Week 10 Blog Assignment

According to Investopedia, the biggest benefit of unions is that they give workers the ability to negotiate their pay, benefits, working conditions, and more. This can help make the company a better place to work overall, and actually help increase productivity and motivation. However, one downside of unions that Investopedia consistently pointed out is that they can make it hard to fire unproductive workers. They can also drive costs up because union workers make more on average than non-union workers. While these benefits only extend to workers and the company, there is also evidence that states with more union density are better off overall. According to the Economic Policy Institute, states with the most unions have higher minimum wages, a low uninsured population, and fewer voting restrictions, among other positive things. This demonstrates that unions are good for everyone, even those not directly connected to a union.

The lecture for this week mentioned that companies sometimes resist unions because they constrain what managers can and cannot do. Although not stated explicitly, this applies to the idea that unions can make it harder to fire unproductive workers, which corroborates what I found in my research. The lecture also mentioned that union workers tend to receive higher wages and more benefits, which is consistent with what Investopedia stated as a con for companies. However, there was no mention in this week’s lecture of the ways that unions can be helpful on a community level.

My dad is a member of the teachers’ union in his school district, so I had a chance to ask him some questions about his thoughts on the union. He has mixed thoughts on the union, and most of them coincide with what was mentioned in lecture and what I found through my research. He appreciates that he has access to legal counsel if he were to be fired or disciplined without clear cause. He also agrees with the idea that unions help in increasing wages and benefits. However, he cited the fact that the union protects all teachers, even those underperforming or engaged in questionable behavior, as the reason why he has mixed feelings. He told me a story about a teacher who put on a video for students in class and then watched pornography on his desktop in the back of the room. This teacher was not fired – he was just moved to a different school in the district. Since he was not misusing funds or making direct sexual advances toward students, the district couldn’t find enough cause to fire him that would satisfy the union. Obviously, this is an extreme example, but it speaks to how difficult it is to fire teachers when their performance is not up to par.

My key takeaway from this week is that unions are not as black and white as I once thought they were. There is a lot of grey area in terms of how things are handled and there is a fine line between a helpful union and a hurtful one. Overall, though, I still have a positive view of unions, and I would join one if given the chance. I think they do important work in making sure workers are paid and supported fairly, and I want to support that cause. I think the United States has a far too work-centric view of life, and I want to support the idea that people can have a healthy work-life balance and still be a valuable asset to their company.




Week 9 Blog Assignment

I got a score of 180 on the Life Stress Inventory test, which indicates that I have roughly a 50% chance of a major health breakdown in the next two years. I got a 67 on the Coping and Stress Management test, which means I mostly use problem-focused strategies when I have issues, which is good if I’m facing problems I can control, but not so good otherwise. I got a 32 on the Type A Personality survey, which indicates that I rarely get frustrated and lash out at others. Having a low Type A score is a good thing because a Type A Behavior Pattern can be dangerous to your health.

From the Life Stress Inventory test, I learned that I have a lot more big stressors in my life than I thought I did. I expected to be below 150, and thus in the more healthy range, so I was surprised when I was not. However, thinking about it now, I can see how some of the events in my life over the past year can be stressors, even if I don’t think they are. My grandma passed away about 9 months ago which was a huge stressor in my life at the time. I’d like to think that I’ve moved forward, and for the most part I think I have, but I’m sure there’s still some residual stress and emotional strife left over, which will probably increase as we get closer to the one year anniversary of her passing. I was also surprised by the results of the Coping and Stress Management test. I normally think of myself as having pretty good coping strategies, so I was not expecting the results I got. However, I can see how I’m very action oriented, so when a problem arises I want to work through it and move on, which is not always viable or productive.

To help me manage stress throughout my professional career, I can find healthy outlets for it. I need to understand that I won’t be able to solve every single problem of my own accord; some things are out of my control. Finding healthy outlets to deal with issues I can’t fix could help lower my stress and keep me healthy in the long run.

Two things I saw mentioned fairly often in discussions about workplace stress and health were burnout and substance use disorder. According to Corporate Wellness Magazine, “workers who are stressed at work are more likely to engage in unhealthy behaviors, such as cigarette smoking, alcohol and drug abuse, and poor dietary patterns.” In order to reduce the risk of these behaviors, organizations are encouraged to offer opportunities for work/life balance by allowing for flexible schedules and creating new ways for people to take time off. It is also recommended to create clear promotion and monetary reward tracks for employees. According to CNBC, several big companies are offering free subscriptions to meditation apps to help mitigate employee stress levels, among other things.




