Workplace Culture

YourForce: 2017 Optimas Winners Show Us Good HR

By Mike Prokopeak

Nov. 1, 2017

“Show, don’t tell” is a well-known maxim among journalists and storytellers of all kinds.

The basic technique is simple. Make people feel something rather than explain it to them.

With that in mind, I can tell you the many ways HR professionals are doing important work.

I can tell you good HR programs engage employees, attract and retain talented ones and deliver measurable and meaningful business results.

But it’s much better if I show you.

Look no further than the winners of the Workforce Optimas awards featured in this issue for inspiration. From Webasto Roof Systems — this year’s General Excellence winner — to each of the 20 other award-winners, these organizations aren’t just explaining what is good in HR. They are showing us what great looks like.

—Mike Prokopeak, Editor in Chief


Tapping for a Cause

Photo courtesy of MillerCoors.

MillerCoors 2017 Tap Into Change program raised $72,000 in support of the LGBTQ community in select cities nationwide. The 2016 program, right, raised $35,000 to benefit key organizations in the Chicago area, including AIDS Foundation of Chicago, Center on Halsted, the Howard Brown Health Center and Chicago House. Now in its sixth year, MillerCoors has donated $175,000 to local groups and organizations focused on LGBTQ issues as a result of the program.



Several readers sounded off on the September/October Workforce story ‘HR and the H-1B Visa.’ Said Perturbed Pundit: While lobbying Congress for more H-1B visas, industry claims H-1B workers are “the best and brightest.” Come payday, however, they’re entry-level workers. The GAO put out a report on the H-1B visa that discusses at some length the fact that the vast majority of H-1B workers are hired into entry-level positions. In fact, most are at “Level I,” which is officially defined by the Department of Labor as those who have a “basic understanding of duties and perform routine tasks requiring limited judgment.” Moreover, the GAO found that a mere 6 percent of H-1B workers are at “Level IV,” which is officially defined by the Labor Department as those who are “fully competent.” This belies the industry lobbyists’ claims that H-1B workers are hired because they’re experts that can’t be found among the U.S. workforce. This means one of two things: Either companies are looking for entry-level workers (in which case, their rhetoric about needing the best and brightest is meaningless), or they’re looking for more experienced workers but only paying them at the Level I, entry-level pay scale. In my opinion, companies are using the H-1B visa to engage in legalized age discrimination, as the vast majority of H-1B workers are under the age of 35, especially those at the Level I and Level II categories. The National Association of Colleges and Employers has never shown a sharp upward trend of computer science graduate starting salaries, which would indicate a labor shortage. In fact, according to their survey for Fall of 2015, starting salaries for CS grads went down by 4 percent from the prior year. This is particularly interesting in that salaries overall rose 5.2 percent. The H-1B visa is a cancer on American society.

Practical Employer blogger Jon Hyman’s recent post ‘Dads Are Parents, too — Baby Bonding and Sex Discrimination’ drew this response from Don Turnblade: 

I see no danger in equal treatment of men and women under benefit programs. Yet a side danger that I see is that arguments based on disrespect of religion can be cast as if these are unworthy of consideration, archaic, obsolete or treated in any manner other than wise respect. Unequal treatment of religion in the eyes of the law is just as vile as unequal treatment on gender. Whether a religion does or does not propose that men or women may or should perform certain roles is its own choice. Often, a religion may have no preference concerning a gender-based role that would affect a workplace environment. The ability to respect those that may volunteer from some gender-based roles is neither archaic, obsolete nor worthy of disrespect. The equal treatment of all persons needs better arguments to support it. In some sense, the very notion of human rights owes a debt to the religious foundation that created such a concept. Even the idea of equal treatment under the law itself traces its foundation to religious concepts. None of the arguments are archaic or obsolete. I hope to benefit from support for equality such sacred materials long in to the future. America is of the many, one nation. I need no disrespect of religious views different from my own to favor wise and equal treatment for all persons, not just those with “modernist” perspectives that are quick to abuse words such as “archaic” when what they might rightly mean is “presumptive.”


Mike Prokopeak is Workforce’s editor in chief.

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