Tag Archives: employees

Armando Contreras, CEO of United Cerebral Palsy of Central Arizona

Circle K Raises $5.3 Million for UCP of Central Arizona

Through fundraising efforts at local stores and events throughout the State of Arizona and Las Vegas, Nevada, Circle K employees, customers and vendors generously helped raise over $5.3 million for UCP of Central and Southern Arizona, and Opportunity Village in Las Vegas, Nevada.    The funds donated support the organizations’ mission to help children and adults with disabilities including Down syndrome, autism, developmental delays, learning disabilities, and cerebral palsy.   Donations are collected every day when Circle K employees ask customers to donate their extra change at the register to benefit families and children with disabilities.  And vendors participating in the Aces High and Desert Klassic golf tournaments result in additional funding for UCP of Central Arizona’s important mission.

UCP would like to acknowledge Circle K for its extraordinary efforts in supporting UCP and its families.  “Circle K promotes a culture that is deeply rooted in corporate responsibility, giving back to the community and making a positive difference in the lives of others,” said Armando Contreras, CEO of United Cerebral Palsy of Central Arizona.  “UCP has been working in collaboration with Circle K for over 30 years, and with their help, thousands of children, adults and families have received the essential services they desperately need.  Because of the generosity from Circle K employees, customers and vendors, we have children and adults who were given the opportunity to speak their first words, take their first step, and give a loved one a hug for the first time,” he added.

“Our record contribution level this past year is testament to the caring and generous community spirit of everyone we have the great privilege to employ and serve,” said Paul Rodriguez, Vice President of the Arizona Division of Circle K.   “Our 30 year partnership speaks not just to the sincerity of the effort but also to the good and important work being done by UCP. Breakthroughs happen every day at the Dozer Center that our employees have the honor to witness and participate in. It lends greater meaning and higher purpose to each and every workday at Circle K. Everyone benefits,” Rodriguez added.

Circle K will be honored at United Cerebral Palsy’s annual event, Champions in Life Night Gala, scheduled for the evening of November 15, 2013 at the Ritz Carlton-Phoenix.  Circle K will be receiving the Laura Dozer Award, named after the daughter of Rich and Karie Dozer, who had cerebral palsy and passed in 2008.

Founded in 1952, the Central Arizona chapter of the nationally recognized agency has served as a private, non-profit health and human service organization for adults and children with disabilities and their families. UCP of Central Arizona’s programming is designed to help children and adults reach their full potential and improve the quality of life of their family members.

UCP is committed to creating possibilities and nurturing opportunities for children and adults with disabilities. To accomplish our vision, we’ve become a leader in providing therapies, independent living services, inclusive and integrated educational based programs, innovative social opportunities, and basic research. We also bring support to families as they face the daily challenges of raising a child with a disability and hope for a life without limits for their son or daughter.

To learn more, visit www.ucpofcentralaz.org.

tracking

Are Businesses Crossing Lines by Tracking Employees?

Nearly 10 years after real-time package- and people-tracking went viral with the advent of GPS-enabled cell phones, small businesses face two big concerns.

“One is expense. Small businesses, especially those still recovering from the worst recession in modern history, can’t always afford to provide their employees with GPS-equipped smart phones,” notes location-based services specialist George Karonis, founder and CEO of LiveViewGPS, Inc., provider of Mobile Phone Locate tracking service,  (www.mobilephonelocate.com).

“The second issue is privacy. People generally don’t want their employer to be a ‘big brother’ boss who can track their every move. It’s not because they’re doing something they shouldn’t, but because it invades their space, and the information could be misinterpreted or misused.”

But employee tracking has plenty of obvious benefits to small business owners:

• Provide baseline information. It gives businesses solid data to analyze for initiatives such as improving efficiency. Businesses with lots of workers in the field making deliveries or service calls can optimize routes and schedules.

• Improve customer service and satisfaction. Tracking helps a business tell people waiting somewhere for a delivery or service exactly where their package or service-person is and how long the wait will be.

• Improve response times. On-site coordinators can re-route workers in the field to respond to unscheduled calls in the most efficient way possible.

• Reduce costs. The greater efficiency provided by tracking helps lower costs by reducing both downtime and overtime.

So how can businesses circumvent affordability and employee privacy concerns?

One way is to accomplish both is to use a service that doesn’t involve extra equipment, including software, or a contract, Karonis says.

“If you’re not loading apps or software onto someone’s personal phone, it’s less intrusive for the employee and he or she will be more willing to allow use of their own phone. There’s also no added drain on the battery, because there’s no app constantly running in the background, and no hitch-hiking on their data plan or incurring a data charge,” he says.

“If you make it non-intrusive employees won’t tend to feel that you’re invading their privacy.”

Using a service that charges per location, with no requirement for a time-specific contract, is also more cost-efficient for the business, Karonis says.
“For the small business that’s merely seeking to improve efficiency and customer service, constant tracking isn’t necessary. That’s more appropriate in a situation where employers have large number of people constantly in the field, for instance, UPS. Or, employers who feel the need to monitor unproductive employees,” he says.

There’s a growing backlash as the public is subjected to more and more stalking – from cameras mounted at traffic lights to social networking sites recording shopping habits and topics of conversation, Karonis notes.

“We’ve reached a crossroads where we need to find a balance between surveillance that provides legitimate business advantages and surveillance that invades people’s privacy,” he says.

“It really is possible to strike that balance and, in a small business that thrives on trust, mutual respect and fully invested employees, it’s essential.”

volunteer

SRP Donates $94,500 to Nonprofit Agencies

Salt River Project employees are turning their volunteer hours into much-needed funds for the nonprofit organizations they assist through the SRP Dollars for Doers program.

The program contributes funds, ranging from $250 to $1,000, directly to community nonprofits based upon the number of volunteer hours donated during the 2012 calendar year by SRP employees. The grant program is designed to provide funding to nonprofit agencies that are also supported by the volunteer efforts of SRP employees.

“SRP has a distinct heritage built upon responding to the needs of our customers and the communities in which they live, and we recognize the value of providing support to organizations whose programs are improving the lives of our community,” said Jen Martyn who manages the SRP Volunteer Program.

SRP donated $94,500 to 106 nonprofit agencies in which 141 SRP employees donated more than 29,000 hours of their time and experience in cities throughout the Valley, including Avondale, Camp Verde, Casa Grande, Chandler, Douglas, El Mirage, Gilbert, Glendale, Higley, Litchfield Park, Mesa, Page, Peoria, Phoenix, Pine Top, Queen Creek, San Tan Valley, Scottsdale, St. Johns, Tempe and Tolleson and Tucson.

Employees contributed to their community in a number of ways, including:

· coaching youth football, baseball, soccer and swimming,
· providing children with special needs horse therapy rides,
· ushering during arts and cultural events,
· preparing meals for those in need,
· mentoring and providing leadership to youth and
· assisting schools through parent-teacher organizations and booster clubs.

Arizona Small Business Association seeks new CEO

Small Businesses Slowly Increasing Economic Activity

Small business owners are showing a willingness to hire more employees amidst signs of expanding business activity, according to the most recent Business Confidence Survey released today by Insperity, Inc., a leading provider of human resources and business performance solutions for America’s best businesses.  More than 40 percent of respondents say they are adding employees, up from 28 percent last October; 55 percent are maintaining current staffing levels, versus 63 percent last fall; and 5 percent are laying off employees, down from 9 percent in October.

Insperity also announced compensation metrics from its base of more than 5,500 small and medium-sized Workforce OptimizationTMclients.  Compared to the 2012 first quarter data, average compensation is up 3.7 percent and bonuses are down 0.6 percent.  Average commissions received by worksite employees reflected an increase of 4 percent versus a 2.6 percent increase in the first quarter of 2012.  Overtime pay is still low at 8.7 percent of regular pay, down from the 10 percent level seen last quarter that generally indicates a need for additional employees, but up slightly from 8.5 percent in the first quarter of 2012.

In the survey, 74 percent of respondents said that they are either meeting or exceeding their 2013 performance plans, up from 71 percent in the last survey; meanwhile, 26 percent report that they are doing worse than expected, down from the 29 percent response in October.  Concerning the timing of an economic rebound, 28 percent think one is currently in process versus 20 percent last fall; 26 percent expect a rebound in the third quarter or later; and 45 percent are unsure.  The percentage of those unsure of the timing of an economicrebound has remained at or above 40 for the last year.

