While there’s no specific project to speak of, the assistant secretary says guidance on life-cycle funds will be issued by year’s end.
The report calls for increasing incentives for post-high school education and training; developing national skill credentials that can be carried from job to job; and making education more widely available in part by delivering it online and in customized ways.
A report by Watson Wyatt Worldwide and the National Business Group on Health finds that while health and productivity management programs are keeping health care costs and absenteeism down, employers aren’t acting to relieve the stress of employees’ long hours and fear of job loss. Such stressors could affect productivity as companies try to bounce back from the recession.
Commentary: Bob Nelson, keynote speaker for the Workforce Management online conference Road to Recovery: HR Strategies for Post-Recession Success, discusses some simple perks that organizations can give employees to sustain engagement during the downturn.
Internet-based counseling and behavioral health services are finding their way into company employee assistance programs alongside in-person and telephone-based therapies. The services use a variety of Internet-related platforms, including e-mail, instant messaging, live chat and, in some cases, Skype video calls or other Internet-based videoconferencing.
Commentary: Cell phones, BlackBerrys and iPods are affecting job safety. Some businesses have already recognized the dangers associated with such devices, and have put policies in place to limit their use at work. Others, however, haven’t perceived the risk, and could be setting themselves up for lawsuits and workers’ compensation claims.
The company, which has received $55 billion from the U.S. government and expects to detail the state of its finances in mid-November, says it has not shed as many workers in the U.S. as it had originally planned when it entered bankruptcy June 1.
Our financial services company recently introduced shift work for some service positions, which has led to grumbling and general discontent. For example, our service-desk positions previously were 8 a.m.-5 p.m. jobs, but business needs warranted going to a 24/5 schedule. We are concerned about a drop in morale, along with the attendant productivity drops. We tried to roll this out gradually, giving service people time to adjust and informing them of the change through group meetings and one on one. Still, morale is at a new low since we began the shift-work schedule. How could we have missed on this so badly? And how can we repair the damage? —Sinking Fast, manager, finance/insurance/real estate, Johannesburg, South Africa
Nationally, all employers must contend with myriad state laws limiting how they may use background check information as well as concern by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that these checks have a disparate impact on minorities.
Employees may have enforceable privacy interests in work areas, such as enclosed offices where they work, changing rooms and lockers accessible only to the employee. While searches or surveillance of work areas can be defended with legitimate cause, employers should consider policies and procedures to alert employees to the employer’s reserved right to conduct such surveillance. Even then, surreptitious photographing of employees should be carefully limited.