Future Friday Replay: Habits of a Futurist

by Michael Haberman on May 18, 2018 · 0 comments


These are just some of the habits that can make you an effective futurist.

I read an article in Business Insider called Why Every Corporation Should Employ A Futurist where the author talked about what a “futurist” could do for companies. Two of these were:

  • Futurists think in terms of “multiple futures” rather than one. Not only does this increase the chances that one will have a plan for the actual future, but it also “intellectually conditions” one to adapt to change.
  • Futurists also see value in challenging basic assumptions.

That made me think of this post I wrote earlier in the year about habits that you can learn to help you apply “futurist” thinking. Some of this we are starting to see in the DisruptHR meetings that are occurring around the world. So read this and apply some of these principles to your way of thinking.

Yesterday I wrote about the work habits of a genius. Today I want to expose you to the work habits of a futurist. Why you ask? I want you to think like a futurist, at least to be aware of things that will have an impact on you, your job, and your company. The futurist I refer to is Richard Watson. He was profiled in an article in Quartz by writer Ephrat Livini. He is an interesting person, but I don’t necessarily agree with all of his habits. I will, however, tell you about the ones from which I think you can learn.

Practice selective ignorance

In today’s world, it is very easy to get overwhelmed by the massive amount of available in today’s world. Afterall, 2.5 exabytes are produced every day. That is the equivalent of 250,000 Libraries of Congress, every day! You would not be able to get through one Library of Congress in a single lifetime. Pick quality over quantity and try to move from breadth and depth in areas that are important to you.

Burst the bubble

Just like we perform random acts of kindness to improve the world we should practice random acts of interest. Pick up a magazine or book or strike up a conversation with a stranger. As Livini says “These random acts of interest in strangers and unusual communications break your information consumption routines and expose you to unique insights.”

Find the tall poppies

Back in 2010, I wrote Performance & Recognition: Does Your Unspoken Culture Weed Out the Flowers? where I described the phenomenon of people trying not to stand out in society because they get taken down by other members. Watson, however, wants you to look for these “tall poppies” because these people provide us with “a network of curious and remarkable people who are hungry for interesting information and can guide our thinking.”

Carve out designated reading time

Bill Gates reads all the time but he also takes an annual “think week” each year. This reading fuels innovative thinking throughout the year. You can do something similar.

Embrace silence

Learn how to look and listen deeply. Stop talking. Start listening. Be curious all the time.” This is not a far cry from what Walter Isaacson said that Leonardo da Vinci did. Silence allows you to be an observer, and observation can reveal many things to you if you allow yourself time to see and listen.

Watson suggestsiInstead of focusing on what everyone is already talking about, hunt down unusual knowledge. This is the arena that may produce innovative ideas and relevant foresight.

Give it a try, you may surprise yourself.


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Age discrimination in today’s world

by Michael Haberman on May 17, 2018 · 1 comment


Grey hair does not mean that someone wants to retire.

In the scheme of things in the working world, I am an old man. As I approach my 67th birthday (July 7th for those of wishing to send gifts) I am continually frustrated by reading stories and listening to friends talk about incidents of age discrimination. I just recently had a friend feel compelled to remove the first decade of her working life from her resume because it dated her. We workers, over the age of forty, are protected from discrimination by the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), but even with that law, the judiciary is undecided about the scope of age discrimination.

Upper limits on experience

Everyone knows or should know, there are words that need to be avoided in job ads. A current trend in job ads or postings is to put an upper limit on the amount of experience that will be acceptable. That has actually been around for several years but seems to be gaining in popularity. A recent ruling by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals interprets these ads as having a disparate impact on workers over the age of 40. When a job posting or ad says “No more than 8 years of experience” it is basically saying “OLDER WORKERS STAY AWAY.” According to Amy Kett and Paul Skelly of Hogan Lovells, the Eleventh Circuit Court sais “that age-neutral recruiting practices that merely disparately impact older applicants do not violate the ADEA.” So two different courts have differing opinions.

Many reasons

There are many reasons given for putting in upper limits in job ads. The most common is that people with that level of experience cost more. There is some truth to that, but that is not the entire story. There is an expectation that an older worker will have higher salary requirements, but that is not always the case. In today’s world of second, third and fourth careers, many workers are re-inventing themselves. They are venturing out into new areas and subsequently have much more reasonable salary expectations. In other situations perhaps that worker is financially capable of taking a lower salary in order to do something they find interesting.

However, I often think that the wage cost reason is just a guise to avoid having older workers. Many younger managers have problems in managing older workers, be they reasons of authority, respect, feeling like they are being judged by someone their parent’s age, or just a “fit in the younger culture” reason.

Reasonable Factors Other than Age

In 2012 the EEOC issued a ruling on Reasonable Factors Other than Age, or RFOA. The EEOC said “…the ADEA prohibits practices that, although facially neutral with regard to age, have the effect of harming older workers more than younger workers (known as “disparate impact”), unless the employer can show that the practice is based on an RFOA.” The EEOC does provide a list of factors that should be considered in assessing “reasonableness”. These are:

  • The extent to which the factor is related to the employer’s stated business purpose;
  • The extent to which the employer defined the factor accurately and applied the factor fairly and accurately, including the extent to which managers and supervisors were given guidance or training about how to apply the factor and avoid discrimination;
  • The extent to which the employer limited supervisors’ discretion to assess employees subjectively, particularly where the criteria that the supervisors were asked to evaluate are known to be subject to negative age-based stereotypes;
  • The extent to which the employer assessed the adverse impact of its employment practice on older workers; and
  • The degree of the harm to individuals within the protected age group, in terms of both the extent of the injury and the numbers of persons adversely affected, and the extent to which the employer took steps to reduce the harm, in light of the burden of undertaking such steps.

Many employers have a tendency to want to hire younger workers because of the misguided notion the younger worker will stay longer. In reality, a younger worker starting out on their career will often consider moving to another job in order to improve their situation. An older worker will have a tendency to stay longer. A sixty-year-old may stay 10 years, whereas a younger worker may only stay three years.

Sometimes an employer will make the assumption that the older worker is just looking for a place to retire. Indeed, that may be true for some, but for many, it is not. They are looking for a place that will provide them with a challenge. Retirement at age sixty-five no longer exists. The age at which an older worker can get full Social Security benefits is now beyond age 65 and increasing every year. Older workers are healthier than in the past. Plus, retirement can be boring.

Don’t reject someone on the basis of their age

Rejecting someone on the basis of their age being older than forty is not only illegal, it is short-sighted. You may be rejecting someone who can bring insight and work ethic to your job that you might not be able to find with younger candidates. You may be surprised with the skill set an older worker brings to the job. Make sure you are making good business decisions and not biased ones.


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FLSA violations can result in prison sentences and not just fines.

In a press release from early May, the USDOL announced that a conclusion had been reached in a case reaching back to 2009. According to the release:

The U.S. District Court for the District of New Hampshire has sentenced Kevin Corriveau, owner, and operator of Kevin Corriveau Painting Inc. of Nashua, to six months imprisonment; two years of supervised release, post-imprisonment; and a $25,000 criminal fine for one count of obstruction of justice….Corriveau pled guilty on Dec. 15, 2017, to obstructing two U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division (WHD) investigations and a subsequent civil lawsuit filed by the Department of Labor’s Office of the Solicitor for alleged violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). In his plea, Corriveau admitted that he caused an employee of his company to provide false information to WHD investigators in 2009 and 2011 and knowingly created and provided fraudulent information to the Department of Labor attorneys in 2013 in connection with the civil suit.

In a related case, Sharon Mercuri, the company treasurer, and office manager pled guilty and was fined $10,000 on Dec. 21, 2017, for two counts of criminally violating the FLSA, including willfully failing to pay proper overtime and knowingly making a materially false statement in connection with the WHD’s investigation.

The company had been investigated for not paying wages properly. They had not paid wages due of $200,000. In covering this action up, and in lying to the USDOL attorneys, the owner ended up paying a much heavier price. The owner discovered that improper FLSA actions may result in more than just a fine and back pay.

