Corra Daily Planet » 2006 » June

Fourth of July and Four Days Off, for Some Workers

Thu, June 29th, 2006 - 11:24 am - By Gordon Basichis

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We found this article on

June 28, 2006, 11:34PM
Many workers rejoice at four-day weekend

WITH Independence Day falling on Tuesday this year, companies are wrestling with that pesky midweek holiday dilemma.

Should they force employees to come in to work on Monday when everyone else is at the pool? Or be a hero and give them an extra day off so they get an unexpected four-day weekend?

Dave Ferdman opted for the hero route.

The president and chief executive of CyrusOne, provider of off-site data center services, realized about a week ago that the Fourth fell on a Tuesday.

Ferdman, who has about about 50 employees, made a snap decision to proclaim it as an extra day off for all nonoperational employees. For those who earlier planned to take Monday off as a vacation day, they’ll get credit in their time-off bank of days.

“It’s great for morale,” said Ferdman, who said he’s received a surprising number of e-mails from employees who said they were thrilled with the news.

He also figures they’ll be more productive in the long run by spending the day with their families or friends rather than having to wedge a day of work in between the weekend and Independence Day. And employees aren’t the only ones who are looking forward to an extra day off. Ferdman is planning to spend Monday with his wife and three young children visiting friends in Conroe or Galveston — or maybe both.

Administaff employees greeted the news that they’d be getting Monday off with cheering and a standing ovation for Chairman and CEO Paul Sarvadi.

Monday holidays

The company typically gives an extra day off either during the week of Christmas or New Year’s, but since those holidays fall on Monday this year, the day before Independence Day was a good alternative, said Steve Arizpe, executive vice president of client services and chief operating officer.It also helped that many of the company’s clients were also taking the day off.

Locke Liddell & Sapp also decided to give its employees a long weekend when it became clear many of its clients wouldn’t be at the office either. And then there was the relaxation factor.

“We felt that because those with the firm work so sedulously, this could be an ideal respite period,” said Jeff Love, vice chairman of the management committee and managing director of the Houston office.

But for those clients who will still be slogging away at the office, the firm has made arrangements.

To take the sting out of working when everyone else isn’t, Locke Liddell will pay its nonexempt employees double time.

Advance planning

Many companies, especially smaller ones, made the decision to close Monday in the last couple of weeks after someone looked at the calendar.Dynegy, however, has had the day off planned since late last year.

We always find it gratifying when employers acknowledge there is after all a human side to life and cut their employees a well needed break. We are, beyond a doubt, the hardest working country in the world, and that extra day off for the July Fourth Holiday weekend means so much in planning trips.
Smarter employers know that there is never much to be gained by trying to wring that last bit of effort from their employees, especially when insisting they work the interim day of a major holiday weekend will only cause unrest and frustration. The end result is that very little gets accomplished anyway since most workers have their minds on getaways and barbecues and firework displays.

So we salute those employers who know enough to know the difference and who subsequently make a difference by making the holiday a whole lot brighter. And needless to say, when they do come back to work and if you do need to hire more employees always spend a few bucks on a background check and Check Them Out Before They Hire.

Happy Fourth of July to one and all!

An Employer’s Boogeyman is Hiding Under the Bed

Wed, June 28th, 2006 - 4:37 pm - By Gordon Basichis

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We found this article on the Jacksonville, Florida NBC Affiliate, WTLV Channel 12 First Coast News. One of those human sideshow mini-spectaculars that if it wasn’t true no one would believe you if you made it up.

Stalker Hides Under Woman’s Bed for Two Days

Reported by Jane Watrel, NBC

WASHINGTON D.C. — A stalker hid under a woman’s bed for two days — just for the chance to be alone with her. How he got the keys to her house is the scariest part, and it’s a serious reminder of the need to be cautious before handing over your keys.

The disturbing video shows the convicted stalker carefully hiding his video camera on a desk in the victim’s bedroom. When he hears the woman and her boyfriend come in the apartment, he disappears under her bed. Carlo Castellanos-Feria remained there for two days until he was discovered by the victim’s boyfriend.

“In a lot of ways, [it’s the] stuff of an urban nightmare,” said Ken Wainstein, U.S. Attorney.

The nightmare started at Holy Cross Hospital where the victim met her stalker who was working as a parking valet. In court, the victim told the judge that the discovery of the valet in her bedroom was in her words — a horrible experience.

“Her life is dramatically changed. She is fearful when she hears strange noises she doesn’t know where they are coming from. Her husband, who was her boyfriend at the time of the incident, now has to be careful not to approach her from behind because it just startles her,” said Keri Barta, prosecutor.

Moments before he was sentenced, Castellanos-Feria apologized:

“I fell madly in love and that blinded my judgment. I beg your forgiveness.”

