Thursday, March 4, 2010

Chapter 12 Reflection

Pay, while not the most important motivational factor for most people, can be the most noticed and affecting factor simply because it can be measured. Companies need to have structure and policies when it comes to figuring out who will earn certain amounts of money and still create equitable feelings.

One interesting thing that I learned in that was just how off-balanced the pay to CEO and upper level business professionals is in relation to the lewest paid employeee in the firm. I believe the professor said it was a 400% difference! That means it takes 400 regular low paid workers' salaries to pay 1 CEO. I might not be very good with finances, but I cannot see anything fair about that. Sure the CEO might work harder, maybe, but I doubt they are working 400% harder.

Ben and Jerry's used to have a policy that the CEO could not earn more then 3 times the pay of their lowest paid employee. While this can be seen as a problem today, and is why they have gotten rid of that policy, it conveys to me a correct principle, that employees are the ones responcible for carrying out the work and getting things done, and should be compensated more in relation to how successful the firm is, and not so much on paying them the least amount they can, so the CEO can become overpaid with 400% more.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Chapter 12 Discussion

Concept and brief description:

Merit Pay / Raises
Linking pay increases to performances of employees through appraisals is one way companies can increase the motivation of its employees to work harder and more consistently.

Emotional hook (provocative question/ claim/real-life problem):

I used to work for a company that really seemed to struggle with appraisals and raises. They had a policy in place that stated that each employee would be evaluated every six months to rate their performance evaluation and appraisal. I worked there for nearly six years and received only about half of the appraisal interviews they said I would have, receiving a small raise about once a year. From what I can tell, the issue was probably a lack of time devoted to interviewing and evaluating the employees. The reviews were done only by the manager, who was always constantly on the move. He just didn’t have the time to spend interviewing all his employees and so times would be pushed back, and back again.

Key points to elicit in discussion

Required limits of reviews, Raises and amounts, Laws involved, and Effectiveness and motivation.

Facilitative questions

What options do employees have if they are having their review pushed further and further away, year by year? And should there only be one person doing the reviews? What if they are too busy all the time? Have you ever waited longer then you were supposed to for a raise / review / evaluation?

Chapter 11 Reflection

Internal Equity was the main disscussion in our group today. We talked about how employees develope their own perpective about how faily they are being paid from a number of factors including the pay of others within the organization as wel as comparing other companies with similar jobs.

There must be a balance between the employees pay and why they are being paid the amount they are. If they are being paid less then someone else for the same job without believing that the other person works harder or is more qualified, there will be a sense of unbalance and disappointment. Companies should be responsible to inform their employees of why they are paid the way they are, by doing performance appraisals and/or showing the current rates in the general market for a job similar to theirs.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Discussion - Chapter 11

James Ashworth
Discussion topic for: Chapter 11

Concept and brief description:
The concept I wanted to discuss is under the section of Overtime Pay in the textbook. Regarding “salaried” employees in which they are considered exempt from overtime pay. Firms are not required to pay salaried employees overtime because they expect the employee to be able to manage their time and get the work done.

Emotional hook (provocative question/ claim/real-life problem):
The issue I have with this is that in some situations employees are working all day, come home and continue to work until they go to bed. My wife is a first grade school teacher, and she is expected to be at work at 7:30am until 4pm everyday as far as her contract says. She leaves at 6:45am in the morning and gets home at 5pm. After getting home she continues to work until about 9pm, when she then goes to bed. To me, she is working at her job for over 10-12 hours a day. Legally, everything is fine, however I feel that situations like this employees are being overused, and while her salary pay looks average, if you calculate all the extra time she puts into the job her pay isn’t much better then someone making French fries at Mc. Donald’s.

Key points to elicit in discussion
Exempt employees and the benefits and costs

Facilitative questions
What kind of job do you want? One where you go to work to work, but when you come home you are done. Or would you rather work at work and then work some more when you get home? Is this type of situation more common then I think?

Chapter 10 Reflection

Discipline on the job was the main topic of our groups discussion. We were all in agreement or had experienced situations in our jobs where there was poor management of discipline to employees who break the rules and regulations of employment.

It seems to me that some managers/employers do not treat all employees the same when it comes to discipline. Two employees that break the rules should have the same consequence, however sometimes if one is more "liked" the punishment tends to be less. For example at my job we had a person that consistantly was late, and would joke around with the manager about it. He never really got more then a reminder here and there to be on time. On the other hand there was an employee that was not late everyday, but sometimes would have a hard time getting there on time. He was given three chances, and on the third late day, he was fired.

