Showing posts from January, 2011

Better Unemployment Numbers for Nashville

This morning the Tennessean announced that the jobless rate in Nashville had dropped from 9.3% a year ago to 8.1% last month. That sounds good... actually that is good. But what exactly does that mean? The Chamber of Commerce lists the adult workforce in Nashville at 787,389. Allowing for those commuting in from outside Nashville and undocumented/uncounted workers, let's just say that the total adult workforce in 850,000. Remember too that at any one time about 4% of the workforce is in transition; just moved here for their spouse's job, just had a baby and out of the workforce for awhile, just graduated and looking for that first job, etc... Historically Nashville's unemployment rate, even in boom times, is 4.5%. So the real unemployment rate, that percentage of people who want a job and can't get one, is the difference between 8.1% and 4.5%, or about 30,000 people. That's still a large number but in a community of over a million people, its 3% of the pop

Weather As Drama

This morning WSMV in Nashville, usually my favorite local station, reached a new low in weather reporting. With a light snow falling amidst rising temperatures and substantially clear roads, the warnings and imagery would have you thinking Donner Party. Our parking lot is almost empty, and much of that due to Metro Schools lack of courage in closing yet again when it didn't have to. Other absenteeism can be traced to folks looking at their televisions and not out their windows. There were two accidents, count them, in Metro Nashville that required emergency workers. The footage of one of those accidents played continuously throughout the morning weather coverage. Some young cub reporter was dispatched to Clarksville showing footage of a slushy street with cars moving at nearly full speed. His comment? That it was surprising how fast traffic was moving given the dangerous conditions. He also pointed to Wilma Rudolph Blvd. where "last week over 200 wrecks were reported."

The Inevitable Younger Boss

Unless you get to be CEO, at some point in your career you'll work for somebody younger. When that happens it stings for a lot of reasons. It is an unpleasant right of passage like the loss of an older friend or grandparent. It tells you where you are in your career unless you do something drastic to shake things up. What it tells you about your career status may hold true even if you do shake things up. Organizations, as much as they may try to adopt egalitarian language, are pyramids. There are fewer positions the higher up you go. Along the way you reach a point past which you won't rise higher. You know that in your intellectual mind just like your know your own mortality. You just don't want it brought front of mind like when one supervisor moves on or retires and the next one is younger than you. This can happen for several reasons. You can be a professional in a skill that supports, but is not at the core of, your employer. I'm an HR professional in

The Fool's Errand

Our daughter works in HR for a local state-supported non-profit. They absolutely, positively prohibit employee use of social media at work. Don't do it, don't think about it, don't even think about thinking about it. This means she violates organizational policy whenever she updates their Facebook page or posts job openings on Craigslist. You can't make this stuff up... Now before you think I'm picking on one organization I would submit that there are a lot of old school traditionalists that are still of the mindset that social media use at work can be banned. The State of Tennessee where two of my relatives work has blocked eBay at the firewall. Many others have blocked Facebook. What all of these types of organizations fail to recognize is that a game changer has arrived. Mobile Social Media. Here's why this changes everything. According to Research in Motion approximately 50 million people use mobile social media applications, most notably Twit

What It Takes to Get to Work

Please don't mistake this for a rant because it absolutely isn't. I have a bias for coming to work and I always, always do unless I'm so sick that I can't get out of bed. I have missed work because of road conditions a total of two days in the nearly 30 years that I've been working for companies. This doesn't mean as much as it used to; technology has changed the nature of work to the point that much of it can be done from anywhere. Missing a day here or there while working from home, especially if schools are closed and you are watching kids is sometimes the better part of valor. But what if your work won't allow that? What if you have to work in order to get paid and pay your bills? I find that a lot of younger workers don't understand what that takes. Here are some things I've learned and where my "I always go to work" comes from. I grew up in a rural community of 1,200 where almost every man did one of two things; worked on t


On Friday I had commented to a couple of executives that one of the goals in any employee communication is to incite the best thoughts and instincts in people. It is a fundamental HR competency that you craft any message to avoid inadvertently starting conversations that you don't intend to happen on subjects that divide people. Some examples that come to mind are one Plant Manager who tried to explain, poorly, to a group of factory workers that they were receiving market pay for their isolated area in Kentucky but said, "You're getting paid what you're worth." The anger over someone from outside that small town telling people that they weren't worth much never subsided until that Manager was replaced. Another EVP was trying to brag on an assembly line group whose product went into a very expensive Toyota SUV. In the mid 1990's that vehicle sold for $40,000 and this group made about $6.50/hr. He said, "I bought one and recommend that you do too.