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January 2017

Ban the Box … New Laws Help Job Applicants With Criminal Histories Get Hired

By Brenda Smyth

Getting a job when you have a criminal history is challenging. For many, they never get past the criminal history check box on the application.
   For several years now, momentum has been growing for the international “Ban the Box” campaign. This movement hopes to remove the criminal background question on job applications. Additionally, in some cases, it restricts employers from asking job applicants about conviction history and can delay background checks until later in the hiring process.
   The latest figures reported by and show that fair chance ordinances (one of several names) have been adopted by 150 U.S. cities and counties in 24 states, including Baltimore; Buffalo, NY; Chicago;  Columbia, MO; Portland; and San Francisco. Laws vary with some applying to public or government jobs only. Others include private businesses or businesses having more than a specified number of employees. Policies also vary on the scope—some restricting or specifically outlining an employer’s ability to consider certain types of criminal history at all.
   The rationale behind the movement is that “as an employer, you should at least consider the person’s qualifications. Later on, the employer can inquire into factors such as convictions and make a more informed choice at that point,” reports
   Applicants may easily explain minor convictions from their youth if given the chance. But when an employment application has a criminal history check box, checking that box may mean they never get a chance to explain.
The benefit to applicants with criminal records is clear. But critics have several common complaints about the movement:

As the movement spreads, there is no uniform law. From city to city or state to state, no two policies are the same. So, if a company operates in multiple states, policies of each location have to be considered.  
There is concern about safety and security - and accompanying liability. Employers are under pressure to keep existing employees and customers safe. If an employer fails to investigate a new hire’s past and the person harms another worker, the employer can be held liable.
Incomplete information on the front end. Resources are spent   interviewing and following up with   candidates who will ultimately not be hired once background checks are completed.

If your state, city or county has a  version of the ban-the-box ordinance, you’ll want to review it closely, according to Because of the many variations, watch for the following hidden factors:
Type of employer: Policies could  apply to either public employers and/or private businesses and include or not include independent contractors
Factors of the crime and its relation to the job itself: There may be language that serves to test both the nature of the offense itself as well as its relevance to the job sought
Limitations on specific types of criminal records: In some cases, employers may not consider the criminal history at all
Applicant may need to be notified: Some ordinances require employers to notify an applicant when criminal information is being used (or was used when making the decision not to hire)

Right to Work, Equal Employment for All, Fair Chance or Ban the Box - the movement to limit the use of job   applicants’ criminal histories is  spreading. Job seekers with convictions that happened when they were young are now being given a  better opportunity for employment. And employers must pay close attention to what’s happening in their areas, adjusting hiring practices to stay within the emerging new legislation.


By Michael Surbaugh

Job reports often project future in-demand jobs, but those demands may go unanswered if these careers don’t align with the interests of young people - the individuals who will fill the jobs of tomorrow.  Exploring, a co-ed career-development program created by the Boy Scouts of America, released the findings of its Career Interest Survey that sheds light on what today’s young people will actually want to be when they grow up.  The survey highlights the need for programs that help bridge young people’s career interests with in-demand careers through hands-on experiences.
   The survey, which was fielded in 2016 to more than 150,000 students from 8th to 12th grade, gauged interest in more than 200 career options and resulted in a top 10 list that ranged from in-demand medical positions like nurses and physicians to more aspirational positions like professional athletes, singers and actors.  The survey also revealed that childhood   ambitions evolve with maturity.  Middle school respondents were twice as likely as their 12th grade counterparts to select careers in athletics and the arts, while interest in health and business careers increased as respondents entered high school.  In fact, the most popular careers were in STEM-related fields with 45% of respondents expressing the most  interest in careers such as physician, mechanical engineer, computer programmer or marine biologist, with the health care field drawing the most interest.
   Gender gaps persisted in numerous fields.  Female respondents expressed less interest in engineering, business and trades than men, while male students  expressed less interest in healthcare, social services, and arts and humanities.
18% of male students chose an engineering career, compared to 3% of females.
12% of male respondents expressed interest in a health   career compared to 40% of female respondents.
Male respondents were twice as likely to choose a business career as women (14% vs. 7%).
Young women who took the survey were 86% less likely than young men to say they want a career in computing - such as programming, support, analytics, and software development.

Time is Money Nearly Half of Workers Would Take Extra Vacation Time over a Pay Raise

