Tuesday, March 30, 2010

I felt like Chapter 16 was a review of everything that we have read and talked about this whole semester, for the most part at least. It discussed the elements of a high performance work system, what this is, and things that can be done to try to achieve it, such as compensation, training and development, performance management, etc. The whole semester as we have discussed the different methods that a company can take to improve their work system, I have wondered why it is that more companies don't invest a little more time and/or money into trying to make things work a little smoother. I have also wondered why it is that some of the companies that I have worked for have struggled so much as they try to do so.
How can an employee help his or her employer improve this when there isn't an HR department? Or even when there is?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Chapter 15 goes over international markets and how HRM applies. When a company goes international, they have to understand the culture, and the way business is done in the other countries where they are expanding. If this is not done, there is limited success in the foreign countries. The simplest way of having employees that understand the other culture is to hire from within that company, but sometimes this can be a very complicated process, at least for hiring managers and executives.
What else do companies do to ensure they have a good knowledge of the other culture?

Monday, March 8, 2010

Chapter 12 goes over benefits that are provided by employers such as insurance benefits, paid time off, and retirement programs. The more I learn about some companies and the amounts of benefits they give to their employees, I wonder how some of them turn a profit. The only way that I can see that they will keep a profit is that when they offer these benefits, turnover plummets, and the morale of their employees is very high. With high morale the employees will be much more efficient and the low turnover rate keeps training costs low.
What do companies do to provide employees with good benefits at low cost? How can a company use benefits to keep turnover rates low?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

In chapter 10 I found the answers to a lot of questions that I had about one of my former employer's firing practices. It was very interesting to read about why they would do some of the things they did, especially in an at-will employment state.
The concept that I had been wondering about was why my employer wouldn't just terminate those employees that were not performing at a level that was even half of the expected performance level. It was very frustrating to watch as they tried to find some other reason to fire them, and at times the reasons they found were worse in my opinion than simply firing the person for not performing.
There are many reasons that I found that told me why my employer was so careful with firing people. The biggest was fear of a lawsuit. This fear drove them to develop policies on termination that left them almost no way of keeping good employees and weeding out those who needed to be weeded out.
There is so much involved in trying to keep turnover low, but is it a good decision some times to just terminate an employee and start over? To what point should an employer go to keep a high performing employee content?
How can employers keep themselves safe from lawsuits and still leave themselves elbow room when terminating employees fairly?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

After the guest speaker in class on Thursday I realized that training programs can be a good thing. When a company invests money in its training program, it is almost always cost effective, as long as the employees take it seriously. Training can be used to keep motivation and morale high, making the company more productive and more fun to work at. In many lines of work, a training program can keep the workplace safe, especially if taken seriously.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

It seems to me that most small companies can design training systems fairly easily. They simply walk an employee through the first couple of days, and then watch him or her for a while, providing small help here and there to ensure the job is getting done correctly. In a large company, it is slightly more difficult. A large company worries more about costly mistakes that can be caused by under-training. In a company that I worked for, there was an extensive online training program, and then once every few weeks we had to go to a classroom type training program to learn more about the company's policies. Both the online program and the classroom program were very dull and hard to get through, and therefore I feel they were reasonably ineffective. Would it be cost effective for a company to invest in a more entertaining and captivating training program? Would it help drive down the cost of mistakes that are caused by employees that didn't pay attention to the training? What can a company do to stress the importance of the simple, dull training that they have in place?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Lately outsourcing has been a very hot topic, especially with the economy the way it is. The logic behind outsourcing is explained in chapter 5 and I think it is worth writing a little about. The debate is whether outsourcing is a good thing or not. There is no doubt that it is a less expensive way to do business, but it often takes money and jobs away from those in one place and send them to another, usually a different country. Though economically superior for a specific company, is outsourcing a positive or a negative thing? To what point is it acceptable to do something simply because it is less expensive?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

I've decided that for the most part you have to do what your employee asked, and as we said in class, Utah is an at-will employment state. I think this problem goes back to the psychological contract. An employee needs to have good understanding of what their employer expects, and the employer should realize that the employee will only do what is asked to a certain point without extra motivation. If there is a good psychological contract and both sides keep up their end of the deal, then I would say the number of problems that arise will be very limited.
Chapter 4 deals with job design and work flow. What I have always thought interesting is job description. Many times employers ask their employees to do things that are not included in their job descriptions. As a result, most employers write something like "other tasks as assigned" into their job descriptions. Is there a limit to what an employer can say is under the "other tasks" category? Should an employee always do what is asked, even when it may be a very extreme interpretation of "other tasks"?

