button Vol. 9
No. 1

line INSIDE line

State Of The Unions: Changes & Tactics
line Recruitment Concerns: Crucial Changes Evolving
line Retention: The Flip Side of Recruiting
line Terminating Employees:
Ten Tips On Firing

line Employer Briefs

Braun Consulting News
News on Personnel, Labor Relations and Benefits

See our Archive Pages for Back Issues of Braun Consulting News!

Top Employer Briefs

Checkmark Graphic More Bathroom Break Battles

The issue of bathroom breaks and disruption to plant operations
just doesn't seem to go away.

Back in 2003 we addressed a situation concerning bathroom breaks in our article
Bathroom Break Battle at Distiller Jim Beam, and here we go again, only this time the bathroom break controversy concerns Ford Motor Company.

It seems that Ford Motor is making an issue about bathroom breaks in one of their plants and the United Auto Workers union Local 900 is claiming foul play.

Management at Ford's truck plant in Wayne, Michigan issued a memo in which it said too many of the factory's 3,500 hourly workers are spending more than the 48 minutes allotted per shift to use the bathroom.

Production of the Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator sport utility vehicles was apparently being affected by the extra long bathroom breaks that have been taken by some employees, according to the company.

The memo noted that, "In today's competitive environment, it is important that Michigan Truck plant immediately address this concern to avoid the risks associated with safety, quality, delivery, cost and morale".

In response to this situation Ford supervisors are expected to collect weekly data on the amount of time workers spend on bathroom breaks and "respond appropriately."

Workers interviewed by the Detroit News said that management is trying to divert attention from broader problems, including soft sales of the large SUV's made at the plant following huge increases of gasoline prices.

Admitting that it might be an issue "in one zone or another" Jody Caruana, a worker at the plant and a committee member for UAW Local 900, told the Detroit News that, "This might be an issue in one zone or another. But is this causing a quality or productivity problem? No. It's an excuse by upper management to gloss over some of the real problems we have out here".

The 48-minute bathroom break limit is spelled out in the UAW contract that covers local plant rules according to Ford spokeswoman Anne Marie Gattari.

It is interesting how situations involving simple procedures like this can balloon up into a bigger problem and take on a life of its own. The most mundane of activities can trigger problems in the workplace that cause friction and dissension, and ultimately work their way out into the press and the world at large.

It makes one wonder if these problems are experienced in other countries like Japan, Korea, or Germany, or if it is a phenomena limited to the United States. We have not seen the phenomenon elsewhere but if you do send us a note.

Click here for Top

Checkmark Graphic Add Blogging To Time Wasting Internet Activities

We can now add reading online "Blogs" to the growing list of non work-related Internet activities being engaged in by employees.

Dictionary.com defines "blog" as: "an online diary; a personal chronological log of thoughts published on a Web page; also called Weblog, typically updated daily, blogs often reflect the personality of the author".

According to analysis by Advertising Age about one in four workers average 3.5 hours a week reading online blogs that are not work-related. It has been estimated that U.S. employees this year may waste "the equivalent of 551,000 years reading blogs" that have nothing to do with their jobs.

Most companies, estimated at nearly 70% by public relations firm Edelman and Intelliseek, have no policies or guidelines for employee bloggers.

As with other uncontrolled Internet activity by employees there is a growing concern for liability issues. In fact there have been some instances related to high-profile firings where blogs have hurt the reputations of some companies such as Google Inc., Delta Air Lines, Waterstone's and Friendster.

On the other hand IBM is giving employees "blogging tools" and views blogs as a way to forge new relationships with business partners, as well as market new products.

The drain on productivity by these activities is hard to measure, and there may be some positive benefits that offset the lost time employees spend online, but these areas are newly developing and will only play out over time.

Among the other Internet activities we have covered here at Braun Consulting News over the years are personal e-mailing, web surfing, instant messaging, bulletin boards, chat rooms, e-mail fraud, Internet phones, and spamming.

Here is a list of previous Braun Consulting News articles about Internet related issues:

Companies Blocking Web sites
Internet Usage By Disgruntled Employees
Be Careful Not To Hit The Send Button By Mistake
Web Surfing At Work: New Workplace Reality
Instant Messaging: Wading Into Uncharted Territory
Internet E-mail Usage Update
Useful Internet Terms
E-mail Policies Can Lead To Legal Quagmire
E-mail - the 'Wild Wild West' of Today's Workplace
E-mail Policy - A Fact Of Life!
Internet Code of Conduct - Model Policy

Click here for Top

Checkmark Graphic Onshoring: An Alternative To Offshoring

Onshoring is particularly attractive to companies that have brands tied to the U.S., according to Peter Balnaves, senior manager in the Los Angeles office of Boston Consulting Group.

