HR Magazine - November 2000: What's New

By David L. Barrette Nov 1, 2000
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HR Magazine,   July 2000Vol. 45, No. 9

| Benefits | Compensation | Employee Communication | Employment Law | HR Management | Management | Outsourcing | Pension Plans | Recruitment | Retention | Strategic Planning | Training


Businesses that self-insure dental coverage for their employees now are offered the Administrative Services Only (ASO) dental plan option through Ameritas Life Insurance Corp. The Ameritas ASO program requires no advance deposit for dental claims processing services. This is a “pay-as-you-go” plan, which means that, as claims are processed, the employer is notified about the amount of money that needs to be deposited. According to Ameritas, if an employer is not satisfied with Ameritas’ overall level of performance, Ameritas will send that employer a refund check.

The newest entrant into the employee services market is Sparkfly Inc. The company operates by using a four-pronged approach: providing concierge services, offering improved work/life balance tools and services, providing an employee portal, and acting as an application service provider (ASP) for clients. Sparkfly’s offerings and structure are designed to make a dramatic impact on an individual’s lifestyle by providing services for information, shopping and other daily activities to community members at work, home or on the go. Sparkfly also supports the customer from a single point of contact across all vendors and service providers, ensuring a consistent and quality experience.


Find detailed compensation data on 237 nonexempt and lower-level exempt jobs with the William M. Mercer Inc. 2000 Metropolitan Benchmark Compensation Survey. The surveyhighlights the pay variations that exist geographically throughout the United States. Some jobs listed are common to organizations in all industries, such as those in the fields of administration, clerical support, accounting, finance, human resources, communications, technology, customer service and maintenance. Other jobs are specific to certain industries, including health care, banking, insurance, manufacturing and engineering. The survey data were compiled for 117 metropolitan areas nationwide.

Employee Communication

Give your employees a way to express themselves beyond mere finger-pointing and griping. offers a variety of tools to help workers voice their views, including free, anonymous online assessments of their employers. These assessments address fundamental work issues such as leadership, communication, career development and training. Workers in the new economy want to work for companies that share their values. They also want to contribute ideas and to be taken seriously by their managers. delivers comprehensive assessments of organizational issues and offers a wide range of resources to address specific issues identified by the assessments.

Employment Law

CCH Inc. has published a new reference guide to help multinational corporations manage complex employment-related issues. Authored by the employment law experts at the law firm of Baker & McKenzie, Worldwide Guide to Termination, Employment Discrimination, and Workplace Harassment Laws serves as a handy reference on critical employment laws around the world and presents plain-English explanations on what employers need to know on a country-by-country basis. Included for each country is an introduction to the employment laws and culture of that country.

Learn how to protect your company from harassment claims by making the right “real-world” decision early, before a complaint becomes a charge or lawsuit. No Zone, from the law firm of Bryan Cave, is a web-based, harassment-training program for supervisors. Unlike fixed media, No Zone web-based training is easily updated and can stay current with changing laws. No Zone is fully customizable to clients and can be personalized for user companies. The product is designed to give clients better control of their legal issues and costs.

HR Management

Instant benchmarking solutions are available through an online database from Best practices research has been conducted and is available online. Search by keyword or browse through the database. Six key subject areas—business operations, customer service, human resources, Internet and e-business, knowledge management, and sales and marketing—include more than 750 subcategories. The database also features a sophisticated search and browse capability that helps customers efficiently mine the benchmarking research they need.

The Aguila Consulting Group Inc. (ACGI) has announced the establishment of its e-Applications Division to introduce a line of human resource management products that reduce costs while increasing the efficiency of human resources staffs. The new division delivers fully hosted web-based applications as application service providers (ASPs) that automate and streamline the HR processes of small and large organizations quickly and cost-effectively. These comprehensiveapplicationsare designed to fit the needs of both private corporations and public agencies, and yet remain flexible and affordable enough for even the small emerging company. These new ASPs allow for easy and seamless integration with other information systems and require no maintenance or system upgrades.


A new book, Business Contracts Kit for Dummies (IDG Books, 2000) cuts through legalese and offers straightforward practical advice . Written by Richard D. Harroch, it is appropriate for anyone who has to deal with the often confusing world of legal contracts. The book offers advice on how to incorporate your business, draft employment contracts, tackle web agreements or conquer leases, licenses and loans. The book includes a CD-ROM that has dozens of useable sample contracts and documents.


