October 8, 2013

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Industry Outlook: Human Resources

October 8, 2013

  

I’ve heard that the Obama administration is hiring a large number of additional investigators to check for violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act and for I-9s forms. Have you seen that?

TSAI: My sense is that they’re not. Even though there’s widespread audits, one-third of all employers that are audited ultimately are fined. The average fine, roughly, is anywhere from $30,000 to $50,000. That seems like a large amount depending on the size of the company, but many companies would be happy to absorb that to continue to have undocumented workers as part of their business practice, which is unfortunate.

HACKETT: I audit my franchisees in those states, and they just changed the I-9 this year. We do a lot of education for our franchisees, and I’m shocked by how many of our staffing consultants miss having our temporary associates put the date on the I-9. And it goes through three people for a QA check.

A lot of people make mistakes. If I were to go into our customers and look at their I-9s, I would venture to say quite a few companies would make those same mistakes. They miss the date or they forget to have a signature or they forget the proof of eligibility to work in the United States or something. We audit every office every year, but we have random ISO audits to ensure we do well—but I bet you a lot of mistakes are still made.

ATWOOD: I’ve done about 25 audits in the last 13 months, and about 23 or so employers did not pass a simple audit. The ones that did pass, it’s because they had attorneys actually audit it. But those simpler errors, employers don’t realize that as long as they do those self-disclosures and some of those document efforts, they’re well within the capability to reduce some of those concerns and fines.

TSAI: The forward-looking trend is to go electronic. In 2010, there was regulation that allowed employers to start completing and storing I-9s electronically. Going to those sorts of systems can dramatically minimize errors.

We’ve represented one employer with 1,000 employees; they were audited by ICE and they had made that conversion to electronic—and they had virtually no errors. They did have a handful of folks who had circumvented the process who were undocumented; but ultimately, the employer didn’t pay a fine.

Organizations are using social media as a recruiting device and as a communications device. I talked with a manager who estimates the average employee spends a quarter of the day in nonproductive work on social media. What are you finding?

NGATIKAURA: We block social media sites.

CRAGUN: How do you control people’s own personal devices?

NGATIKAURA: We don’t control that piece.

HERRING: That’s a shell game. I think social media’s the tide, and we need to find a way to use it to create energy and try and regulate it.

FENWICK: That’s what we’re doing right now. We’re trying to embrace it and see how we can use it to benefit our company. If people want to spend some time on social media, that’s great. If they’re not accomplishing their work, they’ll get fired. We’re not tracking their time. We don’t care so long as they’re accomplishing what they’re assigned to do. But we haven’t used it in the past very well to enhance our business, and that’s a difficult road. We’re not exactly sure how to go about that.

HERRING: Social media is something that I really embrace. I think of Twitter as one of my primary communication tools for the 20-plus thousand employees at the University to my 100 HR staff. I’ve got different Twitter accounts, different followers. In 140 characters, I can ping them just enough information that it gets the message out.

BULLOCK: We expect our employees to be on social media. If they’re not in social media, they basically aren’t going to work for us. My solution is to just get them doing social media so much for work, they don’t have time to do it personally. But they have to embrace it and be involved in it and understand it.

CABLE: We actually promote a lot of our cultural initiatives through that, and we use it to engage employees. If they share a LinkedIn, they get a hoody or whatever collateral. We have a younger workforce, so if we didn’t embrace social media, we would be challenged. Even our learning tool that we just launched last year is a social media template where they can like what their friends are sharing, just because it’s so much the direction they’re going.

From the HR side, it does create challenges where people harass each other on Facebook, so then you have to deal with that. And there’s evidence that they are, which is good and bad. And we don’t want to monitor how much you are doing it. Are you getting the job done and are you getting it done effectively? If you are, then we’re glad you can manage that workload.

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