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Workforce Management October 2004

September 30, 2004
Related Topics: Featured Article
The White House race: a workforce management perspective
By Douglas P. Shuit, Michelle V. Rafter and Patrick J. Kiger
From jobs to health care to retirement, President Bush and Sen. John Kerry are promoting proposals that will directly affect employers. This special report analyzes these three key issues, contrasting the approaches the candidates say they'll take.

Migraine time
By Douglas P. Shuit
Medco Health Solutions Inc., faces a host of headaches, including the rocky future of health care, regulatory scrutiny and fierce competition from other pharmacy benefit managers. CEO David Snow, Jr., who took over Medco's leadership in 2003 as it separated from parent company Merck & Co. Inc., says he's up for the challenge.

The art of the apology
By Patrick J. Kiger
Business, to borrow a phrase from Love Story author Erich Segal, means never having to say you're sorry. But that thinking is changing, as some companies teach employees when and how to apologize. The right amount of contrition can significantly reduce the cost of settling lawsuits, and may even convince unhappy customers, irked business partners or resentful ex-employees not to sue at all.

Deflating compensation
By Fay Hansen
  If your salary-increase budget for 2005 is much higher than 3 percent, you're probably overspending. New survey data indicate that increases at large companies will average 3.5 percent next year, marking the fourth consecutive year of increases below the 4 percent average that characterized budgets before the economic downturn. What's behind the trend? Soft labor markets that will continue into 2005 and well beyond, increasing the need for annual pay increases designed for optimal hiring and retention. "There's no war for talent," says Mercer Human Resource Consulting's Steven Gross.

Between the Lines
The drowning pool
The pension system might be saved. But should it be?
  Reactions From Readers
Letters on Ikea, prescription drugs and Trader Joe's.

In This Corner
Prepared for an ugly change
An incident from seventh-grade shop class shows what happens when employers aren't ready for allegations of discrimination that so often accompany a termination.

Legal Briefings
E-mail notice of an arbitration plan was inadequate.

Data Bank
All pain, no gain

Not quite ready for new world of overtime
Disney begins to search for a new CEO, and the new Eisner might well be one of the company's illustrious alumni. Also: Oracle wins a round in court. Take cover--it's open season on open enrollment. Companies consider shifting family premium costs.
A new approach to faith at work
Companies including Ford, Intel and Texas Instruments are using employee resource groups to manage spiritual matters in the plant or office.

Health-Care Benefits
Quick-care kiosks are finding favor
Staffed by nurse practitioners, basic-care kiosks are opening in supermarkets and retail stores and on corporate campuses. They limit themselves to common ailments, and the price is right.

Recruiting & Staffing
Taking the long view on IT
Minnesota Life hires well-rounded college grads, not "techie-geeks," trains them intensively, gives them work/life balance and reaps the benefits in skill and loyalty.

Thinning the ranks of the "career expats"
Firms relocate fewer workers overseas, relying instead on short-term stints and less costly local hires.

Retirement Benefits
Behavioral economists and the 401(k)
What can make defined-contribution plans work better? Surprisingly, the same things that bedevil them: procrastination and inertia.


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