Our federal government really likes to spend billions of dollars every year, often I hear people complain about its uncontrollable spending habits and the politics associated with it. You won’t hear me complaining because I like getting work from the government! Once you get all the red tape taken care of it’s very easy work and the pay is not too shabby either.
Business owners and managers of firms who have yet to capitalize on this steady stream of revenue might consider that now’s a good time to jump on the bandwagon. Why not? The economy sucks, no one’s buying anything, but the government is!
So now you’re in a meeting and the sales team is talking about all the revenues that the company could realize if they start getting government bids. With all the charisma and good news, do you dare to start talking about expenses?
There are major employment compliance costs associated with becoming a government contractor, therefore it is up to the HR and legal team to be informed so owners and executives can make proper decisions that take all costs into consideration.
It is critical to realize that the costs associated with obeying regulatory obligations are: contingent upon the size of the company, the extent and intricacy of its hiring processes, the aggregate of applicant, promotion, and termination activity, and the complexity of HR information systems.
Compliance as a federal contractor in the first year is extremely expensive, therefore the following costs need to be considered: Training payroll clerks on any existing wage rate issues, reconfiguring IT to account for additional fields that the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) requires, analyzing job-application forms to make sure the firm is soliciting the race and gender of Internet applicants, putting into practice and publishing new policies e.g. Drug-Free Workplace Act and commitment to nondiscrimination and affirmative action, organizing annual affirmative action plans, training HR on recordkeeping responsibilities in accordance with OFCCP regulations—and the list goes on! Then with all the new piles of paperwork you’ll likely need more employees in HR to manage it.
Never rely on your sales team to read the fine print on the contract. Let’s face it; the folks in sales only have the ability to sell more products and services to Uncle Sam. As an HR professional who’s looking out for your firm’s bester interest, it’s valuable to realize that there are indeed some major benefits related to procuring government contracts, but compliance costs are real, so comply to the hilt or don’t submit that bid.
A few years ago I remember going to McDonalds and the cahier taking my order had Down-Syndrome. He did the job perfectly, it was almost too good! I had never received such great service from a McDonald’s employee before.
As I got to thinking about it, I wondered why McDonald’s didn’t hire more people with disabilities? McDonald’s system is a poka-yoke (fail-safe), they’ve broken down the process into something so easy, that now even people that are handicapped can do it, and they can do it well. A realized a company really only needs to make minor adjustments to accommodate people with disabilities. Essentially, making a process (or part of a process) mistake-proof and/or eliminating certain steps can allow a company to have a person with limited abilities to perform the job function. Such would not make a huge impact on the company’s business model, but it would make all the difference in the life of a disabled person.
A few years ago Walgreens opened a new distribution center in Windsor, Connecticut designed specifically to employ people with disabilities. People who were disabled filled about one-third of the jobs. This action shows Walgreen’s long-term commitment to hiring people with disabilities. Walgreens understands that the growth of the conventional labor pool is declining and workforce ages and disability rates are increasing. Walgreens also realizes the true benefits that exist from supporting the abilities of this regularly underemployed group.
What might these benefits be? Fore starters, there are substantial tax benefits for hiring workers with disabilities. In addition, companies have the satisfaction of providing opportunities to people that will expand their individual potential and self-worth. What’s interesting is that the disabled population is one that any person can become a member of at anytime, and more people are likely to join this population as our workforce ages. Nearly 13 percent of people ages 21 to 64 are considered disabled, this percentage jumps to 30 percent for people between the ages of 65 to 74. Further, the number of people disabled over the age of 75 is 53 percent. In understanding these numbers and realizing that our workforce will be working longer, it would be a wise choice to start making accommodations now for people with disabilities, and those who will eventually become disabled.
Walgreens is an example of a successful company that makes it a priority to create a company culture that embraces and encourages diversity. In order for such a culture to be adopted, Employers need a paradigm shift when it comes to viewing people with disabilities.
It starts with reassessing how work, productivity and accommodation can come together. Walgreens didn't lower its standards for productivity; rather it made the work more natural through the use of technology and job redesign. In one instance keyboards were replaced with touch screens that had large icons and no words, which made it easier for people with cognitive disabilities to learn and complete tasks.
This is the last month of the last semester of my MBA program at SUU and all of a sudden I have something I haven't had in almost a decade...FREE TIME!
Today my wife was out volunteering with the youth girls at church and I got to stay home all morning and afternoon with my one-year-old son Taft. We had such a fun time eating breakfast (I had the slow-carb eggs, beans, spinach and salsa while Taft had banana and macadamia nut pancakes), then I followed the written routine Katie left for me: Bath time, playtime, lunch, and nap. Taft was so good! He usually runs around the house naked before I catch him and put him in the bath, this time he was such an obedient boy, he didn't even fight me as I changed his diaper.
For playtime I broke out all my old Star Wars action figures. I soon realized Taft is not old enough to play with 3" special edition Han Solo and Boba Fett action figures after he put the mini blasters and light sabers in his mouth and started chewing on Darth Vader's head. So my special toys went back into storage until a later date and time...probably after Taft watches both trilogies and can truly express to me that he appreciates the force, wookies, and ewoks.
When Katie got home we went grocery shopping, something I really never do, but am looking forward to doing more often. Grocery stores are so cool! After having worked at one for my first job I still have this phobia that I'm going to get called on the PA system to bag groceries at register 7. We didn't get much, my primary need was corn chips and salsa. I am on this pursuit to find the world's best salsa. I think I've found it, but I'm constantly looking for something better. I bought a gallon of Wild Coyote - so far so good. It doesn't top Jack's Salsa (which is my absolute #1 favorite) but it will do.
After shopping we went to DQ for mini-blizzards and a drive around our small town. I could tell Taft really liked my chocolate truffle blizzard. It was definitely a binge day from my slow carb diet with the blizzard and the french bread grilled cheese sandwich I had earlier. But hey, what are squats and triceps extensions for?
Ok, so this was a fun blog post. Of course as a newly minted MBA I will be blogging less about the play-by-play of my day and more about the softer side of management (which is my passion). It took me seven years of juggling full-time work and school to realize what fields of business I am interested in. After having applied everything I learned in every class at work (also known as my management laboratory) I realized I don't enjoy the stock market, accounting (unless it's managerial), or any of the boring number crunching subjects. Rather, I love to have fun, be happy, and I really enjoy interacting with people. So much of what I will blog about will involve HR, marketing, customer service, business development, productivity, and the occasional random (and geeky) things I find interesting.
Paul Hill, Ph.D.
I design, plan, and evaluate economic development programs for Utah State University.
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