Obviously this could have turned out very badly if the fired employee had taken legal action for unfair treatment. It just shows me how important it is to make sure that policies are in place, and the consequences are carried out regardless of how well the employee is liked.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Discussion - Chapter 10

James Ashworth
Discussion topic for: Chapter 10

Concept and brief description:
Meeting job satisfaction in order to retain employees, at least for most companies, is highly recommended and saves in the long run to the bottom line. There are several ways to measure job satisfaction including surveys in which employees can rate on a scale how much their job meets the needs they have. If several employees are leaving for the same reason, it might be good for management to consider some changes in their current setup.

Emotional hook (provocative question/ claim/real-life problem):
Speaking on the topic of job satisfaction, I have a personal experience that involves me having to let my job go even though I did not want to. My previous employer, that I had worked for the last 6 years, was unable to work with my education schedule, and asked me to choose between continuing my schooling, or working for them in that position. Looking into the future, an education would be more beneficial to me than a simple dead-end job, and so I decided to quit.

Key points to elicit in discussion
What I have experienced makes me wonder why a company, that hires mostly college students, does not work around their schedules. If their goal is to reduce employee turnover, wouldn’t working with student schedules be at the top of their list?

Facilitative questions
In addition, a huge issue right now is the reduction of employee benefits, primarily health insurance. The costs of health insurance on companies puts a huge strain on their backs, but I wonder if it actually results in less job satisfaction, and motivation to work their best. Why work hard for a company that tries to give you the least back that they legally can?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Chapter 8 Discussion

Concept and brief description:
Rating Individual employee’s performance. One of the more difficult things to track is how efficient employees are doing their jobs. Instead of companies arranging their employees from best to worst, they can use performance measurement to see about where each employee stands on a scale, usually 1 to 5 with 5 being the best.

Emotional hook (provocative question/ claim/real-life problem):
I used to work for a company that used self-evaluation scales for measuring job performance. It was a 1 to 10 scale with 10 being the best. After filling out my first one, I was later informed that I am not allowed to give myself 10’s in any area, because 10 means perfect, and there is no such thing… I was a little shocked and offended that I wasn’t allowed to think I could do something at a level 10, or that I even had the potential to reach it. Several other employees I talked with had also gone through the same discussion about not being able to do something perfectly and we all felt kind of weird about it. Why not just set the scale 1 to 9 then?

Key points to elicit in discussion
Do you think that telling employees that they are not capable of achieving a certain level of performance is a good idea? Rating behaviors and TQM.

Facilitative questions
Does a scale system really work? If employees rate themselves, wouldn’t they score themselves higher than they actually are? What about managers who may not even know about the job, and what is considered good performance?

Chapter 7 Reflection

Our group pretty much all had discussion topics of on the job training and how they can be effective or ineffective. Sometimes a company's training staff feel like they need to train just to keep busy so they don't look like their job is worthless. But as an employee, one of our group members said that it's just annoying being trained over and over on things you already know.

Someone mentioned that the rate at which companies hire outside sources for training their employees was like 70%. That is a huge number of companies that don't take responsibility to train their own employees. The instructor said it is because they lack a solid strategic plan. Some of the students said that it can sometimes be justified when either the training is for a new product that the company has no idea how to train about, or if the training is needed by an outside regulatory firm to get certified, such as getting certified as a car mechanic.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Chapter 7 Discussion

Concept and brief description:

On the job training is the method many companies use to bring employees up to the standards they require for effective productivity. There are two types of on the job training, Apprenticeship, and internship. Apprenticeship is where a new inexperienced worker basically follows around another person who is very experienced, and learns how they do their job so well, these are typically hands-on labor and crafting, stuff you can’t really learn without just doing it. Internship is similar, except that it is sponsored by an educational institution as a component of an academic program; this is more used for technical and higher-level thinking jobs like doctors, lawyers, and accountants.

Emotional hook (provocative question/ claim/real-life problem):

This topic relates to me currently because I have to choose between taking two more classes or finding an internship in the summer. Although two classes seems like the easy way out, I think an internship will be the wisest choice in the end, because experience is always better than just having the information out of a textbook.

Key points to elicit in discussion

Regulations, procedures, and success of internships

Facilitative questions

• What kinds of internships have members of the group had or are interested in?
• How would one go about asking a company if they will take an intern?
• Beneficial or not?

Chapter 6 Reflection

Searching and selecting employees seems like an easy task on the surface, but as we have been learning in class, there are so many issues involved that it may be some of the harder decisions employers have to make.