“Business owners are slowly beginning to implement business plans that they hope will take advantage of any coming economic opportunities,” said Paul J. Sarvadi, Insperity’s chairman and chief executive officer.  “However, as in the previous survey, a significant number of respondents express continuing concerns about the negative impact of governmental policies on business activity.”  A representative comment from one participant was, “New federal regulations make plan execution difficult because more effort is going into avoiding penalties and less into delivering the product.”

Although the economy still leads the list of short-termconcerns of business owners, it dropped to 62 percent from 72 percent in October and 74 percent last July.  Government health care reform and rising health care costs are tied for second on the list at 51 percent, followed by hiring the right people, remaining at 42 percent.

For the list of longer-term concerns, 63 percent indicate they are either very concerned or have elevated concerns about potential tax increases, down from 69 percent in October; the Federal deficit and the total national debt ranked second at 60 percent; government expansion and its effect on business was third at 59 percent; and the economy dropped to fourth place at 50 percent, down sharply from 66 percent last October.

When asked about their pipelines for new business through 2013, 59 percent of survey respondents expect sales to increase, up from 52percent in October; 28 percent anticipate no change, down from 34 percent last fall; 7 percent predict decreasing sales and 7 percent are unsure, both thesame as the previous survey.

The survey results show that 59 percent of participantsexpect to maintain employee compensation at current levels through 2013, versus 53 percent in October; 26 percent plan increases versus 29 percent last October, but still up from 19 percent last July; 3 percent expect decreases; and 12 percent are unsure.

Concerning their current profit-generating activities, 67 percent listed increased service to existing clients as the leading strategy, and 66 percent cited selling new accounts.  This was followed by 50 percent saying they were adding new services or products versus 44 percent last fall; and 31 percent listing negotiating with vendors.

Insperity conducted the survey April 9-11, 2013, of more than 4,840 chief executive officers, chief financial officers and other executives in a variety of industries at its more than 5,500 client companies throughout the United States.  The overall sampling error of the national survey is +/- 4.25 percent at the 95 percent confidence level.

Insperity, a trusted advisor to America’s best businesses for more than 27 years, provides an array of human resources and business solutions designed to help improve business performance. InsperityTM Business Performance Advisors offer the most comprehensive suite of products and services available in the marketplace. Insperity delivers administrative relief, better benefits, reduced liabilities and a systematic way to improve productivity through its premier Workforce OptimizationTM solution.  Additional company offerings include Human Capital Management, Payroll Services, Time and Attendance, Performance Management, Organizational Planning, Recruiting Services, Employment Screening, Financial Services, Expense Management, Retirement Services and Insurance Services.  Insperity business performance solutions support more than 100,000 businesses with over 2 million employees.  With 2012 revenues of $2.2 billion, Insperity operates in 57 offices throughout the United States.  For more information, visit http://www.insperity.com.

rsz_phoenix_childrens_southwest_valley_center-1

Kitchell Completes Phoenix Children’s Southwest Valley Center

 

Kitchell completed construction of the Phoenix Children’s Southwest Valley Center in Avondale, a new specialty and urgent care center serving West Valley communities and featuring Phoenix Children’s special brand of pediatric care.

The 35,3550 SF urgent and pediatric clinic is a precursor to long-term plans for a larger, more comprehensive facility that doubles the medical space and includes a 48-bed, full-service children’s hospital.

The $14.7M facility includes 27 patient rooms, two treatment rooms, x-ray, ultrasound, three infusion bays and on-site lab services. The Center complements children’s health care services already in the West Valley, with specialties include hematology/oncology, gastroenterology, neuro-psychology evaluations, testing, orthopedics/sports medicine, neurology, psychiatry, pulmonology, urology, dermatology, developmental pediatrics, endocrinology, diabetes education, special needs, ultrasound, radiology, fluoroscopy, lab, and rehabilitation services including occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy and infusion services.

Located just north of Interstate 10 on Avondale Boulevard, the Phoenix Children’s – Southwest Valley Center received strong support from the West Valley communities including the mayors of Avondale, Tolleson, Litchfield Park, Goodyear and Buckeye.

The facility is the fourth Phoenix Children’s specialty and urgent care center. Others are located in East Mesa, Northwest Phoenix/Glendale and Scottsdale.

 

Rendering of the amphitheater at the Great Park at Eastmark.

Eastmark Grand Opening Set For June 1 With Full Day of Activities

 

The first new large-scale integrated community to launch in Metro Phoenix in 10 years will hold a grand opening from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on June 1 to showcase its first phase of residential homes and the first phase of the Eastmark Great Park.

Eastmark, located in the heart of the East Valley, is a new community focused on creating a connected life for its residents, employers and visitors.

To debut Eastmark to the public, DMB is planning a day of festivities that will include music throughout the parks system, family games and entertainment and activities for all ages to encourage the community to discover the lifestyle at Eastmark.

Tours of 14 new home models from seven homebuilders will be available to guests. Every home design in Eastmark features a new floorplan designed for this community.

Eastmark’s phase one builders are:

>> Maracay Homes

>> Mattamy Homes

>> Taylor Morrison

>> Woodside Homes

>> Ryland Homes

>> Standard Pacific Homes

>> Meritage Homes Corporation

At the grand opening, visitors will be able to explore The ‘Mark, Eastmark’s Visitors and Community Center; enjoy the first 10 acres of the Eastmark Great Park; 11 neighborhood parks, piazzas and plazas; and landscaped, tree-lined streets and parkways.

Trollies and pedicabs will take guests around the community to enjoy outdoor concerts, kite flying and other demonstrations, food trucks and refreshments throughout the day.

“Eastmark is one of the most thoughtfully designed communities in the country. In our planning, we’ve artfully blended residential areas, employment cores, recreation and commerce to complement each other,” said Dea McDonald, DMB’s Senior Vice President and Eastmark’s General Manager.

“Eastmark’s grand opening will give guests an opportunity to engage in ‘Life in Motion’ and enjoy fun, family-friendly activities and exciting looks at this community which is unlike anything else in Arizona.”

If you go 

WHAT: Eastmark’s Grand Opening – Life in Motion

WHEN: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, June 1, 2013

WHERE: Ray and Ellsworth Roads in Mesa

COST: Admission is Free

 

rsz_university_center

Cushman & Wakefield Negotiates $23.5M Sale of University Center

 

Cushman & Wakefield of Arizona negotiated the $23.5M sale of the three-building University Center to the Arizona Board of Regents. This marks an acquisition for future expansion of Arizona State University.

University Center , located at Rural Rd. and University Dr., is situated across the street from ASU. The three buildings, 1100, 1130 and 1150 E. University Dr., contain a total of 169,997 SF of space. The 1130 and 1150 E. University Dr. buildings are three-story office structures, while the 1100 E. University Dr. is a single story flex building.

University Center was constructed in 1986/1987 and is occupied by major tenants that include Arizona State University, ACS Commercial Solutions, Nationwide Recovery and Laureate College.

The Arizona Board of Regents purchased the property from Travelers of St Paul, Minn., paying approximately $138.40 per SF.

“We have had the privilege to work with Travelers and Arizona Commercial Management on University Center for over 14 years,” says Karsten Peterson with Cushman & Wakefield of Arizona. “This project has, and will continue to be, a quality location for years to come. University Center has always enjoyed a great relationship with ASU as a Tenant and we are pleased to see ASU progress this relationship into ownership.”

Peterson, Dave Seeger and Mark Gustin of Cushman & Wakefield represented Travelers in the sale negotiations. Peter Lyons of Arizona Commercial Management also assisted in representation of the seller. Curtis Brown of Ross Brown Partners represented the buyer.

 

 

BIG Green Expo & Conference 2011

Speaker: Sonja Bochart ~ BIG Green Expo & Conference 2011

Sonja Bochart, SmithGroup

Sonja Bochart, SmithGroupSonja Bochart, a green design advocate, has more than 15 years of experience as an interior designer and is an active member of the U.S. Green Building Council and the International Living Building Institute.As an associate at SmithGroup, she actively promotes holistic design approaches and healthy work environments for commercial design projects and is NCIDQ Certified and a LEED Accredited Professional.

Ms. Bochart is knowledgeable on how green design affects clients’ biggest bottom line—their employees—as well as the benefits of green design, the biggest obstacles faced for “greening” interior spaces and identifying resources to streamline change.Striving to expand the boundaries of conventional design practices, she strives to send a message that well designed projects respect and support their surrounding environment, and in turn these projects promote the health, wellness, productivity of their occupants and nourishes their spirits.

