Friday, September 30, 2016

Needed: neighborhood heliports for drone deliveries

Home builders and architects are behind the curve on our 24/7 delivery lifestyle.

Hillary Clinton Will Kill With Kindness ... And Drones

While Hillary Clinton is working hard to label herself as the "candidate of compassion," it is important to note that under the Obama Administration upwards of 116 civilians have been killed by drone strikes. Cartoon by Ed Hall.

Workday Rising - My First HR Conference

I attended the Workday Rising conference in Chicago, my first major HR conference.WF_WebSite_BlogHeaders-13

Almost 7,000 people attended. HR software company Workday released information about new products, features and partnerships. We're going to take a break from my normal beat of wellness for a moment and consider two other workplace issues that I encountered at the conference: learning and recruiting.

James Cross, director of product strategy at Workday, spoke of the increasing relevance of video in today's workplace learning. For example, Workday is incorporating video learning on its platform, and users can create their own content from their own phones. They can post it in seconds onto the platform for learners to watch.

The rising importance of video is as significant as the rise of mobile a few years back, Cross said, paraphrasing Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg who saw the increasing importance of video and developed Facebook Live.

Video has always been powerful, Cross said, but it's only recently that it's been at the reach of your average person or consumer. And because people consume so much video content in their everyday lives, they want their learning content to look the same.

But this explosion of video in the consumer world - think YouTube - hasn't been as quick to spread to the enterprise market, which is why Workday is investing so much time in developing a simple, effective video learning system.

The other gem of this conversation: Cross started out his career as a high school music teacher, which is when he realized how video could have such a strong impact on learning. At the time though, video was difficult enough that other teachers didn't necessarily use it in the same way. Now in 2016, video is so simple anyone with a phone can create video content.

My conversation with Cross was valuable, first of all, because I used to write mostly for our sister magazine Chief Learning Officer about learning and development. Now, on my benefits and wellness beat I wonder: If the rise of video is such a noteworthy development, how might video be incorporated in wellness programs, benefits communications and the like? The rise of telemedicine, for example, is related to the increased availability of video chatting and the convenience of speaking to a doctor or counselor via a phone or computer. Increased access to video and increased simplicity in creating video content is something that could impact other parts of a business outside of learning.

I also spoke with Kelly Swanson, director of HR operations at FICO, the leading data analytics software company. The company is now using Workday's platform and especially found value in the recruiting capabilities. What was especially interesting about this conversation was how FICO used very focused data to recruit a particular type of person: students.

Whereas before their internship program was not robust, now internships are key to FICO's growth strategy. The company looks at developing interns for full time positions, Swanson said. They use this recruiting system, which allows them to focus the search and find the right people who are interested in working in the industry.

Also key to this conversation: the unification of HR processes. For example, FICO uses Workday, which unifies everything from recruiting to onboarding to compensation under one platform and which does so across all of FICO's 38 global offices.

Simplifying HR processes is something I hear a lot about now, and as I head to my next HR conference next week, I'll be sure to look out for more about it.

Andie Burjek is a Workforce associate editorComment below, or email at Follow Workforce on Twitter at @workforcenews.

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6 Scotch Whisky Microdistilleries That Will Change the Industry (Part 1)

Craft distilling is already becoming a hot trend in the Scotch whisky world.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

North Korea Has A Best Friend Forever, U.S. Sanctions Show

Chinese nationals and companies faced sanctions over suspected military support for North Korea, but a broader probe shows one thing for sure: China is North Korea's BFF.

MarketWatch First Take: Tech must look to past to protect the future from an artificial intelligence apocalypse

Through a joint alliance on artificial intelligence, five tech giants need to take a better look at the guidelines established by one of the most influential writers of modern science fiction to protect us from an apocalyptic future.

Will OSHA's New Whistleblower Rules Invalidate Your Settlement Agreement?

When an employer presents an agreement to an employee ancillary to the separation of that employee's employment, or settles a claim asserted by an employee, part of the bargain for which the employer is paying is finality. Yet, over the past couple of years, the federal government has made this finality harder and harder to achieve.WF_WebSite_BlogHeaders-11

Confidentiality, non-disparagement, and other “gag” provisions in employee separation and settlement agreements have been under attack by various federal agencies, including the EEOC and the NLRB. Now, OSHA also has joined the fray. 

Last month, OSHA published new guidance, part of its revisions to its Whistleblower Investigations Manual, which seeks to free employees to report safety and other violations to the government.

As part of OSHA's administration of myriad whistleblower protection statutes, OSHA reviews settlement agreements between complainants and their employers. OSHA only approves such agreements that it deems to be fair, adequate, reasonable, and in the public interest, and if the employee's consent was knowing and voluntary. If OSHA encounters a provision that prohibits, restricts, or otherwise discourages an employee from participating in protected activity, it will reject the agreement until the employer removed the allegedly offensive provision.

OSHA's updated guidance clarifies the criteria OSHA will use to evaluate whether an agreement impermissibly restricts or discourages protected activity.

Moving forward, OSHA will not approve any of the following “gag” provisions:

  1. A provision that restricts the employee's ability to provide information to the government, participate in investigations, file a complaint, or testify in proceedings based on an employer's past or future conduct. For example, OSHA will not approve a provision that restricts an employee's right to provide information to the government related to an occupational injury or exposure.

  2. A provision that requires an employee to notify his or her employer before filing a complaint or voluntarily communicating with the government regarding the employer's past or future conduct.

  3. A provision that requires an employee to affirm that he or she has not previously provided information to the government or engaged in other protected activity, or to disclaim any knowledge that the employer has violated the law.

  4. A provision that requires an employee to waive his or her right to receive a monetary award from a government-administered whistleblower award program for providing information to a government agency, or that requires an employee to remit any portion of such an award to the employer.

So, what is an employer to do? How can an employer secure as much finality as possible while satisfying OSHA's stance against gag provisions? OSHA suggests prominently inserting the following clause into the agreement:

Nothing in this Agreement is intended to or shall prevent, impede or interfere with complainant's non-waivable right, without prior notice to Respondent, to provide information to the government, participate in investigations, file a complaint, testify in proceedings regarding Respondent's past or future conduct, or engage in any future activities protected under the whistleblower statutes administered by OSHA, or to receive and fully retain a monetary award from a government-administered whistleblower award program for providing information directly to a government agency.

Another suggestion? Don't go this alone. Work with your labor and employment counsel to ensure that your agreements are up to date with the ever changing legal landscape. If you haven't recently updated your “standard” release, now is a good time to do so. The government is watching.

Jon Hyman is a partner at Meyers, Roman, Friedberg & Lewis in Cleveland. To comment, email Follow Hyman's blog at

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