If you’re a small business owner, telecommuter or road warrior, NowDocs can save you time and money. NowDocs is a full-service, same-day document print and delivery company. Using the Internet, NowDocs can print, bind, package and deliver documents across the globe in as little as two hours. No custom software is needed to use NowDocs. The two-hour service, as well as overnight delivery and other services, is currently available in 16 cities.

Outsource your compensation and benefits research. Whether you need executive compensation data or want to calculate a specific position in a certain city, the Economic Research Institute (ERI) provides research for private and public organizations in the form of published reports and software database products. ERI’s software applications are available on a subscription basis and are used by more than 6,000 corporations. ERI’s Platform Library CD allows for easy installation of products and provides an enormous amount of complementary data. ERI’s Platform also serves as a gateway to additional free data available via the Internet. ERI research data can provide you with answers to all manner of questions relating to salary survey, wage survey, salary comparisons, cost-of-living, employee group insurance and executive compensation salary comparisons.

Start-up companies that do not have a formalized human resource infrastructure now have on-demand help. Benchmark HR Solutions Inc. has launched its HR Retained services group and hotline. The HR Retained team and service offerings provide an on-demand, person-to-person resource for compliance and legislation issues, employee relations and communications counsel and, among other areas, benefits and compensation questions. The HR Retained serviceprovides companies with an analysis of their HR infrastructure as well as with on-call resources and a quarterly newsletter,which provides insight and commentary on legal and compliance trends, benefits and compensation issues, and employee relations matters.

Pension Plans

Plan your retirement online with GoldK, a full-service, online retirement services company. Free record keeping and administrative services, and a comprehensive suite of participant technology-based user-customized learning materials are just a few of the key features of GoldK’s 401(k) plans. In addition to free service, the company’s retirement plans include the 401(k) Mall, a multi-manager selection of mutual funds, a self-directed brokerage option and the 1-Click IRA Rollover, which gives a GoldK plan participant the ability to easily transfer a retirement account upon termination of employment or retirement from a plan sponsor.


Determine if a person is compatible with call center work with a new tool from HR Directions. The firm’s Customer Service Profile measures several key service competencies that significantly influence customer service behaviortraits such as sensitivity, initiative, objectivity, resilience and confidence. The screening tool contains two sections with multiple choice questions. Unlike most profiles that give only a pass-fail grade, HR Directions’ Customer Service Profile ranks applicants in one of four profiles from a “very high” level of compatibility to a “very low” level of compatibility, providing an extensive narrative for each profile.


Create surveys in a matter of minutes with a powerful new human resources tool from Clarigent, a Houston-based Internet software company. Clarigent’s web-based information-gathering tool allows users to easily develop customized employee surveys, launch them in minutes and receive results immediately. Clarigent requires no new hardware, no complicated installations, no involved software updates and no support headaches. Surveys are hosted on Clarigent’s servers and are available to customers 24 hours a day.

Promote higher employee morale, better retention rates and greater output by helping your employees answer their financial questions. has introduced a new line of timesaving, customizable, paycheck planning calculators and employee benefits guides designed for HR managers and employees. The paycheck calculators can compute information such as take-home pay, gross pay and stock options and can calculate current federal, state and some municipal taxes. The paycheck planning calculators also can be licensed and branded for use on intranet systems. The benefits guides are designed to answer employee questions on topics ranging from 401(k) and defined benefit plans to life and disability insurance.

Strategic Planning

Help for strategic planning is here. WorkForce Planner helps HR professionals in companies of all sizes and in all industries to become versed in the area of strategic human resource planning, to create dialogues with company line managers and to make the link with executives who develop and implement strategic business plans. The WorkForce Planner is a comprehensive binder with a packet of cards outlining business strategy, human resource strategy and recruiting variable questions. These tools allow HR professionals to work with clients to understand the corporate culture needed to support business goals. The planner creates staffing strategies to support those business goals. By design, the WorkForce Planner adapts to fit a variety of applications.


The Jorgensen Group has developed a new series of drug-free workplace training modules that meet federal training guidelines. The Drug Free Workplace Training system is a series of eight individual modules that address all aspects of drug-free workplace training and development. Each training session can be delivered with a minimum amount of preparation time. Modules include a step-by-step instructor guide, interactive participant manuals, a PowerPoint presentation CD, quick quizzes and support material. The series can be previewed and ordered online.

Product manufacturers and developers provide the information for What’s New. Inclusion in this sample of products does not necessarily imply endorsement by SHRM or HR Magazine.

David L. Barrette is a freelance writer based in Alexandria, Va.

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