Astron’s Holiday Wishes
The close of a year always brings thoughts of hope and promise for the coming year. At Astron Solutions, our team has a variety of wishes for 2007:
Michael Maciekowich (National Director)
1. Good health and prosperity for all my colleagues, clients, and friends.
2. A Yankees win over the Red Sox.
3. A better year in my Fantasy Football league, since I’ve been 4 -10 the past 3 years.
4. Continued internal growth for Astron to serve our growing client base.
5. A good laugh.
Jennifer Loftus (National Director)
1. Good health and peace of mind for my family, my friends, my colleagues, and myself.
2. Adventures in travel.
3. New hardwood floors in my dining room.
4. Continued growth and development, personally and professionally.
Eric Katz (Senior Statistical Analyst)
1. Good health for me, my family, and my friends.
2. To be the best father and husband I can be.
3. Continued opportunities in my career.
4. To become a brother-in-law again.
5. To find a nightclub in the NY / NJ area that plays only 70's and 80's music so I can dance.
6. Even more wittiness.
7. ...and a partridge in a pear tree.
John Sazaklis (Senior Automation Expert)
1. Well-being for my family.
2. Continued success at work.
3. Opening of a 70’s – 80’s dance club so I can see Eric dance.
4. Yankees finish in last place and the Mets win the World Series.
Brendan Williams (Automation Expert)
1. Well-being of family and friends.
2. Further develop my career.
3. To find a nightclub that plays 70's and 80's music so Eric can dance.
Andrew Katz (Marketing Specialist)
1. Health for my family and friends.
2. Success in school and work.
3. A World-Series-winning Yankees team so not only I will be happy, but also Eric will have a real reason to dance.
4. Finding that money tree my mother claims we don’t own, but which I believe still exists.
(Editor’s note – Eric promises to cut a rug at the SHRM National conference in June. Be on the lookout! Andrew, we too also have hope that the money tree exists in a backyard somewhere.)
Happy Holidays from our family to yours!!
2006 in Review
As we close out another executing year in human resources, let’s reflect on some of the key trends during the year, as well as projections for 2007.
According to a review of year end summaries from The Conference Board, William M. Mercer, Salary.Com, Careerbuilder.com, Employee Benefit Research Institute, and the Society for Human Resource Management, the following were the key issues addressed in 2006 by human resource professionals:
Compensation (Culled from William M. Mercer, Salary.Com, and The Conference Board)
- The movement towards “pay for results” as the primary basis for compensation decisions continued to grow..
- Many organizations re-evaluated the methodologies used to compensate executives.
- The use of stock options continued to decline.
- The use of sign on bonuses saw a moderate increase.
- The use of “spot bonuses,” instead of formal incentive plans, increased.
- Compensation strategies focused more on retention issues rather than recruitment.
Hiring / Recruitment (Culled from Careerbuilder.com):
- 80% of companies offered higher starting salaries than the year before..
- 45% of companies surveyed plan to make efforts to recruit retirees due to talent shortages.
- 50% of companies are focusing on efforts to diversify their workforce with a focus on hiring women and Hispanics.
- 48% of companies have returned to flexible scheduling as a way to attract younger staff.
- 42% of companies are making efforts to shorten the time it takes to hire new staff in light of stiff competition for talent.
Legal (Culled from The Conference Board and SHRM)
- EEO-1 Reporting Changes..
- Marked increase in litigation regarding providing references on past employees, disability rights, first amendment issues, especially in the area of religious speech, sexual harassment, sex discrimination, and retaliation towards employees.
Labor Relations (Culled from SHRM):
The impact of Oakwood Healthcare, Inc., 348 NLRB No. 37 (Sept. 29, 2006) was of importance to human resource professionals. The Board found that charge nurses, as a regular part of their duties, assigned nursing personnel to the specific patients for whom they would care during their shift. The Board found that such assignments, which consisted of giving “significant overall duties” to an employee, met the statutory definition of “assign” under the Act. The Board further found that the Employer met its burden to show that its charge nurses exercised independent judgment in making such assignments. Finally, the Board found that the Employer failed to establish that the rotating charge nurses exercised supervisory authority for a “substantial” part of their work time. As a result, the Board found that only the Employer’s permanent charge nurses were supervisors, rather than employees, under the Act.
Pension & Benefits (Culled from SHRM, William M. Mercer, The Conference Board, and Employee Benefit Research Institute)
On August 17th, 2006, President Bush signed the Pension Protection Act into law. Key points in the new law include the following requirements:
- Companies with defined benefit plans are required to fund them 100% (previously the requirement was 90% funding);
- Companies are required to make up their shortfalls within seven (7) years;
- Companies with plans that are less than 80% funded are prevented from promising additional benefits unless they can immediately pay for them; and
- Required clarity on the legality of what are known as hybrid or cash balance plans.
- Public dissatisfaction focuses on costs: The 2006 Health Confidence Survey (HCS) finds that the public’s increasing dissatisfaction with the American healthcare system appears to be focused primarily on the rising cost of care. Many Americans report that rising costs have hurt their financial well-being and feel that steps should be taken to slow these increases.
- Sharp growth in poor ratings of the health system: Six in 10 Americans rate the healthcare system as fair (28%) or poor (31%). The percentage of individuals rating the system as poor has doubled since the inception of the HCS in 1998 (15%).
- Healthcare quality still ranks high: Even as they report growing dissatisfaction with healthcare costs, Americans are more satisfied with the quality of care they have received than they are with the healthcare system as a whole, and prefer to use quality rather than cost as their primary consideration when making decisions about care.
- Healthcare costs force increasing trade-offs in other spending: Those with health coverage who have experienced an increase in healthcare costs in the past year are more likely to report their household finances have suffered as a result. They indicate that increased healthcare costs have resulted in a decrease in saving for retirement (36%, up from 25% in 2004) and other savings (53%), and in difficulty paying for basic necessities (28%, up from 18%) and other bills (37%, up from 30%).
- Employment-based health benefits rated higher than cash: Three-quarters of those with employment-based health benefits state they would prefer $6,700 in employment-based coverage to an additional $6,700 in taxable income (75%). When those preferring to keep their coverage are asked how much they would need in additional taxable income to willingly give it up, the median response is $11,000.
There will be no rest in 2007 for Human Resource professionals. The following is from SHRM’s Workplace Forecast 2006-2007 Executive Summary on the top ten trends human resources will face in 2007:
1. “Rising healthcare costs”.
2. Increased use of outsourcing (offshoring) of jobs to other countries.
3. Threat of increased healthcare / medical costs on the economic competitiveness of the United States.
4. Increased demand for work / life balance.
5. Retirement of large numbers of “Baby Boomers” (those born between 1945 and 1964).
6. New attitudes toward aging and retirement as baby boomers reach retirement age.
7. Rise in the number of individuals and families without health insurance.
8. Increased identity theft.
9. Work intensification as employers try to increase productivity with fewer employees.
10. Vulnerability of technology to attackShare the article: