Grief & Health – The loss of a loved one is one of life’s most stressful events. A new study shows us just how stressful it can be – particularly for those who have an existing health risk. A study of 1,985 adult heart attack survivors found that heart-attack risk spikes days after loss of a loved one, rising to as much as 21 times higher than normal within the first day after a loved one has died. See also Broken Heart Syndrome. Even for people who don’t have presenting heart disease, grief is intensely stressful. If an employee suffers a loss, it’s a good time for an HR director to send a sympathy card, and why not tuck a card or a number for your Employee Assistance Program with it.
Gender Gap – Are women themselves to blame for a gender gap in careers or is the system stacked against them? The conventional wisdom is that women “don’t ask” but a recent study of the career experiences of thousands of MBA graduates from top schools around the world by Catalyst shows that women do indeed speak up to ask for raises and promotions, but they don’t get the same rewards as men who ask. Moreover, the study found that, “Women who initiated such conversations and changed jobs post MBA experienced slower compensation growth than the women who stayed put.”
Knock, Knock – DOL Calling – The start of a new year is a good time to make sure that your records are in good order so that if you win the Department of Labor audit lottery, you won’t have to panic. Daniel Schwartz of Connecticut Employment Law Blog talks about what to expect when you’re expecting the Department of Labor, which suggests the information you should be tracking. He notes that what is said during DOL meetings can be used against you so you might consider consulting with an attorney early in the process who can coordinate the investigation and serve as a conduit between the DOL and you.
Shredding – How long should you retain files before you can feel safe in trashing them? Compensation Cafe suggests that you take a look at your retention policies and make sure they are up to date with federal and state laws before you break start feeding files to the shredder. They offer a handy list of federal records retention requirements for the IRS, DOL, FMLA, and FLSA.
Responding to Background Checks – When you’re on the receiving end of a reference check, do you know what to say about your former employee? “Most states offer employers a “qualified privilege” to provide references regardless of how negative they may be — but that won’t protect an employer who provides misleading or false information about a former employee.” Keisha-Ann G. Gray of Human Resource Executive offers an excellent overview of best practices in reference checking.
Unlimited Vacation – Michael Halberman of HR Observations Blog writes about unlimited vacation and asks whether it will work for your company. Not familiar with the concept? Go check out his post. Halberstrom likens it to ROWE, or Results Only Work Environments. While there are some compelling arguments in its favor, Haberman notes that it’s a concept that will only work for companies with some pretty special circumstances … so special that the field is pretty narrow. But it’s something to think about. And as with many business concepts and trends, some morphed version often filters down to the everyday work world over time.
Unusual Workplace of the Week – No matter how much we like our jobs, few of us would call our workplace a wonderland. Except maybe the people at Davidson International. “Its interior, which followed a year-long, $5 million renovation, is intended to encourage creativity and a positive attitude among staff.” Hat tip to The Future of Work for the pointer.
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