Companies need to make sure they are hiring people that will be a good match for the job position, and will be able to work with the group, to accomplish the goals of the company. Bad selection in the beginning will lead to continued problems and decreased productivity and most likely result in the person quitting or getting fired, which then sets the company back even more.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Chapter 6 Discussion

Concept and brief description:

Honesty and Drug tests are important to many businesses in their selection of employees. Some companies have got themselves in big trouble however, because if not handled carefully, accusing someone of dishonesty or drug abuse can lead to lawsuits.

Emotional hook (provocative question/ claim/real-life problem):

There was a girl at one of my previous jobs that was accused of drug abuse by several employees. It created some work problems and ultimately lead to the girl quitting. Come to find out, the girl had some minor mental disability that made her act the way she did, which others took as her being “high”.

Key points to elicit in discussion

Systematic tests to all applicants for the same job
Keeping the applicant informed to the results
Privacy rights of applicants that take the tests

Facilitative questions

So how do companies go about these tests? And what kinds of companies even need to? Are their certain cases where drug tests may be more common than others?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Chapter 5 Reflection

In class we discussed HR's responsibility to forecast the demand and supply of the labor market and how it is similier to the demand/supply for any other product or service. When the labor market is in surplus, employers can pay low wages because people are unemployed and are willing to get paid less for a job. On the otherhand, if the labor market it low, employers have to pay higher wages in order to get qualified workers to consider working for them.

We also talked about the options a company has to reduce a surplus.
-Pay reduction
-Work share
-Hiring Freeze
-Natural attrition
-Early retirement

While some of these are faster then others, the faster they are usually results in a larger amount of suffering from the persons involved.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Chapter 5 Discussion

Concept and brief description:

Ethical downsizing obligations. When a company decides that it needs to downsize, and layoff employees, what kinds of obligations do they have to the employees that lose their jobs?

Emotional hook (provocative question/ claim/real-life problem):

Recently Wal-mart announced that it will be laying off 10,000 workers from I believe their manufacturing and warehouse labor force. Now, typically the type of people Wa-mart employs are usually people who are already struggling because of lower education, health problems and disabilities. What is Wal-mart going to do to help ensure that 10,000 people in this category get new jobs elsewhere?

Facilitative Questions:

Are there better ways then others to downsize, other then just a straight cut? Why do sometimes downsizing attempt to reduce costs fail? Is early retirement a good option for companies looking to downsize? How about temporary employees?

Chapter 4 Reflection

Our group discussed issues related to chapter 4, including efficiency and job satisfaction. Where exactly does a business need to draw the line when it comes to managers getting bonuses for increasing performance, when it can lead to the employees leaving the job because of poor satisfaction and becoming overwhelmed?

Also we talked about job descriptions and how important they are for HR. Poor job descriptions can lead to confusion, and conflict when employees are not sure what they are expected to do, or what authority they have to made decisions. It reminded me of a position I had at a health food store in which I knew the basic job I needed to get done, but was not informed about how much authority I had to make decisions that would come up on the spot. Also, it was only assumed that I was in a "manager" position even by the Owner of the store, but never was included in manager bonuses or invited to manager meetings. In a nutshell, I was confused on where I stood within the organization because there was no job description for my position.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Article Reflections

Our group discussed the articles we each had looked up for this assignment and I wrote down some of the things that stood out to me. The first was in regards to drug testing and how some companies have gotted in big trouble for handling it in the wrong way or making a drug user known to the wrong people, which violates privacy. Also, companies should have a policy in place, and people should know the procedures very clearly when handling this topic.

Another that I had never thought about was the process an employeer can go through to get information about a specific job applicant from their previous employeer. We discussed that nothing but general questions can be asked without being in risk for a lawsuit. The information you seek can only be in the form of basic questions like, "would you hire this person again?", or "would there be anything about this person that would prohibit them from doing a job here?"

Aside from the articles, I found the class discussion on Amendments and Laws regarding HR to be very enlightening and helped me realize just how delicate and complex HR really is, and you really got to be careful with what you say and do or it could end up in court.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Discussion - HR Related Article

Concept and brief description:

ADEA (Age Discrimination in Employment Act) was sign in 1967 by President Johnson in order to protect older workers from being discriminated against because of their age. Since then the law has been through many revisions but is still a major player in companies who care about staying in business. There is however an increasing amount of claims being filed and businesses are getting smarter ideas to protect themselves from getting in trouble.

