Workforce Management July 2004

By Staff Report

Jul. 1, 2004

All aboard
By Andy Meisler
Beset by rising insurance costs, Union Pacific employs semi-tough love to improve the health of its mostly middle-aged, blue collar workforce. While some companies take a no-prisoners approach, UP choose to nudge, encourage and prod its employees to good health. And it’s saving millions.

Lesson plans
By Cindy Waxler
Employers have long complained about workers whose education has ill prepared them for the job market. Now companies are trying to fix the problem with the next generation of employees via after-school programs. IBM offers tutoring and mentoring sessions. Dell hosts courses in which students learn how to  assemble computers. A Boson law firm, Hale and Dorr, provides grant money and prepares middle-school students for mock trials with the kids as lawyers. Businesses that have been “Monday morning quarterbacks and spectators in education reform” should get involved, on after-school educator says.

Pulling the plug
By Samuel Greengard
The complexity of installing and maintaining human resources management systems is prompting many companies to bypass them altogether. That was the course Regus Americas took, junking its HRMS and handing the walking papers to half its human resources staff. As large companies turn to total business process outsourcing, software companies could find themselves endangered and so are working hard to lock up contracts with outsourcing giants. Meanwhile, small- and medium-sized firms that haven’t previously relied on a major HRMS package are leapfrogging directly to outsourcing in the same way that countries like China and Kenya have skipped landline communications and headed directly to cellular phones.

Between the Lines
The fast-forward future
We didn’t get a Jetsons future, but the one that’s arriving daily is just as interesting.
  Reactions From Readers
Letters on women at the top, a well-educated workforce and highly paid HR leaders.

In This Corner
The art of the covenant
Restrictive covenants are a necessary part of business today. But they’re difficult to craft and hard to enforce.

Legal Briefings
Reasonable accommodations for body piercing.

Data Bank
The curse of private funding

Wal-Mart vows to fight on
The largest retailer now faces the largest class-action lawsuit ever filed against a private employer. Also: With the acquisition of Exult, Hewitt aims to become outsourcing’s 800-pound gorilla. A new CEO promises a people focus at Coca-Cola. A study reveals what makes companies productive. Mitsubishi’s leaders take responsibility–and keep their jobs. The NLRB deals unions a bad hand.

Retirement Benefits
New tactics to boost 401(k) interest
Employers try contests, computer games and financial counseling to engage workers who can’t seem to focus on retirement planning.

Health & Safety
Ergonomics is back on the radar screen
Business and OSHA are turning their attention back to a hot issue of the 1990s.

Benefits Management
Auditing for the “ineligibles”
Companies save millions by weeding out grown children, ex-spouses and other employee dependents who are no longer eligible for benefits.

Awards & Recognition
A reward that money can’t buy
Procter & Gamble gave employees two extra vacations days are a reward for outstanding stock performance. It’s a model that other companies can follow.

Corporate Culture
No accounting for this tradition
There’s no demonstrable ROI, but that doesn’t stop the venerable company picnic.

A key role in a complex compliance picture
As companies face the demands of Sarbanes-Oxley and other new regulations, human resources plays a critical part in the process.

June  2004

May  2003

April  2003
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