Ligeti at NJEN

Hiring Safely in Tight Markets

Corrections or additions?

These articles by Barbara Fox were prepared for the October 25,

2000

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,

executive

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

resources practice.

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

are

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

hour week."

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.

Top Of Page
Ligeti at NJEN

Peter E. Ligeti will discuss "Why Business Plans Fail at the

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

of 1978,

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.

Top Of Page
Hiring Safely in Tight Markets

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:

Keep your customer base so that it is not easily

accessible from outside sources.

Keep it in a locked box. Your employees may have their own

copies, but the fact that you have a symbolically locked-up copy will

serve you well in court.

Secure the computer system by requiring passwords to

make it available on computer networks. Establish various levels to

have access to different levels of information.

Have employees sign confidentiality agreements. "You can’t

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.

At exit interviews require the return of books and

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."

Even when a company has the proper documents needed for a

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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