To continuously expand her insight into the latest developments in the field of design and share her knowledge, Ms. Bochart actively participants in several industry organizations, publishes and speaks frequently on related topics, and teaches at Arizona State University. Her portfolio includes educational, community and international medical facilities as well as corporate spaces and mixed use structures.

Through her efforts to synthesize the latest research into her designs and teaching, her contribution has helped to shape happier, healthier and more sustainable interiors.


Topic: An informative presentation on Biophilic Design, nature-inspired architecture, and how it is the next great design journey of our times.

Conference Speaker
Friday, April 15, 2011
3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Room 155

BIG Green Conference 2011


 

BIG Green Expo
Friday & Saturday
April 15th & 16th 2011
9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

 



Employee Discontent Experiences Sharp Rise

Employee Discontent Experiences Sharp Rise, Study Finds

Workers are poised for a mass exodus next year, according to a poll of more than 1,400 workers in North America by Right Management. Employees are feeling increasingly restless and intend to leave in droves if opportunities open up in the job market.

Eighty-four percent of the employees polled say they plan to look for new jobs in 2011, up from 60 percent reported in Right Management’s survey a year ago. Only 5 percent now say they intend to remain in their current position.

“This finding is more about employee dissatisfaction and discontent than projected turnover,” says Douglas J. Matthews, President and Chief Operating Officer for Right Management. “We view it as a barometer of their trust in management or commitment to the job. It’s a workplace equivalent to opinion polling on whether or not ‘this country is moving in the right direction.’ Just as people are questioning their elected leaders in government, so too are workers wondering if their management is up to the challenge of renewed growth or developing a sound strategy moving forward.”

Matthews observed that the prolonged recession, continued job market weakness, along with disruptive economic and workforce changes are the underlying factors contributing most to employees’ backlash. “Employees’ trust has been seriously shaken and there is a general lack of confidence in leaders.”

The discontent is widespread, but this doesn’t mean an organization’s management is helpless, but nor can they afford to ignore the problem. “Clearly, if the job market picks up a lot next year many employees are going to take advantage of it, and organizations stand to lose some of their top contributors. So this is a wake-up call to management.”

One step management should take, Matthews advises, is to identify star performers and have open and constructive career discussions with them. “High value employees always have opportunities available to them. Know who they are and be sure to take care of them in ways that are meaningful and aligned with the businesses goals.”

Matthews noted that restlessness can also be alleviated by managers being honest and positive with employees. “Provide them with feedback on what they are doing really well and ways to help them improve. A mentoring relationship between the manager and employee will build mutual trust and hopefully limit future defections.”

Right Management surveyed 1,413 employees in the United States via an online poll. The survey ran between Oct. 11 and Nov. 15, 2010.

Health Care Reform in Arizona - AZ Business Magazine Nov/Dec 2010

Business And Community Leaders Are Trying To Figure Out What Health Care Reform Will Mean In Arizona

For government and business, providers and patients, the U.S. health care reform legislation promises a new world of costs and care.

Most individuals without insurance will be able to get it. Those who have insurance already probably will have to pay more for it. Hospitals, doctors and others in the front lines of health care will begin to change long-established ways of doing business. State governments and many businesses, already battered by recession, will face new costs and possibly some benefits.

But beyond these generalizations, little is certain about what health care reform will mean in Arizona and across the country. The bill is vague in many areas and leaves important details of implementation to be determined by federal regulators and other officials in the weeks and months ahead.

“Quite frankly, we won’t know the financial impacts until we move through the process and see what the federal government and insurance companies do,” says Donna Davis, chief executive officer of the Arizona Small Business Association (ASBA).

Barry Broome, president and chief executive officer of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC), says it is too early know what the bill will mean.

“It sounds very good to be able to cover the uninsured, but what the costs are and how they are going to be distributed are still not clear,” he says.

Marjorie Baldwin, director of the School of Health Management and Policy and assistant dean at Arizona State University’s W. P. Carey School of Business, says it is important to note that the law’s primary purpose is to cover the uninsured.

“This bill is about access,” Baldwin says. “It’s designed to cover the uninsured. There is much less in it about quality of care and little about cost controls.”

On what the price tag for health care reform will be, Baldwin says, “The one safe prediction is that it is going to cost much more than anticipated.”

Hospitals and doctors
Whether the health care overhaul is ultimately deemed a success will be determined to a large extent by what happens inside the nation’s hospitals, clinics and doctors’ offices.

Peter Pavarini, a health care lawyer for Squire, Sanders and Dempsey and an adviser to health care organizations, believes hospitals are actually well-positioned to adapt to the new law.

“Hospitals have been anticipating something happening for some time,” Pavarini says. “Hospitals have the resources to prepare better than some of the other players in the health care system.”

Several provisions in the law are expected to lead to a dramatic shift in the way hospitals are paid by insurance. Under the existing system, providers receive set rates for specific medical procedures. The new law moves toward a system in which hospitals receive a set amount for treating an overall condition or a so-called “bundled payment.” This shift is expected to require more detailed treatment plans, coordinated care and closer cooperation among hospitals and physicians.

“With the bundled payments, you have to have a more integrated approach and an approach that aligns physicians and hospitals,” says Suzanne Pfister, vice president of external affairs at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix.

The hospital already has been moving in this direction, according to Pfister. St. Joseph’s has forged a series of partnerships with area health care organizations, including outpatient and short-stay providers United Surgical Partners and SimonMed Imaging
.
“We are continuing to look at moving from acute care to a continuum of care,” Pfister says.

Pavarini believes the new payment systems for Medicaid and Medicare will bring big changes to care at hospitals. When the system is in place, hospitals will get a set payment for delivering all of the care a patient receives from 72 hours before admission to 30 days after discharge, he notes.

“That’s a whole different model from what we have now,” Pavarini says. “This means it’s not good enough just to get the patient in and out of the hospital. It means testing can’t be duplicative. And it means patients better be ready for discharge when they’re released.”

Pavarini says doctors and hospitals will need to cooperate more closely as the law is implemented. He sees hospitals forging formal alliances with physician groups and appointing more practicing physicians to their boards of directors.
A more basic concern for hospitals is how much they will be paid. Because expansion of Medicaid is a key feature of the law, hospitals are concerned about long-term revenue.

“Payments are going to shift more to the level of Medicaid, and Medicaid has not been a particularly good payer,” Pfister says.

Officials at Phoenix-based Banner Health, one of the largest nonprofit health care systems in the country, are still examining the legislation to assess its consequences.

“This reform is primarily about health insurance, not health care reform,” the organization said in a statement. “It will result in expanded AHCCCS (Medicaid) coverage in Arizona and access to insurance, but the need remains to address reducing the cost of health care.”

The bill includes a number of provisions that will increase the role of primary-care physicians. Medicaid fees will go up for primary-care doctors, who also will be eligible for bonuses from Medicare.

St. Joseph’s is concerned about being able to find enough physicians as health care reform is implemented in the coming years, according to Pfister.

“Arizona has fewer physicians per capita than the national average, so we face that already. Arizona does not have enough primary-care physicians and even some specialists,” she says.

The larger hospitals that have formal ties to physicians and other providers probably will fare best under health care reform, according to Pavarini. But he believes smaller, more isolated hospitals will struggle and some will close.

“Arizona has a number of smaller hospitals in less populated areas,” he says. “I think the outlying hospitals in rural communities could have difficulty.”

Businesses
While all businesses will be affected by the health care reform law, some will feel it more than others. Probably least affected will be firms that already provide health insurance now and have a pool of employees large enough to allow the companies to self-insure.

“For most large businesses, fundamentally there’s not a lot of change,” says Keith Maio, president and chief executive officer of National Bank of Arizona. “For us, we’ll have to be a little more paperwork conscious.”

ASU’s Baldwin says the principal effect on large employers will be slightly higher expenses, as they absorb some of the cost of the system’s expanded coverage.

“For larger employers, the law is not going to mean a big difference, but they are going to see their costs go up,” she says.

Smaller businesses though will face new uncertainties, and, for some, significant new costs.

“I would say that there is a cloud of concern generally for small businesses,” says Maio, whose bank has many small business customers. “People who have been through the recession and are still slugging it out have learned to survive. But they still have trouble seeing how they can get back to where they were . That’s why something like the health care bill can have such an impact.”