Judge Herbert Dixon handed down a three-year sentence, including treatment for mental illness and sex crimes. Court documents show the Hyattsville man had a change of clothes, condoms, a power cord and latex gloves with him under victims bed at the time of his arrest. He was a parking valet with an unnerving obsession.

“He got access to her keys. He then took that opportunity to get those keys copied. That’s something we should all think about next time we leave our keys somewhere,” said Ken Wainstein, U.S. attorney.

When investigators searched Carlo Castellanos-Feria’s home, they found vacation photos of his victim and a wedding video. Investigators later determined the items were stolen from her ex-husband’s home.

To call this story bizzarre is an understatement. However, it is living proof that these kind of incidents actually do take place in our less than perfect world and we should always be doing our best to protecct ourselves against them. Perhaps at the end of the day nothing says there is no better reason to perform a preemployment background check than a crazy story like this.

On one hand it is pretty funny, although I’m sure it was anything but to the poor woman who unwittingly hosted this man underneath her bed for a couple of days. There are certain questions about his personal maintenance under her bed, but propriety forbids that we ask.

Think insead of the liability factors that may well  befall Holy Cross Hospital, the possible claims against that institution, and the obvious embarrassment. The former valet was convicted of criminal transgressions and now the civil litigation against Holy Cross is almost sure to come. Perhaps in its defense, the hospital can claim they ran a background check on Carlos Castellenos-Feria and there were no criminal records or reports indicating deviant behavior. Perhaps the hospital failed to run a background check and that’s where they become much more vulnerable to the liability issues. In any event, the whole affair is damaging to the image of what is otherwise a reputable hospital.
It is always wise to protect yourself. A few bucks up front for an employee screening can save you millions in the back end. So use this story as a lesson in human resources. Check them out before you hire.

Pipe Me Aboard, People Working On Your Way to Work

Fri, June 23rd, 2006 - 1:31 pm - By Gordon Basichis

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We saw this article in Media Post Publications and thought the first part of it was a nice relief, like the Peruvian Pipes.
The Consumer: Becomes the Entertainment

Maybe it’s just me, but lately the New York City subways seem overrun with Peruvian panpipe players. Now, it could be that the stations I use just happen to attract performers of that particular genre. Still, almost without exception, when I’m walking to or from the 6 train, I’m greeted by the gentle harmonies of Abba in woodwind. There’s obviously money in it. Some of the performers have full electric bands. Many of them sell professionally recorded CDs, even tempting passersby with dancers who showcase the goods. So people must like it. Which, I suppose, shouldn’t be too surprising, for the simple reason that subway travel is monotonous, and we all welcome any escape from monotony.

There’s nothing new in that. We’ve long sought relief from the extended tedium of commuting by paying street performers who make us smile or by tuning into drive-time radio. But what’s new, at least for the large segment of the population who don’t enjoy reading, is the constant accessibility of multimedia entertainment, which means that it can help abate boredom in new places  work, for example.

We have been in New York on different occasions and also experienced anywhere from a sole player to an entire band playing pipes guitars, drums and tambourines. As the author claims, it is a nice respite from the drudgery of subway travel and all that you face when you reach your destination and go off the work.

We remembered descending into one subway stop and finding a pair of identical twins, playing Peruvian music. One played guitar and the other the pipes, and since they were good looking gentlemen with long, dark shoulder length hair they attracted their fair share of women. Clearly, they were enjoying themselves, and just as clearly, as evidenced by their guitar case laden with bills and silver, they were making money.

So in a sense, these subway troubadours and working to entertain our work force, or at least those who use subways and other forms of transportation. Whether these troubadours are legal or illegal immigrants is a concern for somoene else, since they do help us relax on our journey to work. Perhaps, in addition to the Pervian musicians we can use a few Irish bands, playing Celtic music, and samplings of other music from other parts of the world.

We doubt seriously if these people will ever need background checks since technically they are among the self-employed. But if you are fotunate enough to be in a place where your workday begins with the lyrical sounds of Peruvian Pipes, consider yourself lucky. It will brighten up your day.

Employee Theft: Sometimes It’s Your Most Trusted Workers

Thu, June 22nd, 2006 - 3:03 pm - By Gordon Basichis

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We saw this article in the Los Angeles Times and thought if ever there was a universal pain point, this is sure it.

Few Workers Admit to Office Supply Theft

Only 1 in 5 U.S. workers admits to stealing items, but a survey’s authors say the true rate is higher.

By Molly Selvin
Times Staff Writer

June 22, 2006

If you’re like most workers, you’ve probably taken pens, file folders, paper or other company supplies for your personal use.

But chances are, you don’t think that amounts to theft. You’re not alone.