Week 8 Blog Assignment

During my last two years of high school, I worked at a golf course during the spring, summer, and fall. I was making $9.25 an hour, which was the minimum wage in Nevada at the time. However, I also made tips for cleaning the carts, restocking the range, and doing other customer-facing duties. On the weekends during the summer, I would sometimes make as much as $200 in tips in a single night. On the weekdays, especially in the spring and fall, I would walk away with much less. When I first started, I put the same amount of effort into every shift. Even if it was a cold Wednesday night, I’d be out chatting with customers and trying to earn more tips. However, as time went on, I started to get lazier on days that I knew I wouldn’t make as many tips. I would sit in the office instead of standing out back, and I’d let three or four carts collect out back before going to clean them, rather than cleaning them as soon as they came in. My slacking performance was definitely due to the fact that I knew I wouldn’t make as much money. I figured why even try if I was only going to make an extra dollar or two. I also felt that I wasn’t being paid enough to put my all in on nights when I wasn’t taking home a large sum in tips. Looking back now, $9.25 an hour is not bad AT ALL, especially for a high school job, but I had some friends who were making $12 or $15 an hour elsewhere, so comparatively I felt like I was being lowballed.

I think comparing my hourly pay to my friends’ motivated me to be lazier. I didn’t feel like the golf course was giving me their all in terms of compensation, so I sure wasn’t going to give them my all. However, there was a certain tip threshold that motivated me again, because it made the work on par with what I felt my time was worth. I suppose it wasn’t the compensation that motivated me to slack off, but the lack thereof.

Week 6 Blog Assignment

Last fall, I took a Business Law class that I found very helpful and interesting. My professor used real-world examples almost every single class to give context to what we were learning, which was helpful to me in actually understanding the material. I still remember a lot of the topics we covered because they have a connection to the real world in my brain. I also liked the class because the professor actually cared about us outside of the classroom, and she encouraged us to make real connections with each other. She checked in with us almost every week to make sure we were doing well in all our classes and not feeling too overwhelmed. She put us in groups often and gave us the freedom to relate to the class in any way we saw fit. It fostered a really collaborative environment and made us all close on a level beyond what I have in my normal classes.

This term, I am taking a Business Information Systems class that is not as effective or interesting as Business Law was. Interestingly, my professor provides lots of real-world examples in this class as well. I think the difference between Business Law and BIS is that my Business Law professor involved us in the examples and let us give our input and discuss them with classmates. My BIS professor just puts them in the slides, talks through them, and then moves on. Additionally, I get the sense that my BIS professor doesn’t have much respect for us in general. He treats us like students, not people. It’s obvious that he doesn’t respect our opinions or our thoughts that we voice in class. No matter how interesting the content may be, none of us want to learn from him.

I think this proves why interpersonal training and socialization are so important. Connecting with other students and the professor on a deeper level makes class so much more meaningful and enjoyable, and the same goes for work. Both are not just places we go to get things done; they also provide much of our social life as adults. I think trainings should reflect this and encourage employees to collaborate with others to get the socialization they need. Encouraging employees to form bonds with coworkers that go beyond just surface-level can make them happier and more likely to stay when times get tough. It also makes work more memorable and meaningful, which is the goal at the end of the day.

Extra Credit Blog Assignment

I did the implicit bias experiment about attractiveness. It was testing to see whether I picked more attractive candidates over less attractive ones, even if their internship applications were weaker than or equal to the less attractive applicants’ applications.

I think that implicit bias could heavily impact the validity of an interview. Even if the interviewer is asking all the right questions and the candidate is personable and gives good answers, the interview could fail to assess what it needs to because of the interviewers’ pre-existing notions or first impressions of the candidate. They could disregard certain answers, or even brush past a certain candidate altogether just based on, in this case, their looks.

I think attractiveness is an especially dangerous one because it’s not something that many people think of as a bias at all. Even people who are very aware of their own biases may not think that they are negatively stereotyping people based on the way they look. It’s ingrained in us by the media from an early age that conventionally attractive people have more value to society, so it’s hard for us to question that. Interviewer training programs are designed to combat biases against different races, ethnicities, genders, sexualities, ability levels, etc, but there are not many programs specifically focused on attractiveness. Attractiveness is also not a protected class, so people are being discriminated against for something they can’t control, and they can’t do anything about the discrimination either.

Week 5 Discussion Post

Several weeks ago, I interviewed for an internship for next summer. The interview process was different than I expected and much different than any other process I’ve ever experienced. However, I had a good experience and I think other companies, especially those of similar size, should consider implementing something similar.