The law offers a complex mix of incentives and penalties designed to spur employers to offer health insurance. In 2014, employers with 50 or more workers who do not provide coverage will face penalties of $2,000 or $3,000 per employee. Some employers who provide insurance and have fewer than 50 workers will be eligible for tax credits.

“In a sense there is both a carrot and a stick,” says Bradford Kirkman-Liff, professor in the School of Health Management and Policy at W. P Carey. “The idea is to create a very strong incentive to provide insurance.”

The tax credits could offset as much as half of the insurance costs for some employers, Kirkman-Liff notes.

“Arizona has a high number of small employers. Many of them don’t provide health insurance, but some do. This would give them a reason not to drop it,” he says.

The law also instructs states to establish insurance exchanges, where small employers and individuals can purchase policies from insurance companies. The exchanges are designed to bring down the cost of insurance by combining groups of buyers into large pools.

But even with government subsidies and insurance exchanges, some businesses will find the burden too large, according Maio.

“The greatest impact will be on those that employ entry-level employees,” he says. “Arizona has a lot of lower-wage businesses who won’t be able to afford to provide insurance. I think some will opt to pay the fine. Then what have you accomplished?”

Another problem that Maio sees is the 50-employee threshold for the coverage requirement. Employers with fewer than 50 can escape penalties for not providing insurance.

“Have you given them a disincentive to adding people?” he asks.

Davis at ASBA says most business owners are focused on short-term challenges and do not have a clear picture of how the law will affect them.

“For some small businesses who fit the prescribed requirements, it will help offset some of their costs,” Davis says. “For others, it simply won’t.”

Avnet's Roy Vallee On Leadership

Avnet’s Roy Vallee On Leadership

Thirty-seven years ago Roy Vallee was stocking shelves at a small electronics distribution company in Los Angeles. That small firm has grown up to become Avnet, Inc., a Fortune 500 firm located in Phoenix, Arizona. Avnet is one of the largest distributors of electronic parts, enterprise computing and storage products, and embedded subsystems in the world. And Roy Vallee is the CEO and chairman of the board. One morning recently, marketing professor  Antony Peloso sat down with Mr. Vallee to talk about Avnet, his leadership style, and how to motivate employees — even in a far-flung global operation. Professor Peloso leads the Marketing Professional Sales and Relationship Management Initiative, which fosters strong relationships between students who are headed for careers in sales, marketing faculty members and corporate partners. The goal is to build professional sales capabilities and advance the profile and status of the sales function. And now let’s hear what Mr. Vallee has to say about one the toughest jobs of leadership: motivating employees. (26:42)

The podcast no longer works, please check the wpcarey website for the transcript.

hardison/downey

hardison/downey Becomes Part of Kitchell

Two familiar names in Arizona’s construction industry are joining forces as hardison/downey construction inc. becomes part of Kitchell Corp., it was announced today.

The move is a transitioning from a joint-venture partnership between the two companies for the past four years.

“We have both historically served very distinct markets and rarely compete for business,” Kitchell CEO Jim Swanson said. “Our joint venture partnership in recent years demonstrates that our corporate values and cultures are closely aligned, so this transition makes perfect sense.”

Both Bob Hardison and Pat Downey, as well as the current management team including Jim Kurtzman, Mike Mongelli and Terri Rosko will remain involved in the company, overseeing the day-to-day operations and client relationships.

“I can’t imagine a better segue at this juncture in hardison/downey’s growth,” Hardison said. “We have worked with Kitchell for decades on various projects, and I’ve always had tremendous respect for their entrepreneurial spirit and diversity of services. Now hardison/downey will be a part of that storied success.”

Kitchell and hardison/downey have had a longstanding partnership that has spanned more than 20 years, and in 2006 evolved into a joint venture partnership specializing in building campus and senior housing communities. Under the name hardison/downey/kitchell, the JV’s projects include the LEED-Gold certified Barrett Honors College and Vista del Sol at Arizona State University. The JV’s current projects are Amethyst Gardens, a retirement and assisted living community in Peoria and student housing projects at the University of New Mexico.

hardison/downey will maintain its autonomy and its location – down the street from Kitchell’s corporate offices. The company will retain all of its employees, many whom have been with the company since its inception.

Three business people standing together with arms around each other

Are You A Kind Boss?

Look in the mirror and ask yourself: What kind of boss are you? Do you resemble Cruella De Vil from “101 Dalmatians” – a heartless, puppy-snatcher who orders her hapless henchmen to carry out her cruel demands? Or are you more like Obi-Wan Kenobi in “Star Wars” — a dedicated, knowledgeable, soft-spoken Jedi Master with a wry sense of humor?

What are the characteristics of a good boss? While there are far too many traits to mention, here are the top three traits necessary to motivate workers:

A kind boss is someone who solves problems and manages conflict

Studies show that full-time employees spend nearly three hours per week dealing with conflict. Poorly managed conflict can bring serious problems to the workplace, including personal insults and attacks, sickness or absence, and can even lead to someone leaving the company. Instead of avoiding conflict, a good manager uses it as a means to produce a better solution to a workplace problem. Numerous books discuss how to deal with conflict. One that specifically deals with five primary styles of handling conflict is “Introduction to Conflict Management: Improving Performance Using the TKI” by Kenneth Thomas.

A kind boss is someone who practices direct, open communications

In this jobless recovery, employees spend nearly three hours a day worrying about job security. A survey by Lynn Taylor Consulting found that management may be unwittingly fueling this fear by staying behind closed doors: 76 percent of employees said that a closed door triggers thoughts of being laid off. Employees want more communication — whether good news or bad — because it makes them feel like they matter.

A kind boss is someone who invests in employees

A soft economy is the perfect time for managers to think of ways other than money to motivate employees. In a recent survey by SkillSoft, eight out of 10 employees stated they would have higher job satisfaction if they received more on-the-job training. Helping employees acquire new skills and assume greater responsibility to advance professionally is one of the most effective ways managers can promote loyalty, improve performance and build future leaders.

Most Admired Companies - AZ Business Magazine Sept/Oct 2010

2010 Most Admired Companies Winners – Workplace Culture

The Workplace Culture category recognizes companies with unique workplaces that offer employees benefits and perks, and emphasize diversity and other qualities that make the company a great place to work.

Winner: BeachFleischman PC
Category: Workplace Culture
Headquarters: Tucson
Year Est.: 1991
No. of Employees in AZ: 104
Recent Award: Accounting Today’s Best Accounting Firms to Work For – 2009
www.beachfleischman.com


video by Sonoran Studios

Although working at a CPA firm can be stressful, employees at Tucson-based BeachFleischman enjoy fun and relaxation alongside their jobs. In-house massages and ice cream socials are just a few of the ways employees recharge at the office. Work success is celebrated by featuring team stories in the company newsletter. Outside of work, the social and wellness committees take over and lead employees in a number of fun activities. Baseball games, barbecues, tennis clinics and rock climbing are some of the other ways BeachFleischman’s staff and shareholders bond while blowing off some steam.

The diversity of out-of-work activities is not the only thing BeachFleischman prides itself on. The company recruits from all over Arizona and out of state to find a diverse mix of potential employees. BeachFleischman wants the diversity of its employees to mirror the diversity of Tucson’s demographics. The company believes diversity promotes creativity and innovation, while providing an expanded knowledge base that allows it to serve a broader group of clients.

BeachFleischman also encourages its employees to pursue continual education. On average, professional staff members receive 40-60 hours of education each year. BeachFleischman encourages employees to receive professional licenses by paying for test preparation, and employees receive a bonus for passing their CPA exams. Employees who pass the CPA exam are treated to a happy hour to celebrate their success. With continuing education as a main goal, there are many opportunities to climb the corporate ladder within BeachFleischman. In 2009, BeachFleischman was named on Accounting Today’s list of Best Accounting Firms to Work For.


M&I Make Strides Walk

Finalist: M&I Bank
Category:
Workplace Culture
Headquarters: Phoenix
Year Est.: 1847
No. of Employees in AZ: 625
Recent Award: Alfred P. Sloan Award for Business Excellence in Workplace Flexibility – 2009
www.micorp.com

The Golden Rule is M&I Bank’s rule of thumb. By encouraging employees to follow the adage, “Treat others as you would like to be treated,” M&I allows everyone to be heard and respected. The company ensures a diversity of thoughts and perspectives through a multicultural and multigenerational work force. All thoughts and perspectives are welcomed with open ears.