Emotional hook (provocative question/ claim/real-life problem):

In 1996 there were over 20,000 complaints for age discrimination, while only about 2,000 of them were approved in favor of the complainant. This makes me wonder how well the current regulations are protecting the people from discrimination. There will always be those that try to take advantage of the system, but 10% is very low.
Key points to elicit in discussion

Some companies have come up with ways to work around the laws by switching the focus of the complaint from age discrimination to work performance as well as arguing that the position has a certain requirement when it comes to age, for example a fashion clothing store may argue that to get business from youthful aged people it should have youthful fashionable workers. Another example was flight attendants who for years have the stereotype for being young attractive women, but there is no reason a 40 or 50 year old couldn’t perform the same position.

Facilitative questions

Where is the line drawn when it comes to stereotypes? Is it ok for Mexican restaurants to only hire Mexicans? Woman’s clothing stores to only hire woman? Teenage clothing stores to hire teenagers? Would it really hurt the business to allow older workers to fill positions that are thought of as younger worker jobs? What about young people filling jobs that are traditionally thought of as older workers jobs?

Article used:

Worsnop, R. L. (1997, August 1). Age discrimination. CQ Researcher, 7, 673-696. Retrieved January 19, 2010, from CQ Researcher Online,

Chapter 3 Reflection

We discussed in class the various issues facing HR with regards to discriminating against people that are different race, color, nationality, culture, or disability.

The U.S. has set up laws and regulations to protect people from being discriminated against and require companies to provide equal opportunitues to them. Some of the consequences for discrimination are pretty severe, and are the reasons most companies dont mess around with even an appearance of discriminating.

One issue however that my group mentioned was the fact that some companies are so worried about getting in trouble, that they hire/promote employees based on these laws, rather then on qualifications and experience. One guy said that between a white male with years of job related experience, and a black man just graduating from college with no experience, who would get the job? While it would obviously benefit the company to hire the white man because of experience, the company may deny him the position due to fear of government action for discrimination.

I conclude that laws of discrimination do protect certain people from being discriminated against, but also has the problem of discriminating against people with high qualifications, but wrong color, nationality, or gender.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Chapter 3 Discussion

Concept and brief description:

Equal Employment Opportunity – HR is responsible to ensure that all applicants and employees are not discriminated against on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, age, disability, or national origin.

Emotional hook (provocative question/ claim/real-life problem):

Deafness runs in my family, my grandfather is deaf, my sister in one ear, and my own hearing has gone down considerably over the course of my life and could continue to drop. In fact I actually wear a hearing aid in order to be able to pick up everything I need to. With my future in front of me, it makes me wonder what jobs I will be able to hold successfully even if my hearing continues to deteriorate.

Key points to elicit in discussion

Chapter three discusses several safeguards that have been set up in order to provide equal opportunities for people with disabilities. Among these are constitutional amendments and legislations that give minorities as well as disabled citizens protection against discrimination. Businesses are required to make whatever adjustments are needed, whether in equipment or procedure, to allow the disabled to carry out the duties of the job.

Facilitative questions

Is it right for companies to be required to purchase equipment or alter their procedures in order to adapt to a single employees disability? Are there ever times that a company can turn away the disabled due to certain jobs that require them to be fully functional?

Chapter 2 Reflection

We didn't have much time to go over chapter two's content, but we did meet in groups of 5-6 people and discuss some of the topics people had written down. Some of the HR issues that I heard in the group I was in was being able to motivate employees to take responsiblity for their own appearance, language, and conduct, in order to create positive experiences for customers and other employees. One example was that an employee was hired on, and came to work in unappropriate attire, and very crude jokes. This employees would not even hesitate to telling bad jokes or using vulgar language in front of supervisors.

This reminded me of an experience I had at a job once, in which an employee defended his vulgar language by saying it was how he expresses himself, and that no one has the right to tell him how to express himself... Obviously he has a lot to learn about being professional, because regardless of how you express yourself when your on your OWN clock, you are at work, getting paid to satisfy customers of all different types, and vulgar language is offending to a large portion of them.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Chapter 2 - Discussion

With the changes in the labor market and with more then half of them over the age of 40 and nearing retirement, and with less younger working entering the labor force, it makes me wonder what will happen in the near future as far as job availability goes. Would this cause a demand for more workers? And would that demand be met with an increase of foreign employees and offshoring practices?

New blog started for James Ashworth!

This blog's purpose is to increase the learning and understanding of class material and discussions and to provide a history of infomation that can be accessed conviently as needed. It will compose of my own personal topics for discussion as well as my reflections and impressions to class lectures.