Most employers will only provide information like the dates of employment, what pay was received, and what positions the person held in the company.
In class we discussed this and decided that it is a very difficult situation, but then we also decided that if we were ever dismissed from a company for bad behavior, we probably wouldn't be asking that company for a reference letter anyway. We would be more likely to ask a previous employer that would be able to write positive things in the letter.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

I read an article called Employee References: Is Passing Off Your Bad Apples to Someone else OK?
Below is a link to the article.
It was a very interesting article that poses a good question: What can a former employer say in a reference letter when the employment may not have been terminated on the best of terms? There are laws that protect employees from slander, and from a reference letter being written that casts a negative light on the prospective employee.

What can an employer do to limit the problems they may have as a result of the letter? (The article has a few answers that will be discussed in the not so distant future right here on my blog)

In class we discussed the different reasons what a person may find it difficult to report a problem that he or she is seeing. We mostly figured that it is so hard because even though there are laws that should prevent it, there is almost always some form of retaliation when a problem is reported and the person making the problem gets in trouble. We didn't come to a conclusion 0n a good solution to this, other than keeping the employee who reported the problem confidential, even though that can only happen to a certain extent.
It is a tough situation, and I figure that's why there are laws that try to protect us all from it.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


Chapter 3 discusses many of the problems and solutions to equal opportunity in employment. In my experience, I have had both good and bad examples of how managers can model their hiring and firing practices. Even with so many laws that are in place to prevent unfair hiring, firing, and treatment of employees, there are so many unfair situations. It is a very delicate situation and if taken care of wrong, there can be severe consequences.

What can a person do to avoid these problems and consequences?

When a person is facing situations that relate to bad hiring, firing, or treatment practices, what can he or she do to fix the situation?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

In discussion today we talked about how much a manager's or owner's attitude can change the mood and morale, and even the success of the company as a whole. In our group we talked about the the different bosses we have had and how it was to work for them. Many times a bad boss can cause such a high turnover rate that there is no way to train employees fast enough to keep up with work demand, and therefore the company can cease to exist. Also we discussed the movie clip we saw and how positive the experience can be when the boss is good and fun and there is good communication. When both sides of the psychological contract fulfill their responsibilities, a very bad job can turn into something that anyone would be willing to do.
Psychological Contracts
A psychological contract is essentially an unspoken expectation of what the employee will do for a company and what the employer will do for the employee. Every day this is becoming more and more complicated. Because of the fast pace of the modern industries, an employee is expected to contribute more now than in previous times, there is also less job security for those who aren't keeping up with the demands. As a result of lower job security and higher demands on time and more stress on the job, an employer is expected to provide a more comfortable place to work as well as other things in order to keep the employee morale up. If an employee doesn't keep his or her end of the bargain, termination is likely. For an employer, employees will either quit, or possibly worse, just be unhappy and ineffective.

How does a good, hard working employee feel when his or her employer doesn't respect these expectations? What actions can an employer take when employees aren't honoring this psychological contract?

What can we all do to keep up our end of the contract?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

This is Me

My name is Corwin Carlson Hurst. I was born on May 12, 1987 in Salt Lake City, Utah. My parents are Michael and Stacy Hurst. I am the third of four children, with one older brother Alan, older sister Annika, and younger brother Westley. Ever since I was a small child I have been quite interested in knowing how things work. I love to take things apart just to see how everything fits together. As a result of this fascination, I quickly learned how to put things back together, usually successfully. I also love to build pretty much anything. My most recent feats have been a cherry jewelry box for my wife and some oak shelves for my parents.

I grew up in a musical family. My mom and all four of us kids were Madrigals in high school, and my dad is now in the Utah Symphony Chorus. My grandma was even in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. At family gatherings we usually end up around a piano singing. In my family there has always been an emphasis on health. I played Lacrosse in high school, I lift weights, mountain bike, hike, and occasionally go on a run, pretty much anything to keep me outside.

In high school I also realized how much I love cars of every shape and size, especially if I get to work on them or drive them. After high school I framed houses for a year before serving an LDS mission to Guadalajara, Mexico, home of Mariachi. I now speak fluent, and almost always very Mexican, Spanish.

Upon returning and trying to figure out the English language again I got engaged to my beautiful and amazing wife Katherine. I proposed on the beach in San Diego in July of 2008, and we were married five months later on the 27 of December.

At the moment I am finishing my second year in the Construction Management program and working for a small landscape company called Pristine Landscape.