M&I offers its employees flex-scheduling, tuition reimbursement, adoption assistance, plus everyone is eligible for wellness reimbursement to cover some of the expenses of health club memberships or weight control programs. Also, MiMentor is an online mentorship program that allows employees to connect across the organization. M&I not only wants its employees to be dedicated to their jobs, but also to extra-curricular activities such as volunteering and health-and-wellness pursuits. In 2009, M&I won the Alfred P. Sloan Award for Business Excellence in Workplace Flexibility.


Shutterfly

Finalist: Shutterfly
Category: Workplace Culture
Headquarters: Redwood City, Calif.
Year Est.: 1999
No. of Employees in AZ: 124
Recent Award: Ranked on Internet Retailers Hot 100 list – 2009
www.shutterfly.com | Facebook | Twitter

Shutterfly’s employee culture focuses on four major aspects: respect, innovation, achievement and customer centricity. The respect fostered in the Shutterfly offices creates a family atmosphere and an engaged work force that is encouraged through the sharing of ideas to be innovative. Innovation does not only relate to the employees and the products and services Shutterfly offers. It also describes Shutterfly workplaces, which are filled with beanbag chairs, pictures taken by employees, bright colors and white boards for constant brainstorming.

After work, employees can still see the benefits of working for Shutterfly. Employees can borrow a professional camera for their own use, take a free photo editing class and receive a gym membership discount. All of these benefits help to produce a high-performance culture in which employees hold themselves and each other to high standards of achievement. Shutterfly wants employees to have fun while working at a higher performance level in order to better serve the customer.


To buy a print version of the 2010 Arizona’s Most Admired Companies
go to MagCloud.com

Arizona's Most Admired Companies November-December 2010

hr_director_sm_biz

2009 Small Business HR Director Of The Year Finalists


Jerrie MartinezName: Jerrie Martinez-Palombo, M. Ed., SPHR
Title: Human Resource Manager
Company: Jaburg & Wilk P.C.

Years with company: 2
Years in current position: 2
Company established: 1984
Employees in AZ: 70
Employees in HR department: 2
www.jaburgwilk.com

Jaburg & Wilk P.C., has a significant investment in its employees. That’s why the law firm places a strong emphasis on mentoring and other techniques to help employees integrate into the company and remain on the job.

Human Resource Manager Jerrie Martinez is involved in the firm’s mentoring and law clerk programs, which are designed to help attorneys develop specific skills and enhance their work experience. Each new attorney hired at Jaburg & Wilk is placed in mentoring. Each mentoring pair works toward at least three goals, one of which is a balance between work and personal life. Mentors also help younger attorneys attain partnerships.

For support staff, Martinez established what the firm calls a “guide team” that was patterned after the formal attorney mentoring program. The team helps integrate new staff into the organization, provides a variety of resources and offers informal mentoring. In addition, Martinez was instrumental in establishing a customized, on-demand training program to help support staff with their professional development.

Jaburg & Wilk also believes in offering unusual activities so employees can have fun. Martinez spearheads Speed Chatting, which is much like speed dating. Employees spend five minutes getting to know each other before they move on to the next person. Last January, employees rode the light rail system to Downtown Tempe, where they participated in a scavenger hunt. Employees also pay $5 for the privilege of wearing jeans to work, and the employee of the month selects his or her favorite charity to receive the money. The firm matches the contribution.



Hopi SlaughterName: Hopi Slaughter
Title: Human Resources and Legal Assistant
Company: Rose Law Group pc

Years with company: 3
Years in current position: 3
Company established: 2005
Employees in AZ: 25
Employees in HR department: 1
www.roselawgroup.com

As Rose Law Group pc goes about its business of providing legal services, there is a concerted effort unfolding behind the scenes to make the Scottsdale firm a great place to work.

The company focuses on identifying internal problems before they mushroom into issues that might prompt employees to seek jobs elsewhere. Hopi Slaughter, human resources and legal assistant, is charged with making that happen. She is known for her open-door policy; any employee can talk to her about any topic. Also, partners who notice employee conflicts alert Slaughter and she intervenes.

Rose Law Group is committed to being a true family and Slaughter helps with numerous efforts that are undertaken to make that a reality. Celebrations out of the office are common when an attorney wins a large case or someone fulfills a major company goal. Awards are given for hours billed and bonuses are handed out for positive reviews.

Weekly newsletters and updates recognize employee accomplishments and hard work. Those successes also are discussed at weekly team meetings. Monthly get-togethers are held for team-building exercises and simply to have some down time. At monthly brown-bag lunches, an employee gives a presentation on a topic so that, over time, employees have a better understanding of what the law firm does as a business and the areas in which it specializes.

Employees also receive tuition reimbursement for approved classes, along with a flexible work schedule so they can attend the classes. They are encouraged to attend lectures and seminars on any topic, as well.

hr_director_med_biz

2009 Medium Business HR Director Of The Year Finalists

Anthony NardiName: Anthony Nardi
Title: Director of Employee Services
Company: Roskamp Sun Health

Years with company: 13
Years in current position: 13
Company established: 1998
Employees in AZ: 450
Employees in HR dept.: 4
www.rshaz.com

What does a carrot named Garrett have to do with attracting and retaining quality employees? Quite a bit at Roskamp Sun Health, a Surprise-based company that operates senior residential-care communities in northwest Phoenix.

Realizing that not all managers praise staff members for a job well done, Anthony Nardi — Roskamp’s director of employee services — developed a program called Carrot Culture. Employees who excel in their performance are praised and presented with a small stuffed carrot named Garrett that they can wear. Employees who receive the honor are given the opportunity to award a Garrett to another employee, who is singled out for recognition. Employees who receive a Garrett are inducted into the Carrot Culture Club. All Roskamp employees, from management to entry level, are eligible for the recognition.

Community residents, visitors or other employees also may nominate staff members for performance recognition in a Caught In the Act program. Employees are honored with a quarterly customer-service award, as well.

Among his many responsibilities, Nardi also gets residents involved in employee development. He coordinates a program in residents tutor employees in English and U.S. citizenship testing. Roskamp employees from Iraq, Mexico, Turkey, Poland, Jordan and Russia have benefited from the tutoring. Web-based training also helps employees grow professionally.

Roskamp visibly demonstrates work force diversity in the high number of women and minorities it employs. Diversity is celebrated in Food From Around the World events in which employees wear native dress, enact country dance themes and share their ethnic cultures.


Elizabeth ToshName: Elizabeth Tosh
Title: Human Resources Generalist for Arizona and New Mexico
Company: Diamond Resorts International

Years with company: 4
Years in current position: 4
Company established: 1994
No. of employees in AZ: 430
No. of employees in HR dept.: 2
www.diamondresorts.com

As a global hospitality company, Diamond Resorts International has a diverse customer base. That’s why diversity in its employee ranks is vital to providing quality customer service.

With Elizabeth Tosh serving as human resources generalist in Scottsdale, the Las Vegas-based company can boast a truly varied work force in Arizona. For example, an employee at one resort gift shop is more than 80 years old. She happily works alongside employees in their 20s. One of the company’s Arizona salespersons is deaf. She not only interacts efficiently with her co-workers, she also conducts sales tours in sign language for deaf guests.

With duties covering both Arizona and New Mexico, Tosh plays an active role in recruiting and retaining talented employees. She holds classes for managers and supervisors on how to effectively advertise, interview and retain high-quality staff. Knowing that great employees usually know other outstanding employees, Tosh makes sure Diamond Resorts’ staff members are aware of the company’s international employee referral program. She also directs employees to a variety of training programs offered by the company and conducts in-office training on a variety of topics.

Tosh works diligently to help employees understand they can grow professionally with Diamond Resorts and that she will assist them with changing positions or applying for a promotion.

Tosh also leads classes on the company’s benefits options and how employees can determine which package is best for them. In addition, she empowers managers to work with employees at times of illness or family-related issues when a leave of absence is needed.

hr_team

2009 HR Team Of The Year Honoree


Phoenix Suns LogoCompany: Phoenix Suns
Web: www.suns.com

Company Established: 1968
Employees in AZ: 200
Employees in HR department: 6

The Phoenix Suns human resources department is known not only as the “go-to” place for a wealth of information, but also as a warm and welcoming office for all employees who walk through the door.

