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HR Magazine, July 2005 - From the Editors


HR Magazine, July 2005

Vol. 50, No. 7

Effect of compensation packages; pregnancy discrimination; workers with intellectual disabilities


Your Money Talks—But What Is It Saying?

There are many different ways to create a great working environment, as you’ll see by scanning this year’s list of Best Small & Medium Companies to Work for in America. But one of the commonalities you’ll find among companies on this list is that they all let employees know they are valued. And most of them aren’t shy about using cold hard cash—or its equivalent—to get their point across.

Doing so seems to work well on two levels.

First, workers ultimately work to put roofs over their heads and food on their tables. A job that significantly underpays them for their efforts won’t create the kind of positive work environment that makes workers jump out of bed on Monday morning.

Second, it’s inconsistent to tell workers they are invaluable parts of your organization and then pay them like ordinary ho-hum drones. When companies offer generous compensation packages—whether salary, profit sharing, stock options, incentive compensation or some combination thereof—they show that their actions match their words, and that their words can be counted on.

For a more in-depth look at how great companies offer great rewards—including generous paid health premiums and retirement plans—see this month’s cover story.

—Patrick Mirza

Uncommon Skills

If you are at all concerned about a shortage of workers, you’ll need to know what Contributing Editor Linda Wasmer Andrews sets forth in "Hiring People with Intellectual Disabilities". Such individuals are proving to be capable, dependable workers—often in jobs presumed to be out of their reach—and employers and HR professionals are helping them succeed.

People with intellectual disabilities are showing they not only can work on landscaping crews or as baggers in supermarkets but also can serve as cashiers, office aides or technical assistants. For example, nurse Erin Riehle of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, who has hired dozens of people with intellectual disabilities for jobs with a high level of responsibility, such as managing medical equipment, has found that they do well in “complex jobs that are routine or systematic.”

What’s more, employers—like Riehle’s hospital—don’t have to go it alone; various organizations stand ready to provide job counseling and other services for employers and their workers with intellectual disabilities. Moreover, the accommodations needed for such workers are typically small, and sometimes prove beneficial to other employees.

—Terence F. Shea

For some expectant mothers, the kick of new life they feel in the womb is quickly followed by a less friendly blow from their employers, who kick those pregnant workers to the curb. In other cases, employers assume they understand a pregnant employee’s limits and then act accordingly to limit her work hours—and her job advancement opportunities.

Both of these reactions are examples of potential violations of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA)—a law that is getting quite a workout: PDA claims are one of the fastest-rising forms of discrimination, faster even than sexual harassment.

For insights into some of the factors causing this rise in PDA suits (at a time when the birth rate is dropping) and for tips on how to steer clear of the courtroom, see "Pregnancy Discrimination Grows" .

 —Patrick Mirza

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