By Steve Bent

   How priceless is time away from the office for today’s workers? According to new data from the 2017 Emerging Workforce® Study, nearly half (41%) say they would accept more paid vacation time in lieu of a pay raise if given the choice.
   The EWS also identified several compelling disconnects around paid time off policies. While 70% of workers consider paid vacation time a right of employment, rather than a benefit, a significantly lower number of employers (58%) share that view. Additionally, more than one-third (39%) of workers   consider their company’s paid vacation plan inferior to that of comparable industry competitors. These gaps underscore the critical connection between  vacation time and job satisfaction, and the importance for employers and employees to find a mutually-beneficial compromise.
   Although employees clearly are interested in obtaining more time away, the EWS also found that vacation remains a taboo topic and a source of stress for a significant segment of the workforce. Nearly one-third (30%) of employees say they feel guilty requesting paid vacation time, while 42% say they have hesitated to take paid time off for fear of disrupting their team’s workflow. EWS findings also point to a troubling trend in many corporate cultures where employees    cannot truly escape during their scheduled time off. More than one-fourth (28%) admit that their company expects them to work while they are on vacation, a practice that 22% of employers likewise agree with.
   Nonetheless, while both parties move toward a vacation compromise, businesses appear open to other strategies that grant workers a break from the daily grind. The Study found that just under half (43%) of companies occasionally allow their staff to devote time during the workday to community service projects. A similar number (47%) notes that their company offers sabbatical programs that allow employees to take an extended leave from the office, up 10% from the 2016 Study.
   Employers and employees alike have long debated the merits of and best   practices for vacation time, flexible schedules and other programs that contribute to better work/life balance. In fact, only 20% of workers say their company has improved its benefits and perks package within the last 12 months, and worker satisfaction with time and flexibility scored lower this year than in the previous four years. Yet, employers still rate the positive impact of work/life balance   programs on worker satisfaction, recruitment, retention and engagement higher this year than in each of the past four years.
   While employers continue to struggle with defining work/life balance programs for their employees, one thing is clear: workers increasingly want a more seamless divide between their work and personal lives. In fact, according to the EWS, 88% of workers say work/life programs heavily influence their decision when considering a new job.   The 2017 Study also explores employers’ and employees’ opinions on key workplace themes and topics including workplace collaboration, staff diversity and the transformation of the modern “office.”

Are You a Micromanager  How to Let Go

From The Managers’ Minute

Most micromanagers are not the overbearing, control freak egomaniacs we envision when we hear this word. They’re   well-meaning, bright people with high standards—people who care a lot about getting things done right.

Many of us have had an experience of being micromanaged—a boss hovering, never quite happy with the work you’re  doing, questioning every decision you make, yet never really giving you the reins.

Now that you’re the boss, keep this experience in mind as you ask yourself if you’re micromanaging.

We tell ourselves it’s our high standards that cause us to stay close to every project. And if you have a new employee, that may indeed be necessary. But once that employee is fully trained and up to speed on how things work, your hovering actually hurts productivity, the employee’s growth and your own ability to focus on other things.
Most micromanagers don’t realize they’re micromanaging. But it’s worth some self-evaluation. Remember how it felt to be micromanaged. You spend hours working on something only to have it dismissed or disregarded, making you feel like you’re wasting your time. It can cause you to doubt yourself or feel paranoid. It can make you frustrated or angry. And over time, you may decide to look for a new job … one where they appreciate and trust you to make a few decisions. You don’t want to be the cause of these negative reactions in your team.
Take a minute to assess your micromanaging tendencies by honestly reviewing these signs:
You think that you’re smarter, faster and more skilled, says This can frustrate you because you think only your way is the right way.
 You’re always swamped. This might be because you’re not delegating correctly and you’re keeping the important tasks for yourself.
 When you do give an assignment, you tell the person how to do the work, rather than just stating the goal and what a successful finish will look like
 You hover, needing to know what each of your employees is working on
 You want to be cc’d on emails
 You check in frequently when you’re away from the office
 You ask for needless updates and reports as the project progresses and at the first sign of trouble, you yank the job back
 You’re never quite satisfied with the work, suggests This makes people avoid meeting with you, your red pen and exacting standards. Your workers appear timid, tentative and paralyzed when performing even the most mundane task for fear of your irritation and because they’ve made a decision without consulting you first.
 When an employee makes a mistake, you fix it for him or her. By doing this, you make your employee feel inadequate and paranoid. You also keep them from learning and improving.
 Employees tell you you’re a micromanager
 Your team is experiencing high turnover
How to let go:
1. Understand why you’re micromanaging, suggests Are you afraid mistakes will make you look bad? You tell     yourself “too much is at stake to allow this to go wrong.” By taking a closer look at when you’re tempted to jump in to save the day, you’ll understand which projects, people or situations are making you anxious.
2. Focus on letting go of the details. Be clear on where you need to be involved. Let the rest go. Consider which projects your involvement really adds value to.
3. Talk to your team, so they understand your new priorities, suggests Now that you’ve carefully considered which things make you most anxious, let them know when you want to be involved and how. Clear the way for them by giving them greater access to resources and more authority to make decisions where possible.
4. Set clear expectations on “what” you need done. (What will the final outcome look like when it’s successful?) Don’t dictate the “how.” If you need help with delegating, check out this article. Let your employees know you trust them to rise to a      challenge.
5. Understand your employees’ capabilities and hire the right people. A new employee might need more input from you. A new project where there’s a lot at stake might also need closer scrutiny. Explain this to those employees so they know your micromanaging is temporary.  Additionally, if your self-assessment helps you see that your micromanaging tendencies      revolve around one or two specific low performing employees, consider whether the situation is being helped (or Hurt) by your close attention.

There’s a vast difference between being too hands off and micromanaging. Your goal is high productivity and high morale. Take a moment to really assess your management style. Consider what’s causing you to micromanage and take steps to let go, to delegate well and to trust your employees and help them trust themselves.

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