Six people comprise the Suns’ human resources team. Peter Wong is vice president of human resources and Karen Rausch is human resources director. Wong is an adjunct faculty member at Scottsdale Community College and a member of the Corporate Leadership Council and the Sports Network. He is also a board member of the Sports & Entertainment Human Resource Forum and sits on the diversity committee of the Women’s Sports Foundation. Rausch is a member of the Valley of the Sun Human Resource Association and chairs the National Basketball Association’s compensation committee.

The Suns human resources team works in a male-dominated industry, yet its own ranks are half women. It sets an example for the company’s commitment to diversity in another way — half its employees are minorities. In fact, companywide, 38 percent of the people who work for the Suns are women and 37 percent are minorities. Human resources strives for a diverse mix of job candidates by developing outreach programs with Goodwill, Job Corps and the Arizona State University career center.

The Suns’ human resources team has made its mark in a number of ways. It established a leadership group for women in management positions. This year, the leadership group hosted a reception with “Good Morning America” anchor Robin Roberts, who shared professional and personal experiences as a working woman. Katie Pushor, former president and CEO of the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, recently spoke to the group about leading employee teams.

The human resources team also sponsors a leadership committee, a monthly discussion group that includes the CEO, executive management, managers and supervisors throughout the Suns organization. Coordination of the agenda is rotated among members. Each member has an opportunity to prepare presentations and arrange speakers from the Phoenix business community. Suns players and coaches also speak to the group. The leadership committee provides managers with information about the company and discusses trends and opportunities within the sports industry.

Employee recognition involves a number of programs organized by human resources. The department conducts all-employee meetings in which Suns owners and executives provide business updates and presentations are given by players, industry specialists and sports personalities. There also are service awards and a program for employee of the month.

AH Endovascular OR Suite

Executives From West Valley Hospitals Assess The Impact Of The Current Economy

The need for health care services continues to grow across the state, including the West Valley. And under the current recession, hospitals are being asked to do more with less.

Jon Bartlett, CEO of Arrowhead Hospital, says the health care industry is not immune to the impact of the bad economy, but he remains optimistic about the current and future state of the market.

“There are plenty of challenges, but we remain focused and disciplined,” he says.

In fact, he believes West Valley communities are home to some of the finest hospitals around, and the members of the community wouldn’t have it any other way.

“Today, people expect the very best health care outcomes, but they also demand world-class service,” Bartlett says. “It is our responsibility to meet their expectations.”

Arrowhead Hospital has been recognized with three stars in the Society of Thoracic Surgeons’ national database in 2007 and 2008 for its superior cardiovascular surgery outcomes.

Tom Dickson is CEO of Banner Thunderbird Medical Center, a 413-bed acute care hospital that specializes in cardiovascular care, neurology care, pediatrics, obstetrics and emergency medicine. He says the slowing economy has actually allowed West Valley hospitals to catch up with their demands.

“Generally, the West Valley has been underserved in terms of acute care beds,” Dickson says. “Now that the economy has slowed and several hospitals have added additional beds, we are not in as critical condition as we were in recent years.”

With a recent expansion of the South Tower, which can grow to accommodate 600 beds, Dickson says his biggest challenge is retaining existing employees and recruiting additional workers to staff the additional beds and programs and services that are growing as a result of the tower.

“The most critical area of need is registered nurses,” he says. “We also have an acute shortage of physicians and other medical professions, including physical therapists, respiratory therapists, pharmacists and medical technologists.”

Jo Adkins, CEO of West Valley Hospital, says the West Valley currently has an adequate amount of hospital beds, but that may not be the case for very long.

“As growth returns to the West Valley, we will need to look at growth of both beds and services,” she says. “We need to stay in touch with the communities’ needs and grow the services so that we can remain a hospital of choice.”

Meanwhile, West Valley Hospital is already very strong in a number of specialties, including its heart and vascular center, chest pain center, emergency room, electrophysiology and obstetrics. But Adkins doesn’t mince words when it comes to the challenges facing the health care industry.

“(It has) taken a large hit,” she says.

Naming two recent 5 percent budget cuts, she adds, “That has had a $3.6 million impact on West Valley Hospital alone.”

Beyond working to overcome the challenges facing the industry as a whole, the leaders of these hospitals are 100 percent dedicated to providing the superior service they believe their community members deserve.

Bartlett notes that the emergency department at Arrowhead Hospital is making a concerted effort to decrease wait times, promising that patients are seen in less than half an hour.

“Our average wait time is 19 minutes,” he says.

And while Arrowhead Hospital does have plans to expand from 220 beds to 260 within the next 18 months, Bartlett explains that he doesn’t just want to grow, he wants to make sure the hospital is getting consistently better.

Lee Peterson, CEO of Sun Health Services (formerly Sun Health Properties), which recently merged with Banner Health, agrees that providing the utmost services and results for its patients is the hospitals’ top priority.

“Banner has a best-practice strategy that is very much in line with our passion for making a difference in people’s lives,” he says.

Boswell and Del E. Webb medical centers are now Banner Boswell and Banner Del E. Webb.

“By coming together with Banner we were able to bring some immediate technologies, such as electronic medical records, in addition to research institutes, which are such a major part of Banner Boswell and Banner Del E. Webb, to the West Valley,” Peterson says.

With the economy putting a freeze on growth for the most part, West Valley hospitals stand poised for continued expansion. All the while, they are not taking their eyes off their mission — to provide the residents of West Valley communities with first-class services administered by highly trained and compassionate health care providers.

Motivate Employees

Keeping Employees Motivated In A Troubled Economy Is Critical

The Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) figures that it can cost up to one-third of an employee’s annual salary to recruit and replace that employee. For the most part, it is to the employer’s advantage to retain and maintain their skilled work force in a tumultuous marketplace.

Uncertain times, family issues and unstable financial situations all compete with the workplace for balance. Couple that with the constant barrage of dismal employment news of company cutbacks, bailouts and failures, and understandably there’s not much motivation left for the workplace. Many people are wondering how secure their job really is and if they need to be on the lookout for the next opportunity.

How do you get your employees to step “up” and stay optimistic when it seems like so many things are falling apart around them? Here are a few quick steps to keep your employees engaged and positive.

Be honest and open
Communication is one of those things that you just can never get enough of — but it does take work. The worst thing you can do for morale is to paint a rosy picture one week, only to have the bottom drop out of their world the following week. No one likes workplace surprises, especially your employees. Regular and transparent communication is essential to maintaining your employees’ trust. Also, remember to let your team members know how much you appreciate them and their personal contributions to the company.

Partner with your workers
Let them be part of the solution. Good old-fashioned brainstorming and suggestion boxes are excellent ways for employers to engage and encourage their employees to use their expertise to help the company reduce costs and increase revenue. Remember to recognize those contributors whose ideas are implemented with either public praise and/or non-monetary perks, such as a certificate or a preferred parking space.

Build up your team
Creating a sense of community does wonders to build team morale. By encouraging positive working relationships through bonding, walls come down and individuals work together toward solutions. Staff development, lunchtime personal growth workshops, community service projects, or even a staff potluck lunch or get-together, are ways to promote team cohesiveness.

Reward creatively
Although a pay raise or some other cash award would be nice, it just may not be feasible for the company right now. But, that shouldn’t stop you from recognizing and rewarding hard work. A covered parking space in the dead of summer in Arizona or in the snowy winter in Ohio certainly is a major perk. A dress-down day when certain business goals are achieved would be welcomed. Even a handshake and “job well done” during a staff meeting can show appreciation without breaking the bank.

Help your employees create work-life balance
Work-life balance seems to be everyone’s hot button these days. Flexible schedules are one way of helping your employees realize it. Depending upon business needs and the employee’s position, flexible schedules can allow your employees to have the work-life balance they need. Telecommuting, job sharing, compact work weeks and flexible start times can be just the motivator the employee needed.

In moving forward, keeping employees motivated is truly a necessity in these uncertain times. Not only will your employees’ motivation be on target, but you’ll see positive results in your ROI as well.

Onboarding Employees

The Critical Process Of Onboarding Your New Employees

You’ve sorted through stacks of resumes, interviewed the best and selected the perfect candidate. Now what? Once you’ve made the job offer and it has been accepted, it is time to start thinking about your onboarding process.

Onboarding is the term used to describe the process of integrating a new employee into your organization, and there are three steps to consider.

