HR Buzz: Smarter Help Wanted, No Tax Cut Bonanza, Gender Parity

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By Martin Berman-Gorvine

Here’s what you need to know this week about workplace trends, surveys, and reports.

Interviewer Finds the Tables Turned

If you were interviewing someone for a job, the last thing you’d likely expect is for the candidate to turn around and ask you whether you’re qualified for your job.

But it happened to one respondent to a poll of hiring managers and HR practitioners commissioned by Chicago-based jobs website CareerBuilder. Another interviewer discovered that a candidate didn’t have the right skills for the job, but the applicant was undeterred, confiding that his personal philosophy was “Fake it until you make it.” A third respondent was confronted by a job candidate dressed as Darth Vader. The survey of 1,014 practitioners was conducted by Harris Poll Nov. 28 to Dec. 20.

The most common ways candidates kill their chances of a job offer: lying (71 percent), playing with their cell phones during the interview (67 percent), or acting arrogant or entitled (59 percent).

Most Employers Not Turning Tax Cut Into Bonuses

More than half of employers aren’t planning anything special for workers as a result of the recently enacted tax cut.

That’s according to a survey of 301 employers by compensation consultancy Pearl Meyer, which found 52 percent in the no-action camp, “not planning to make any changes to their broad-based employee reward system.” Nineteen percent made changes, including 7 percent that were planning additional changes, and another 29 percent were considering changes.

Almost six in 10 of the companies surveyed Jan. 24 to 31 were publicly held, and the majority had annual revenues of $300 million to $10 billion.

Baby Steps Toward Gender Equity

Good news, millennials: Gender parity on boards should arrive roughly in time for your retirement.

As of Dec. 31,16.5 percent of members of the boards of Russell 3000 companies were women, up from 16.2 percent the preceding quarter, board intelligence consultancy Equilar found. That brought the parity date forward from 2055 to 2048.

About one in five boards (20.8 percent) of these companies were still all-male on New Year’s Eve, compared with 22.5 percent a year earlier, Equilar said.

Whistling in the Dark?

Nearly half of small businesses may be playing with fire given the current cultural climate by failing to provide any sexual harassment training.

More than 1,600 owners of such businesses were queried Jan. 9-12 by business insurance company Insureon and online directory Manta. Forty-seven percent said they don’t do training on avoiding sexual harassment. One-quarter (25 percent) don’t even have formal anti-sexual-harassment policies.

Perhaps those who lack them think they don’t need training or formal policies, as 95 percent of all the respondents said they hadn’t received a sexual harassment complaint. But of the 5 percent that had received complaints, 76 percent reported an increase in the past year.

Junior Can’t Find Work; Blame Minimum Wage?

Teenagers’ trouble finding paid work these days may be traceable to increases in the minimum wage.

“Higher minimum wages are the predominant factor explaining changes in the schooling and workforce behavior of those age 16–17 since 2000,” David Neumark and Cortnie Shupe of Virginia’s George Mason University reported in a working paper. The labor force participation rate of 16- to 19-year-olds fell from 52.7 percent in 1994 to 34 percent in 2014, the paper says.

The researchers considered and rejected as alternative primary explanations for this decline an increased focus on schooling and competition from immigrants.

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