Previous action   

In previous action taken by the DOL, the department had resolved the original civil action by obtaining a consent judgment that orders Corriveau, and fellow defendants Brian Corriveau and Sharon Mercuri, to pay $427,300 — $213,650 and an equal amount in liquidated damages — to 157 employees who were denied payment of overtime and/or minimum wage. One worker who was retaliated against received $10,000 in compensatory and punitive damages. The order also prohibited the defendants, from violating the FLSA’s anti-retaliation provisions and prevented them from threatening to report any employee to immigration authorities to inhibit employees’ rights under the FLSA.

Better to fess up and pay up

In this particular case the defendants learned that when caught making mistakes or in wrong-doing, it is better to face the music and make things right. In trying to hide and cover up their actions, this management team paid personally both financially and with jail time. Don’t make the same mistake.


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Two News Items of Interest to HR

by Michael Haberman on May 15, 2018 · 0 comments


Two items of interest to HR

The arena of human resources is not a static one. Rather, one of the main challenges for people in the profession is the fact that rules, regulations, and practices are changing all the time. In that vein, I have several things in the news of which you need to be aware.

Exempt salary level

Back in 2016 the salary level to be considered to be an exempt employee was supposed to change to $47,476 per year. That was going to be the minimum salary level for anyone to be considered an exempt employee. As we all know that got stopped in the court system and remains stopped today. The USDOL had originally thought they would publish a new salary level in September 2018. They just announced they would issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in January of 2019. There was speculation this would delay actual implementation of a new salary level until 2020. That is only a year and a half away, so you could be working on what you will have to do. I would suggest that you consider a salary level of $35,000 and make your plans accordingly.

Legislation introduced to get rid of “right-to-work”

Former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, who was and is back heavily by unions, has introduced legislation aimed at making it easier for workers to unionize. Buried in this bill, however, is a proposal to amend the NLRA to eliminate the ability for a state to enact “right-to-work” legislation, which allows workers to choose to not belong to a union, even when a union represents other workers in the company. Twenty-eight states have this written into their constitutions, but Sanders wants that stripped from the NLRA. Sanders, who gets 70% of his support from unions, obviously is paying the piper with this proposed legislation. In my opinion, this bill has little chance of success, just on the state’s right issue alone.

Keep alert for these items and others. The USDOL is also looking at changing the definition of the “regular rate” of pay we all have to use. They are also looking at changing some child labor definitions that could free up some apprenticeship opportunities for 16 and 17-year-olds.


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If you require the overtime, pay the overtime

by Michael Haberman May 14, 2018

Tweet I am amazed sometimes at the things employers will do to avoid paying overtime. If this is done unintentionally, it is a sign of ignorance and lack of proper understanding of the requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act. If this is done intentionally this falls into the category of wage theft. Below is […]

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Future Friday: Why can’t we teach collaboration?

by Michael Haberman May 11, 2018

Tweet Reading an article on megatrends in the job market I came across a statement that said “But I’m convinced that the future belongs to women. Why? Because they tend to possess the human characteristics that will give them the advantage in the new jobs of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Like the capacity for collaboration […]

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13 Ways to Detect Substance Abuse in the Workplace: A guest post

by Michael Haberman May 10, 2018

Tweet Alcohol and drug use in the workplace isn’t something to take lightly. Serious harm can occur to your property and staff if an affected employee causes an argument or accident. Promises, a treatment center for drug and alcohol addiction, states that over 70% of all substance abusers in the United States have at least […]

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Uncertainty and the ACA in 2019

by Michael Haberman May 9, 2018

Tweet I seldom write about the Affordable Care Act and the subject of insurance. It is just not my thing. But I read an article in Modern Healthcare, written by healthcare reporter Shelby Livingston, that indicated that the year 2019 may be very expensive. Double-digit premium increases Insurance companies are starting to put in requests […]

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Best Blogs of 2018

by Michael Haberman May 8, 2018

Tweet It is always nice to be recognized for the work you do. One of the ways that happens if you are a blog writer is to appear on a list of “The Best of”. I had that good fortune recently and was selected for a second time by FitSmallBusiness.com. As their editors state: We’ve […]

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Fire that employee for complaining about wages at your own peril revisited

by Michael Haberman May 7, 2018

Tweet I read an article about a cocktail waitress who was fired for “not getting along with management” because she complained in an employee meeting about uniforms, the cold temperature, a lack of benefits, and reduced pay for special events. Management must have thought she was a pain, so they fired her two days later. […]

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