Be prepared
It is very unpleasant for an employee to show up to a new job, excited about the possibilities, and end up with the feeling that she was not expected and the company is surprised to see her. Since that is not the kind of surprise you want for your newest “most valuable asset,” it is important to prepare in advance for her arrival. Take into consideration such factors as:

The workspace — Is it properly equipped? Is it cleaned up, with the remnants of the prior occupant removed? Include a small “welcome” gift.

Name badge — If your staff wears name badges, be sure your new hire has one on her first day of work.

Time — Be sure the new hire’s manager has taken the necessary time to make introductions with co-workers. Your new hire should not be treated like he is an inconvenience to a busy schedule.

Welcome
Many employees make the decision about whether they are going to stay at their new organization within the first week. Since we only have a short period of time to make a good and lasting first impression, take these important steps to make him feel welcome:

Be sure your front desk personnel are trained to welcome new hires in the same way they welcome your customers. The welcome should say, “We’ve been expecting you and are glad you are here!”

Give your new hire a tour upon arrival. Be sure to point out the restrooms, drinking fountain, coffee maker, vending machines and break room, in addition to her workspace, the copier, supply room and other important rooms in your building. Remember, you want to make a good impression, so team her up with someone who is a great spokesperson for your organization.

The road to success
You want to set your new hire up for success from the start, so consider the following when laying out the roadmap for her first several months onboard:

If you have a formal job description, make sure your new hire receives a copy of it on her first day of work. The manager, or a co-worker who is knowledgeable about the job, should review the job duties and clearly define what is expected for each task. Define “success” up front, so your new hire knows what will be expected of her.

If the manager for the new hire is often in meetings or off-site, assign another “go to” person for your new hire. Since new hires decide early on if they are going to “fit” at this organization, it is important they feel comfortable asking questions and seeking assistance when needed.

We all have things to learn when starting a new job. Be sure your new hire is trained on all aspects of his job, from the mundane to the complex. Depending on your environment, it may be best to wait until a couple of days after the start of the new job to train on more complex matters. Give enough information for your new hire to go home loving his new job on the first day, and not so much information that he wonders how he will ever remember it.

Onboarding is a six-month to one-year process depending on the complexity of the work you do. Check in often with your new hire to make sure she has received the training she needs, has the proper equipment to do her job, understands your corporate culture and has made a few friends with whom she feels comfortable.

Since you have made a significant investment in selecting and hiring your newest “asset,” you want to do everything possible to get them onboard and keep them onboard. An effective onboarding process will set everyone on the right track.

visual workspace

Office Designs Can Spark Employee Creativity

We have all seen, or at least heard about, “off-the-charts” office design that is not only cool, but also inspires its work force. Companies such as Google, Pixar, Herman Miller, Red Bull, and even one blogger in her vintage trailer, have been recognized for their creativity in the workplace. These companies have shown us that designing an office that is “cool” is about embracing your company culture and projecting a contagious attitude.

Your corporate culture says a lot about the way your office should look and function. What do you want to project? What are your core values? What kind of clients do you want to attract? Cool office design is more than a flat panel TV and retro furniture in your lobby. It’s your company’s essence — its physical presence. And we all know what they say about first impressions.

Creating spaces that keep employees engaged and that support the way they live, work and play will stimulate productivity and result in a much happier staff. This will naturally lead to higher client satisfaction and greater return on your investment. So, how do you get started?

Keep in mind a few simple starting points:
Involve everyone in the office in a brainstorming session. What are employees looking for from their workspace? How do they want it to feel and function? Is privacy important? What do your employees wish for in their environment? Choose a point of contact to champion these ideas with your interior designer.

Be flexible, because it is the key to planning a successful work environment. Allowing people to have choices and variety in the way they work and collaborate enhances the experience of the workplace.

Provide opportunities for impromptu meeting and spaces that allow workers to get away from the monotony of sitting at their desks all day.

A connection to nature is an important factor in productivity. People need to be able to see the blue sky, get fresh air and soak up the sun. Oftentimes, we see offices that block the view by installing opaque high panels and storage above eye level, creating depressing “cubicle farms.”

Don’t forget about public and common areas. There are endless opportunities to bring out your company’s brand, culture and differentiation. These spaces also offer a place to relieve stress and to get away from the daily grind.

Creating a cool office in hot Arizona is not as difficult (or as expensive) as it may seem. It all revolves around defining who you are and having fun with it. You’ll know that you’ve achieved “office nirvana” when your clients start asking to have their meetings in your office.

american flag, protest

Legal Arizona Workers Act Does Not Cause Expected Upheaval

In 2007, the state of Arizona made its first foray into “immigration reform” when it passed the Legal Arizona Workers Act. However, before the Legal Arizona Workers Act (LAWA) even became effective on Jan. 1, 2008, the Legislature went to work on amending the statute, presumably to “cure” some of the more controversial aspects of the law.

While the fundamental purpose and structure of LAWA has not changed, employers need to be aware of the current version of the law in order to limit the chances of being on the receiving end of an enforcement action. For example, the same legislation that tweaked LAWA also criminalized the act of knowingly accepting identity information from someone who is not actually the person represented in that identity information. Nevertheless, recent trends reported by a researcher from the University of Arizona suggest the enforcement tsunami that was expected to hit the business community is, up to now, little more than a ripple in a pond.

LAWA prohibits employers from “knowingly” or “intentionally” employing any unauthorized alien workers after 2007, and creates stiff penalties for employers who do. Penalties for first violations include mandatory probation for, and possible temporary suspension of, all business licenses issued by the state of Arizona. For a second violation during the probationary period, whether knowing or intentional, employers face permanent revocation of their state-issued licenses — thus effectively preventing the employer from doing business in Arizona. LAWA also requires every Arizona employer to verify new hire work eligibility through the federal government’s E-Verify system. However, LAWA created no “penalty” for failure to use E-Verify. So an employer who becomes the target of an enforcement action will likely be presumed to have “knowingly” hired an undocumented worker if that employer failed to use E-Verify. Evidently, most employers have decided either to roll the dice or they simply don’t recognize a risk. According to Department of Homeland Security data, as of late August 2008, only 5.6 percent of Arizona employers have enrolled in E-Verify.

Non-participation in E-Verify is not an option for contractors and subcontractors of any Arizona governmental entity. The LAWA amendments passed last year require those employers to participate in E-Verify as a condition of their government contract. In fact, any Arizona governmental entity (state or any political subdivision) would be prohibited from awarding a contract if the contractor or subcontractor does not comply with federal immigration laws and E-Verify requirements. LAWA requires government entities to ensure that their contractors comply with those requirements, and to include the following terms in their contracts:

  • Each contractor or subcontractor must warrant their compliance with LAWA’s provisions.
  • A breach of that warranty is to be deemed a material breach of the contract, subject to penalties up to, and including, termination of the contract.
  • The government entity retains the legal right to inspect the papers of the contractor and subcontractor employees who work on the contract in order to ensure compliance with the warranty.

Also, employers seeking to obtain an economic development incentive from a government entity must first register for and participate in E-Verify, and show proof of doing so. LAWA further requires the Attorney General’s office to, on a quarterly basis, request a list of Arizona employers registered with E-Verify from the Department of Homeland Security. The Attorney General must make that list available to the public on its Web site.

So far, enforcement actions against employers have been anemic at best. Judith Gans, manager of the Immigration Policy Program at the University of Arizona’s Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy, prepared a study on the preliminary impact of LAWA on immigration trends and businesses in Arizona. She found that not a single superior court enforcement action was filed during the first year of LAWA’s existence. The number of complaints filed with each county attorney during that period was one or none in nine out of Arizona’s 15 counties. The Pima County attorney reported only five complaints, four of which were declined because they involved individuals hired before 2008. The Maricopa County attorney’s office stated that it does not keep track of the number of reported complaints, and those that are filed reportedly are turned over to the county sheriff for investigation. Notwithstanding a number of high profile “raids” conducted by Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio in 2008, as reported in the local media at the time, no complaints have resulted in a LAWA enforcement action to date.

Finally, LAWA’s potentially adverse impact on Arizona’s economy has been negligible, or is simply undetectable. According to Gans’ study, the current recession has had a disproportionately adverse impact on business sectors that rely heavily on immigrant labor, such as construction. Therefore, because employment of all workers in those sectors, including immigrant labor, has been hard hit as a result of the current economic meltdown, any “LAWA-effect” has been masked.