At my initial interview, I had a chance to sit down with the hiring manager and chat casually about what the job would look like. I expected it to be much more formal, but it was basically just a get-to-know-you. At my second interview, I met with two groups of two people. They were all CPAs who actively worked in accounting, which was a change from my first interview. It was closer to a formal interview, but it was still laid back enough that I felt comfortable asking questions and being my authentic self. I also got a tour of the office from two girls who were close to my own age.

Despite the informality, I do find this to be a fairly reliable method of interviewing. The same people interviewed all the candidates, so there was consistency in that aspect. The more casual attitude also allowed interviewees to let their guard down and be more authentic, which means you get to see more of their real personality. I could also tell that they had a list of questions that they were pulling from, so it was more of a structured interview than not. However, they also asked follow up questions and let the conversation flow, so it wasn’t a strict script.

Most accounting firms expect you to know next to nothing about accounting when you come in as an intern, so what they’re mostly looking for is a good attitude and a willingness to learn. I think the less formal interview has a high level of validity in this sense, because you’re able to get a good idea of an applicant’s personality and flexibility. A lot of the questions they asked were related to dealing with unexpected situations and surprises as well. This demonstrates to me that they were trying to up the validity of the process by specifically asking questions to gauge the qualities they deem most important.

Especially for entry level positions, where attitude is more important than hard skills, I think this interview method is very effective. It gives candidates a chance to meet lots of people from the company and be more authentic than they would in a more formal setting. This helps companies determine who could best grow into the position and within the company.

Week 4 Discussion Post

From my experience, it is very difficult to toe the line between being too specific and too vague when writing a job description. On one hand, if the description is too broad, you will have an endless pile of applications from unqualified candidates to sift through. This could cause you to miss the applications from the qualified applicants, and hire someone subpar for the job. Conversely, if the job description is too specific or complicated, you may have very few applicants because most people don’t apply to jobs if they don’t meet all of the listed qualifications. This limits your pool of applicants and may prematurely eliminate the best candidate for the job.

Developing a job description can also be difficult because it is nearly impossible to cover all the necessary skills for the job in a small posting. Unexpected situations arise all the time which may require a skillset that you never knew your employee would need. For example, the Task-KSAO analysis approach can be very helpful in outlining the specific duties of the job and the qualities needed to do them, but it can’t predict the unpredictable, so there will always be a piece missing.

Maintaining job descriptions for current employees is important because it allows the company to monitor and measure an employee’s performance against expectations, which can be helpful in determining promotions and necessary disciplinary actions. However, it can be a difficult task because only the employee truly knows what they do on a day-to-day basis. There could be a large discrepancy between what the employee does each day and what their job description says they should be doing, which could negatively skew performance reports.

Despite the challenges of creating and managing job descriptions, it is almost always best practice to have them in place. They can serve as guides for hiring and firing decisions and benchmarks for employees who are acclimating to a new role. They can also help the company track what departments, and what employees within those, are doing what kinds of work.

Week 1 Discussion Post

  1. Edward Jones

Edward Jones practices Strategic HRM throughout their organization. Their main goal as an organization is to have a “positive impact” to “improve the lives of clients and colleagues,” according to their website. This is reflected in their employee reviews, which classify the company as having a great culture and sense of partnership. This clearly illustrates that their HR practices align with their larger objectives. 

  1. Kimpton Hotels and Restaraurants

Kimpton’s largest word in the employee review word cloud is “people,” followed by “everyone.” This clearly shows that they place emphasis on supporting the people who work for them, which is consistent with their mission statement: “heartfelt human connections make peoples’ lives better.” The strong correlation between their company values and the way that their employees feel speaks to a Strategic HRM practice.

  1. Pinnacle Financial Partners

I think Pinnacle Financial Partners also practices Strategic HRM. Employee reviews cite the emphasis that the company places on culture, people, and their team of associates. Their mission statement states that one of their goals, besides providing services to clients, is enrich associates personally, professionally and financially. This consistency in their mission statement and their employee reviews shows that they are committed to Strategic HRM. 

I’d like to be a manager that focuses on people and their well-being above profits or productivity. Obviously, both of the latter two things are important, but I really believe that employees who are happy and healthy are more productive. People can’t function if they’re burnt out or unhappy, so I think taking care of them as people first and employees second is most important. I think one of the most challenging parts of a managers job is finding a balance between being sympathetic and helpful, while also holding people accountable for their actions and duties.