Corrections or additions?
These articles by Barbara Fox were prepared for the October 25,
edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
Choosing to Be Employers of Choice
"Because of the very tight labor market, the big companies are
stressing human resources," says Donald Doele, president of the
state chapter of the Society for Human Resource Management. Companies
are trying to be "people friendly" by letting workers telecommute and
by providing onsite services and retail opportunities plus child care.
"The more companies can be responsible to their employees’ needs the
more they will be the employer of choice and have the employee want to
work for them."
The Garden State chapter of SHRM holds its annual conference at the
Somerset Doubletree on Wednesday and Thursday, November 1 and 2,
starting at 7 a.m. both days. Cost: $350 or $265 for one day. For
information, go www.newjerseyshrm.org or call 908-359-1184.
"Our basic intent is to provide an opportunity — for those who can’t
make the national conference — to expand their professionalism," says
Doele. SHRM has 140,000 members throughout the world and offers a
quarterly examination for a SPHR designation that it hopes to make
equivalent to a CPA (www.shrm.org). Preparation courses are available
at Rutgers and Rowan universities.
On Wednesday, November 1, the keynoter will be Michele Darling,
vice president Prudential Insurance, known for helping her company go
through the crisis of reengineering. To do so, the company hired a
chief learning officer, purchased the Connecticut-based GTE Learning
Center, and put almost the entire employee population through that
center to train them on the new business objectives.
The Thursday keynoter is Michael Lotito, chair of the national
SHRM. Panelists will include Arthur Ryan, CEO of Prudential
Insurance, Raymond Gilmartin, CEO of Merck & Co., and Peter
W. Tarlton, CEO of Wheelock Industries. More than 35 vendors will
be on the exhibit floor.
Doele is a 1959 graduate of Bowdoin College who has worked for
McGraw Hill in Manhattan, International Consulting Resources, Goodrich
& Sherwood, and Seagate Associates. He had his own consulting business
but now he is setting up the Princeton office of Stratford Group, a
Spherion company based in Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania. It is the
14th largest "retained executive search" firm in the world, meaning
that it works on an exclusive contract basis to place executives in
jobs. Among its practices are those in health care and financial, and
Doele is currently working from a home office to set up a human
The tight job market is only one reason why employers are anxious to
please. Another is that companies are asking professional employees to
put in very long hours. "Most people are putting in at least 50 hours
a week in professional or managerial jobs, even those jobs that pay as
low as $30,000 if they are starting a career and looking to advance,"
says Doele. "Fifty hours a week is low in some of the more aggressive
companies. They have a good pay package, but they are making those
kinds of demands."
"With the proper leadership these companies will be letting the people
take free time at other times — four or five day weekends, trips to
Disney World over a three day weekend, a lot of new ways to make
paybacks for extra efforts," he points out.
In 1980 the working world went at a slower pace. "It’s a different
kind of world today, and corporations are working on very tight
margins to make a profit. People at the level of $60,000 to $150,000
precious and dear commodities," says Doele. "This pressure began 10 or
12 years ago and has gotten more intense as the result of the global
economy. If we want to have the quality of life we have and pay the
salary rates we have here, we have to do something to make that work."
"Before, if you didn’t want to work 50 hours a week, you could have a
successful career. Now, people making $100,000 and more may be told
they don’t have a job if they are not willing to put in a 60 to 70
Next year, says Doele, SHRM is going to change its Employer of the
Year Award. Next year’s prize will go to the Employer of Choice.
Peter E. Ligeti will discuss "Why Business Plans Fail
New Jersey Entrepreneurial Network meeting on Wednesday, November 1,
at noon, at the Doral Forrestal. Cost: $45. Call 609-279-0010.
Ligeti manages high tech investments for Keystone Venture Capital, an
early investor in an innovative Web company, CDnow, and in the
successful technology company, Alexander Road-based Broadbeam,
formerly known as Nettech Systems Inc. Ligeti went to Harvard, Class
and has an MBA from Wharton. He has been a lending officer at
Manufacturers Hanover in New York,
an investment banker at Beuret & Co. and Broadview Associates, and
an associate at Investech, a venture capital fund that focuses on
high technology companies. Ligeti joined Keystone in 1988.
Twenty years ago, when an employee was fired, a company might seize
that person’s Rolodex. Hardly anyone had duplicates of their Rolodex.
Now, says attorney Donald E. Taylor, when an employee leaves the
company, whether voluntarily or from getting laid off, the company
needs to have taken proactive steps to protect its valuables, its
customer information or its trade secrets.
Taylor and Brett R. Harris, both with Wilentz Goldman & Spitzer
in Woodbridge, will talk about "Employment Issues in Times of HIgh
Employee Mobility" at the Princeton Chamber meeting on Thursday,
November 2, at 11:30 a.m. Cost: $30. Call 609-520-1776.
Taylor, a litigator, went to College of New Jersey, Class of 1986, and
Seton Hall law school. Harris is a corporate attorney who focuses on
transactions for technology firms. She is a graduate of Washington &
Jefferson College in Washington, Pennsylvania, Class of 1988, and New
York University School of Law.
"In a time when turnover is high, employers are faced with a
competitive market to attract employees and keep them, and they face
certain issues when employees leave, particularly in the technology
sector. Employees have to find creative ways to protect their customer
base and competitive information," says Taylor.
Taylor says that trade secrets and other confidential information must
be handled so that if a case goes to court, the information will be
considered worthy of protection. For instance:
accessible from outside sources.
copies, but the fact that you have a symbolically locked-up copy will
serve you well in court.
make it available on computer networks. Establish various levels to
have access to different levels of information.
keep them from downloading information to a Palm Pilot, but you can
prevent them from dealing with any of their former customers. The
court would deem that information a trade secret," says Taylor.
documents. "Then, if the employee has stolen a disk or a hard copy of
a customer list you would have the ammunition in place to go to
court case, there are costs involved with litigation, Harris points
out. Sometimes IT consulting firms, often called "body shops" send out
a programmer to a client, and the client ends up hiring the
programmer. "What do you do?" she asks rhetorically. "Complain to your
customer that they stole your employee?"
Instead, Taylor suggests creating a level of disincentive for
employees to leave your firm. This is particularly important when a
firm is paying for someone to come from India. Costs include moving,
getting settled, and getting the immigration paperwork done. The
hiring firm doesn’t want to insist on a two year contract, because
then they can’t lay off an employee or fire that person easily. But
they don’t want the employee to jump ship for another firm.
Have the immigrants sign a release saying that monies spent to bring
them to the United States are a loan, and after the first two years,
the loan will be forgiven. If the employee voluntarily leaves or is
fired for cause, he or she would have to pay the loan back.
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