The Sword - August 2009

Saturday, August 1, 2009

In This Issue:
Top Ten Management Challenges,
Why Do Sick People Go to Work?,
2008's Wackiest Excuses for Being Late

Top Ten Mangement Challenges

Tammy Erikson, a writer for Business Week, sat down with a panel of senior talent development officers, Deb Wheelock of Mercer (a high-end professional services firm, recruiting highly educated knowledge workers), Pamela Stroko of The Gap (a retailer faced with the classic industry challenges of creating a differentiating employee proposition and enhancing retention of its large workforce), and Sujaya Banerjee of the Essar Group (a diversified India-based enterprise participating in a variety of industrial sectors, including steel, energy, and communications), to discuss their views of top talent challenges. They agreed upon the top ten challenges faced by management today.  
1. Attracting and retaining enough employees at all levels to meet the needs of organic and inorganic growth. All three companies are facing a talent crunch, Essar, for example, reported that 55% of their employees have less than two years of tenure.
2. Creating a value proposition that appeals to multiple generations. Today’s workplace includes four generations. Most companies struggle with creating a work atmosphere and experience that satisfies all of these diverse needs.
3. Developing a robust leadership pipeline. Gen X’s comprises a small group, creating a lack of talent from which to select future leaders. There was agreement throughout the panel that there is a significant lack of individuals ready to move into senior client manager and leadership roles.
4. Rounding out the capabilities of hires that lack the breadth necessary for global leadership. While it’s easy to identify and assess experts in different technical and functional areas, it is much more difficult to determine if these individuals have the people skills and leadership capabilities required for today’s dynamic leadership positions.
5. Transferring key knowledge and relationships. The looming retirement of a large section of the workforce creates a challenge for all companies.
6. Stemming the exodus of Gen X’ers from corporate life. A big threat in many firms today is the loss of mid-career talent. These are the employees whom organizations have invested in and pinned high hopes on for future leadership. Therefore, developing talent management practices and a greater work life balance becomes key in retaining this talent.
7. Redesigning talent management practices to attract Gen Y’s. The challenge of passing on key information and training, as well as making management practices and programs more appealing to attract the talent of Generation Y is a high priority for businesses right now.
8. Creating a workplace that is open to Boomers in their “second careers.” While age prejudice still exists, many smart companies are rethinking roles and work relationships to incorporate the talents of Baby Boomers and even older workers.
9. Overcoming the “norm” of short tenure and frequent movement. Some industries are known for high turnover and a disposable view of talent. Companies must address both external influences and internal practices.
10. Enlisting executives who don’t appreciate the challenge. The transition from a talent culture that has been operated with a “buy” strategy to one that has a “build” strategy must be acknowledge and adopted by companies and their business leaders.

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Why Do Sick People Go to Work?

The reasons sick people still go to workA recent study done by NPR, conducted in Florida and Ohio, found half the people they surveyed reported that in at least a number of cases, people would go into work sick, even if they felt they should stay home due to the illness.  

The poll suggests there are two main reasons people go to work even though they are sick: There is a lack of paid sick leave, or there is pressure to be on the job no matter the situation. "The fact that so many people feel they can't stay at home for economic reasons is not the best way to go in terms of the best health of families," says Robert Blendon, of the Harvard School of Public Health. "You want them to feel that if they're sick, the best option is to stay home without serious financial penalties." For this very reason, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. have recently required many employers to offer sick leave. 
Some feel, however, that is not the cure. Mandating these benefits might result in lower wages or reduced jobs altogether. The best way, then, to deal with sick leave, is to leave it up to the market, where employers are always competing for good workers.  "When an employee comes in to look for a job — whether it's an entry-level job or a higher job — they're not looking at just the salary, but the entire benefits package," states Marc Burgat, vice president of government relations for the California Chamber of Commerce. "Sick leave and medical insurance and those sorts of things are part of that total package, and that's what allows one business to attract employees over another business."

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2008’s Wackiest Excuses for Being Late

Wacky excuses for being lateWith our busy society crunching more and more activity into the day, it’s no wonder that according to a survey, 15% of workers say they arrive late to work at least once a week. Although 43% of managers stated they don’t mind if their employers are late to work, offenders continually come up with a wide range of excuses for being late.
When asked to identify the main cause of tardiness, 32% of workers reported traffic was culprit, followed by 17% claiming falling back to sleep as the reason. While the majority of managers believe their employees excuses, some remain skeptical. A look at the list of actual excuses given by employees might give some insight as to why.

1. While rowing across the river to work, I got lost in the fog.
2. Someone stole my daffodils
3. I had to audition for American Idol
4. My ex-husband stole my car so I couldn’t drive to work
5. My route to work was shut down by a Presidential motorcade
6. I wasn’t thinking and accidentally went to my old job
7. I was indicted for securities fraud this morning
8. The line was too long at Starbucks
9. I was trying to get my gun back from the police
10. I didn’t have money for gas because all of the pawn shops were closed
Whether you are strict or flexible when it comes to employees’ schedules, excessive tardiness or lack of reliability should not be ignored. Discuss the issue with the employee to find out the cause of the constant tardiness. Another solution is to evaluate the current policies and consider trying flextime, which implements various levels of flexibility. Regardless if it’s a matter of personal discipline on the part of the employee or personal scheduling issues, work with your employee to come up with a solution.

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