Tag Archives: government

Congressional Wellness Caucus Recently Formed to Improve Employee Health Care

Originally formed by U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar and U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen from Minnesota, the new congressional caucus seeks to investigate and share ways that companies can support the health and wellness of their employees.  

The Minnesota politicians said they will chair the Congressional Wellness Caucus with Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Rep. Ron Kind (D-Wis.). Klobuchar is a Democrat and Paulsen a Republican.  

“By supporting proactive and preventative care, we can help curb health care costs and improve the lives of employees,” Paulsen said.  

According to the Minnesota Department of Health, employers with workplace wellness programs have a 25% reduction or more in sick leave, health plan costs, workers compensation, and disability costs.  

From the Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal, earlier this year, each formed caucuses to help the medical device industry, which has a large presence in Minnesota, repeal a $20 billion tax that goes into effect in 2013 to help pay for President Obama’s health care reform.  

Read the Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal article

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A Cash Rewards Program for Commuting Employees

In Washington D.C., a new Live Near Your Work incentive program is launching to for metro area employees. Similar to telecommuting or flexible hours, this incentive program is meant to assist workers who face really long commutes to the office every day.  

The Office of Planning, a D.C.-based agency that develops plans for city development and neighborhood revitalization, is launching a pilot program that will match employer contributions of up to $6,000 to convince employees to move closer to their work or public transit.  

With gas prices going up, the Live Near Your Work program (which is also available in Maryland and Delaware right now) has the ultimate goal of cutting commuting costs and time as well as reengaging employees in the workplace, reducing stress and burnout.  

“This program may not be in the best interest of the business,” Kathy Sharo, Runzheimer International (an employee mobility service firm) says. “With today’s mobile and video technology, a physical office and the associated cost is no longer a necessity.”  

“In addition, companies can place employees closer to customer locations, instead of closer to the employee’s local business office, to improve service while keeping them fully connected to corporate.”

  

Read the Human Resource Executive article

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Recruiting Challenges Have Hit the Public Sector

Government jobs have hit a rough time following the economic downturn as well. Once sought after for solid job security and exceptional health benefits, government jobs are seeing major pay freezes and layoffs in the recent time.  

With this uncertainty of pay and benefits, it is becoming difficult to recruit new employees in government jobs. For instance, according to the New York Times this year, the City of Detroit has had to cut their pension programs for city police sergeants and lieutenants. In California, the polls are showing that the voters are pushing for cuts to retirement benefits for state government employees.  

Tapping into Idealism One approach would be to highlight the attractiveness of doing work that matters. Retirements benefits are not as high a priority for the young workforce. An idealistic candidate is a good fit for government, precisely because the drive to make a difference is more powerful than a high salary offering.  

“If you look at the most recent Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey, 90 percent of the respondents said they feel the work they do is important. I think idealism and the sense of doing important work really drives most federal employees.”  

Read the Human Resource Executive article

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DHS Announces New Online System to Verify Employment Eligibility

Just this week, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced a new, innovative system where individuals can self-check their employment eligibility instantly online. The E-Verify Self-Check system is being piloted in Arizona, Colorado, District of Columbia, Idaho, Mississippi, and Virginia, and will soon become available in more states.  

E-Verify is officially operated by the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services Agency with the Social Security Administration. It allows any employee or job seeker to look up their work eligibility, and human resources and employers can submit a SSN for a job applicant to quickly verify their information during the selection process.  

How It Works

Once an individual SSN is entered into the online system, it is matched against the DHS and SSA databases. It first prompts the individual to submit a name, birth date, and address; confirm his or her identity by answering demographic and financial questions; and enter a Social Security Number, and if appropriate, an Alien Registration number. If it returns a match, then the person is deemed eligible. Without a match, there are additional investigative procedures that will follow.  

In 2008, the E-Verify program first became required for federal contractors and other employees who must be proven eligible before they are hired. Last year, there were a total of 220,000 participating employers using E-Verify Self-Check.  

According to DHS, Self-Check queries are not shared with users’ employers or prospective employers, nor will they affect a user’s credit score. Also, DHS is notified every time that a user’s identity is verified using the system.  

Read the Federal Computer Week article  

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When New Jobs Are Born: DHS Faces Challenges in Defining a Brand-New Role

The American workforce changes quickly. With each new year, we find new career paths arise from the evolving needs of different organizations. So what happens when a new job is born? Writing effective job descriptions is a strategic part of HR programs that can impact performance assessments, recruiting strategies, and appraisals over the years.  

Defining the Cyber Workforce

Recently, the Department of Homeland Security encountered the obstacle of defining a new job function within their organization. In the past three years, the DHS sought to hire 1,000 new IT employees focused in cybersecurity, but have fallen short. Cybersecurity is a focused expertise that has grown in more recent years, and now the challenge remains in defining what the role is, what a competitive salary would be, and what are the most critical competencies. All of these elements of an effective job description will be important for a company’s leadership team as they examine the actual impact that hiring has on their bottom line.  

“That’s really the issue,” said Nancy Kichak, associate director of strategic human resource policy at the Office of Personnel Management at the Executive Leadership Conference last fall. “Despite the fact that we all use the terminology cybersecurity, just what does it mean? And how do you definite it, and how do you identify these special skills that the cyber work force has?” Kichak said the government is still determining whether it can hire cyber professionals under the current pay structure and what job positions comprise the cybersecurity work force.  

Beginning this month and wrapping up in October, DHS is hoping that an in-depth cybersecurity survey will provide answers to these questions. The agency is also looking to outside focus groups among human resource managers to determine how to approach a new job function.  

Read the full article in the Federal Times

  

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