfied" with their jobs. Employers estimated this number at 77%;
* 65% of employees surveyed were looking around or doing some "just-in-case" job hunting. Nearly 60% of employees said they planned to ramp up their job search within the next three months;
* About 80% of employers didn't think employees would ramp up their job search efforts over the next three months. In fact, 63% of employers didn't think their employees were looking for new jobs.  
So employers think employees aren't looking for new jobs while employees are busy polishing their resumes, checking out job …

Welcome to Workplace Diva

Wow. The first post on my new blog, Workplace Diva. I'll open with a new commercial from a California biotech firm called Bio-Rad. It's hilarious in an ultra-geeky kind of way. I think the commercial features the company's actual employees, too. It's just so cool to see a company having fun with its own marketing. I've watched it a handful of times already.
These letters also spell DAN. Watch it to figure out what I mean. Priceless.