Keep Workers Working

Ways To Keep Workers Working In A Troubled Economy

Our current job market is struggling through one of the worst periods of unemployment in memory. The unemployment rate continues to creep toward the unspeakable double digits, a number not reached in Arizona for more than 25 years. Whatever name is attached — downsizing, rightsizing, re-sizing, layoff, offboarding, reduction-in-force, restructuring — the result is the same: lost jobs in the name of economic turmoil that has no conscience.

Whether you are amazed at the statistics or whether you are one, there is no doubt you have watched the economy take a frightening toll on your workplace. Those who are fortunate enough to still earn a paycheck have had to watch their co-workers walked out in myriad reduction-in-force actions that have dominated news media from California to Florida. Few companies have been spared in their attempts to balance their books by slashing one of the most expensive items on their check register — payroll costs. It’s an ugly story that plays out in all corners, and there is little confidence that the worst of the cutbacks is behind us.

Local public job assistance resources have been overwhelmed. According to Patrick Burkhart, assistant director at Maricopa Workforce Connections, the no-charge centers have approached capacity in their attempts to provide local job seekers with a head start on hunting for new positions. The MWC has experienced a 100 percent increase in year-over-year traffic in its centers, which currently assist up to 500 job seekers per day in each of the two “one stop” centers. While laid-off workers range from the highly skilled to laborers, preparing them for their next opportunity is often an exercise in futility. With so few available positions, and no job growth predicted for 2009, it becomes a cruel parody of “all dressed up and no place to go.”

Corporate executives cannot be blamed for adding to this unemployment quagmire. Their directive is to ensure financial survival through any legitimate means available. For most, that means a consideration of reducing work force costs, which may include not only wages, but also significant associated costs of health and welfare benefits, matching 401(k) contributions, profit sharing, tuition reimbursement, training or other company-provided benefits or perks. There is also an indirect impact on the company; a deterioration of employee loyalty, decreased customer confidence, and perhaps most importantly, a sense of apprehension among employees in fearing a loss of their own jobs. The result may have an effect on employee productivity and in retaining and attracting the best and brightest talent for the future.

It is no wonder then that reducing headcount is considered a last resort among decision makers. But what should companies do to prevent having to announce the dreaded “L” word, as 60 percent of surveyed U.S. companies plan to do in 2009, and thereby disrupt internal work operations for perhaps the long term? Executives first need to create a realistic vision of the direction of their business, attempt to recognize the timing of the “bottom” for their industry, and then set a plan in place to preserve a profit margin that will sustain the business. This analysis has become the key leadership initiative that guides decision making, and may ultimately affect the survival of the company.

It is said that desperate times call for desperate measures. If so, companies are often cornered into making tough sacrifices in the name of survival. Human resources can play an integral role in the strategic analysis of the business plan, and while cost reductions must be considered to save jobs, there may also be time for process improvement opportunities.

Among budget initiatives to be considered:
Freeze unnecessary discretionary spending — Travel for other than customer visits, employee “business” lunches, social events, overtime, temporary help, consultants, new software, advertising, and conferences or training that are not critical can be curtailed.

Wage considerations — In addition to a bonus and wage freeze, consider a salary reduction, perhaps only for those earning above a targeted salary. Depending on work requirements, consider a reduced workweek in exchange for the wage reduction, or have a temporary company shutdown. Suspend any policy that allows employees to cash-in vacation or paid time off (PTO) accruals, and instead mandate they use the time.

Company contributions to employee programs — For companies that need to make a more serious dent in expenditures, cutbacks may be made in the health care plan design, tuition reimbursement, 401(k) match, or company paid life insurance or disability plans.

Don’t expect employees to express appreciation for these types of actions, but every wage earner in today’s work force understands the reality of a balance sheet and its affect on his or her job. While employees usually bear the brunt of company cutbacks, there are actions HR can propose that might soften the impact.

Cross training and skill enhancement — A business slowdown is an excellent time to prepare employees to assume additional job skills for the future through on-the-job cross training.

Solicit employee input — Using employees to provide savings suggestions will enhance their buy-in and may even improve morale. Above all else, they want to keep their jobs and when viewed as a partnership with the company, will help foster mutual respect.

Job transfer — Either as an assignment of temporary resources or a long-term solution to unbalanced workloads, employees may be interested in moving to a new function with a different career path.

Communicate — Employees may be more understanding of the company’s plight if they are able to share the news along the way with no surprises.

Today, we still find ourselves in the middle of a sluggish economy that has turned into a marathon, but the finish line must be somewhere down the road. Leaders who can see that far will make the right strategic decisions in the best interest of their organization and its employees. Those who consistently communicate that vision, and take action to save jobs wherever possible, will find a loyal work force ready and willing to enjoy better times ahead.

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Creating More Efficient Workspaces Can Increase Productivity And Reduce Costs

Bracing for austere times ahead, office leaders have two obvious places to cut back: payroll and real estate. No one would suggest that cutting staff is an easy or enjoyable thing to do, but it can be an opportunity. Space freed by reductions in payroll can be reorganized to improve workplaces, bolster worker morale and raise productivity.

Even before the recent financial crisis took hold, Gensler’s research found that 36 percent of U.S. office space is considered by the workers using it to be ineffective. This is in large measure because the nature of work is changing. Formerly the domain of so-called creative industries, collaborative meetings and group work scenarios have assumed priority over individual focus time.

Reducing office space as a cost-cutting strategy can actually create inefficiencies if you simply shrink space and continue with the same workplace model. Gensler’s recent workplace survey found that firms that provide appropriate workplaces for the type of business conducted have higher levels of employee engagement, brand equity and profit, with profit growth up to 14 percentage points greater than those with less effective work environments.

If layoffs have left you with too much space for too few people, look into whether you can unload space through subletting or simply returning it to the landlord. There can be a real negative psychological impact among employees who always are aware that there’s an empty desk next to them. At the same time, a little more breathing room can boost spirits and productivity.

Before making any plans, take a look around the office and really understand how space is being used. Observe how people are working in the office, how areas are really utilized. What’s empty? What’s overcrowded? Where have people been doing workarounds to make space effective? Look for wear patterns, improvised equipment and furnishings, over-flowing desks, unused conference rooms, etc.

When you’re ready to take action, consider these possibilities:
Make sure you’re getting the most out of your space by converting as many spaces as possible from single-use spaces into multipurpose spaces. A reception area can double as a client area, employee café, community space and optional work area. This approach will require furniture that supports multiple uses.

Wireless capability makes your office one big workspace. Anyone can go to any corner of the workplace to huddle in groups or get away from everyone for some solitary focus time.

By strategically locating amenities, you can increase the opportunities for incidental, as well as intentional, collaboration among staff members.

Branding the workplace nurtures corporate culture and improves a sense of teamwork and pride in the work produced. Color, art, graphic images and printed messages used in strategic locations can be powerful.

Improve visual connectivity among colleagues to promote collaboration and social interaction. This can be achieved in several ways: employ an open office plan, install low-panel workstations and reduce the number of closed offices.

Create space by increasing density and clustering meeting rooms. Create collaborative social zones in the space outside of those areas. This energizes public areas while reducing space taken up by circulation paths.

Place workstations and open collaborative spaces along window areas, and put offices inboard to bring light deeper into the space. Natural light in workspaces raises productivity and reduces energy costs.

Accommodate telecommuting when appropriate. You can save on real estate, energy costs and demonstrate an interest in your employees’ work-life balance. With mobile workers, be sure you have space in the office that gives them easy access to the tools they require and the people they need to connect with.

Perhaps before going all in, make small changes and monitor the results. It is important to assess your workplace layout before making any changes and to evaluate the results after implementation. Observation and surveys are effective ways to validate what’s working. Once your workplace environment changes are complete and have been occupied for a few months, verify that your design is advancing workplace goals. Consider evaluating your space every two to three years to help keep your workplace effective.

Ask where you’ve captured real estate efficiencies. Have you been able to get double and even triple use out of some spaces? Is every part of your office space being deployed in the service of supporting work activities? Are your employees more connected, informed, collaborative and productive? Ultimately, your new design should deliver improved business performance.

Creating a more efficient, collaborative and accommodating workplace is something that pays dividends even in financially distressed times. A proud organization with employees who enjoy going to work and who feel the company cares about them will work harder and more effectively no matter the state of the economy.