A survey released Wednesday showed that 1 in 5 U.S. workers admitted to stealing company office supplies in the last year. But even the survey’s authors acknowledged that the true rate of pilfering was much higher.

Some employees, workplace experts say, won’t cop to stealing because they don’t think what they are doing is theft. Others simply think that theft is justified, and they see their bosses doing it all the time.

A worker who grabs a ream of paper to print an office report on his home computer doesn’t think he is stealing, said Brent Short, managing director of Spherion Corp., a Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based staffing firm that commissioned the survey of 1,600 employees nationwide. Eighteen percent admitted to stealing.

An employee who takes a can of coffee from the office kitchen might justify it on productivity grounds.

“He figures, ‘I don’t have time to pick up coffee but I won’t be any good tomorrow at work if I don’t have it,’ ” Short said.

Some employees consider office supplies a fringe benefit of the job, said John Case, a Del Mar, Calif., security consultant.

Other workers are following their bosses’ lead, said Karla Kretzschmer, a Michigan-based human resources consultant.

“When leaders use company cars for personal errands or get the office tech staff to set up their home computer, it’s no longer as black-and-white,” she said.

The problem is more pervasive among workers between the ages of 18 and 29, according to the survey. Nearly a quarter of those younger employees admitted raiding the supply cabinet, compared with 13% of workers 50 and over.

Mark Mehler, co-founder of CareerXroads, a New Jersey-based consulting firm, believes that younger workers are just more willing to admit to pilfering.

But Paul Harrington, who teaches economics at Northeastern University, contends that “kids working at low wages don’t have much at stake if they get caught stealing. They’ll just move to another job.”

What do employees take?

“Anything that’s not bolted down,” said Short, who has observed seasonal patterns to office theft. “Around the holidays every tape dispenser in the office disappears because people are wrapping presents.”

And in a couple of months, pens and pencils will fly off the shelves as parents restock their children’s school backpacks.

A friend our ours who has been a key executive in the apparel industry for more than a couple of decades told us that a signicant percentage of your work force is stealing on a regular basis. There is also a percentage when made aware of the unchecked pilgerage will start to resent the employer for not taking appropriate actions. be aware of the stealing but would not steal themselves. This percentage, when aware of unchecked pilgerage will start to resent the employers for not taking action. Others, who normally wouldn’t steal may even begin to follow suit. In all, pilferage can affect the morale and self-esteem of your honest workers.
The thing is if were only the pencils and tape they were stealing, you may be well ahead of the game. Sure, these items are costly, but more than a few computers have been smuggled out the door, over the years. If your business is one of tangible goods, like the fashion industry, most certainly your inventory is vulnerable to theft. You may not know it, but you could have a partner or two who sells your goods at the local Swamp Meet, or off a truck.
Not only are hard goods being stolen, but so is all sorts of proprietary information, from your customers lists to the specs on the new whatever is you have spent years and millions in research and development. Let’s face it, there are more than a few unscrupulous companies out in this world who realize that stealing developing technology and proprietary informaiton is a lot cheaper than develping it yourself. For these unscrupulous companies, They realize it is a lot easier to steal your new technology or proprietary information that it is to conduct their own research and development. Research and development can cost millions and take years to complete. Stealing is fast and highly cost effective. it’s just a matter of getting in touch with the wrong guy in right place.
The article attests that maybe one in five adults admit to stealing office supplies. This is just pens and scotch tape we are talking about. You can only imagine the secrecy involved in moving expensive electronics or large quantities of inventory out your back door. Sometimes it is an individual, and sometimes it is an entire ring of thieves. More often that you would imagine, the ring is organized by one of your more trusted employees.
All theft is bad. Theft of electronics and inventory is worse. Someone stealing your intellectual property or propretary informaiton can prove disasterous. Not only does such theft threaten to deep six your entire business Employee theft is statistically the major cause of businesses going under.
With theft you can lose thousands of dollars in supplies. But you can also lose inventory, proprietary and intellectual property and see your insurance premiums increase to very unconfortable levels. And then, if you are lucky enough to catch the thieves, you may have to fire, rehire, retrain until you are burdened with a never ending cycle.
Considering the potential losses, it is small wonder we urge people to conduct background checks on everyone in their workforce. You not only avoid costly theft, but the liabilities concerning work place violence and sexual harrassment, substance abuse, can prove almost insurmountable. Your HR people can conduct a fairly thorough employee screening for anywhere from $30 to $100. That’s pretty cheap price for the advantage of knowing what you are brining into your work force. It just makes sense.
Go to our website and check out some of the statistics we have posted for you. Think about what you would be gaining by conducting a background check. Think about what you have been missing, like inventory and office supplies, if you don’t.
And then Check Them Out Before You Hire.

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