Workforce Management September 2004

By Staff Report

Sep. 2, 2004

When women rise
By Eve Tahmincioglu
Cigna’s $2 million annual commitment to recruiting and developing executive women is based on business strategy, not political correctness. It’s an approach supported by research that says companies with the highest representation of women have better financial performance.

Magic for sale
By Douglas P. Shuit
Top management at the Walt Disney Co., may be under intermittent fire, but its people programs steadily drive theme-park success. The company has packaged its workforce-management ideas under the Disney Institute brand and is happily disseminating them to corporations throughout the United States, including Chevron, BMW, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Bank of America.

Pension pain for multinationals
By Patrick J. Kiger
Aggrieved workers are taking to the streets in Toulouse, Milan and Berlin to protest proposed reforms in Europe’s troubled public pension systems. European governments, in turn, are looking to private employers, including U.S.-based multinationals, to assume more responsibility for retirement costs. Consultants warn that the demographic time bomb in Europe may increase labor costs to the point where it could become difficult to do business in some countries at all.

Shopper’s special
By Irwin Speizer
Analysts who study Trader Joe’s, a quirky specialty grocery chain, attribute its success to its ability to make money by saving money. It uses private labels instead of brand names, deals directly with producers to cut out middlemen, rents cheap real estate for its stores and keeps the square footage small. Another secret to Trader Joe’s success is its helpful employees. They know how to move groceries, which boosts store margins.

Between the Lines
A different drug plan
Learning to question that mesmerizing drug-company advertising.
  Reactions From Readers
Letters on opportunities for low-wage workers and success with in-house recruiting.

In This Corner
The gay decade? Not a work
The prospects for a national law extending workplace rights for gays and lesbians are slim. That means employers can expect the divide between various states’ laws to widen.

Legal Briefings
The EEOC withdraws a new rule on retiree health benefits.

Data Bank
As good as it gets

Not quite ready for new world of overtime
Companies are scrambling to comply with complex new overtime rules. Also: Pension funding improves (except at United and US Airways). B-school boot camps get grads ready for the working world. The path is clearer for health savings.

HR Technology
A few years late, portals gain ground
Web portals stalled in the cooled-down economy, but there’s been a surge in spending lately as human resources leaders see portals as key to managing their workforce. Employees also are driving portal growth. They expect their companies’ sites to be as easy to use as Amazon and Yahoo.

Employee Assistance
No longer a private problem
To save lives, stave off lawsuits and maintain productivity, some employers have decided that domestic violence should be a corporate concern. Several have created awareness and education programs for managers and employees.

Good-by to the golden age of options
Rules from the Financial Accounting Standards Board won’t take effect until 2005 or later. But many companies are already refashioning their incentive plans, curbing the amounts of their option grants, limiting who is eligible, or both.

Retirement Benefits
More companies restore 401(k) matches
Some companies are still cutting, but those that feel more certain about their future are putting match money back in play. Fears of competition for employees is also a factor.

Recruitment & Staffing
Casting Internet hiring in a new light
Under proposed EEOC rules, companies will have to carefully define and justify their online hiring processes. The proposed changes are akin to those spurred by the ADA.

July  2004

June  2003

May  2003
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