"These companies are willing to forgo the cost savings because they fear the political exposure associated with offshoring," he says.

Large employers in expensive cities like New York and San Francisco have been moving call centers to rural America for years, but now many are considering moving more work there, analysts say.

More large companies are considering a range of options because offshoring is such a complex process, says Frances Karamouzis, research director at Gartner. Outsourcing labor to towns in rural parts of the country is particularly attractive given that many state governments are giving tax breaks to employers who move jobs there, she says.

"If a company is just looking for low costs, there are many alternatives offshore," Kathy White of Rural Sourcing says. "But if you take into consideration the total cost of working with different languages, cultures and time zones, this is another option." Rural Sourcing's rates range from $38 to $48 per hour, compared with $18 to $30 per hour for companies in India.

(Excerpts from Workforce Management.)

To read more about Offshore outsourcing check out our past articles HR Outsourcing Trends and Offshore Outsourcing: Impact on the American Workplace.

Click here for Top

Checkmark Graphic Employee Crime And Identity Theft Update

Back in our Winter 2003 issue of Braun Consulting News we published an article titled
Identity Theft: Facts, Prevention, and Response in which we outlined some facts, prevention techniques and response methods to the growing problem of identity theft.

Now, of course, identity theft is all over the news and has everyone scrambling to avoid or prevent this situation from occurring.

The 2006 SHRM Tri-State Conference in Sturbridge, MA was another case where this hot topic was being addressed.

At this conference Gil Fried, an Associate Professor at the University of New Haven said that approximately 7 million people were victims of identity theft in 2003, with $92,000 being the average amount stolen from each person.

He noted that 13 percent of the people stealing identities are employees who stole personal information from other employees at work.

Fried advised employers to buy a paper shredder. He indicated that 68 percent of the identity theft crimes are based on personal information stolen off paper sources, rather than from computers.

Fried also pointed out that businesses face costs of $400 billion each year from employee crime. This equals $9 per day for every worker in this country; with companies who have less than 100 employees being the victims of far more employee crime than larger companies.

Fried offered a few "defensive strategies" to prevent employee crime in the workplace:

  • Don't include any personal information about employees on their paychecks - particularly their social security numbers. We suggest using only the last 4 or the first 3 digits since sometimes this is needed to cash a check.
  • Destroy (i.e. shred) any documents with personal information about employees, rather than throwing them out.
  • Identify trigger points in your employees - personal crises, drug or alcohol addictions, extreme anger, employees living beyond their financial means, or terminations. These employees have the greatest temptation to steal identities.
  • Let your employees know they are being monitored - they are less likely to commit a crime.
  • Try to avoid rapid turnover.
  • Conduct background checks on all prospective employees.
  • Make sure you keep track of which employees are taking work home with them. Be doubly careful if it is sensitive work - don't be embarrassed like the VA.

(Excerpts from Business & Legal Reports, Inc.)

Click here for Top

Checkmark Graphic Ten Year Anniversary Of Braun Consulting News Letters

This issue marks the 10-year anniversary of our first Braun Consulting News Newsletter published online.

Though our newsletter had been published for several years before 1996, the first online issue appeared in the Summer of 1996.

Among our first articles then were the following:

We have been making information of interest to employers online now for 10 years and have received tens of thousands of visits from readers around the world.

We hope you enjoy our newsletter and have signed up to our e-mail list to have these newsletters delivered directly to your e-mail box as they become available.

If you haven't signed up to our e-mail list yet you can do so here.

Thanks for your support of Braun Consulting Group, and if you have any feedback you would like to provide regarding our newsletters or any questions about how we may help your organization or business please contact us on our contact page.

Click here for Top

Back to Braun Home Page Next Page

The Contents of this News Letter are intended for general information
and should not be construed as legal advise or opinion.
Click Here to view our Web Site Disclaimer Page.

button * INSIDE   * HOME  * ARCHIVES
Braun Consulting Group
* Insurance * Labor * Personnel

1326 5th Ave, Suite 339 / Seattle, WA 98101
Contact Braun Consulting Group

Site by - AJ Consulting / © 2006 Braun Consulting Group