Content tagged “Employee”

Millennials want an office that feels like home

While many companies allow employees to work from home, others are feeling the pressure to bring more home to the office to meet the needs of the millennial generation.

The dreaded performance review

Chances are you've never heard someone say they are excited about having a performance review. Although the style, format and timing of a formal appraisal of your work vary from company to company, the feeling of dread reviews can bring about for both employees and managers is almost universal.

The perfect home office

When Christopher Boggs and his wife built their house in 2012, a home office was a key component in the design.

15 things we do at work that say, 'I don't care'

We care deeply about our clients, employees and co-workers. Of course we do. But if we're like most people in the workplace, we may occasionally do (or not do) things that send the wrong signal.

Moving up

Fonda Funderburk has been promoted to senior vice president of the Bank of Zachary. She is the manager of retail operations for the bank, overseeing all front-line activities. Funderburk is also a lending officer, primarily in consumer loans. She has been with the Bank of Zachary for 32 years, starting as a teller in 1982. Also, Kim McDonald has been promoted to vice president of the bank. She is the electronic banking manager, a position she assumed in 2013 after several years as manager of the Central branch. She first worked for the Bank of Zachary while a student at Zachary High, but began her current tenure in 2008. McDonald has more than 20 years of experience in the financial services industry. Additionally, Donna Brown and Jeree Chaney have been promoted to assistant vice presidents. Brown works in the bank's accounting division. She started her career at the bank in 2002 as a teller, most recently serving as an assistant cashier. Chaney is a loan officer, primarily in...

How do I handle a workplace bully?

Workplace bullying isn't limited to the extremes of verbal abuse or physical violence. Intimidation, humiliation and interfering with another employee's work all fall into the category of bullying. Managers and supervisors don't have to overlook such situations. In fact, having a strict policy defining bullying and its consequences is a good first step to maintaining a positive work environment. Read more advice on the topic, offered by three human resources professionals when asked, "How do I handle a workplace bully?"

'Business Report': Local executives share advice on reversing a negative office atmosphere

Most people would like to have a good relationship with their supervisors and co-workers. They want a job where they look forward to starting their shift. The payoff is that creating a positive work environment can lead to getting the most out of your employees. As Business Report notes in a feature from the current issue, the good news is management sets the tone. The magazine asked three area professionals—Robin Schooling, managing director and strategist at Silver Zebras; Karen Breaux, human resources manager at Postlethwaite & Netterville; and Eileen Wilcox, human resources manager at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana—to answer the question: "How do I turn around a negative atmosphere in the office into a positive one?" Schooling says there may be any number of reasons why there's a "gloomy vibe" in the workplace, but that you need to find the root of the problem if you're ever going to be able to address it. That requires honesty. "You can't operate on...

How do I turn a negative atmosphere in the office into a positive one?

Most people would like to have a good relationship with their supervisors and co-workers. They want a job where they look forward to starting their shift. The payoff is that creating a positive work environment can lead to getting the most out of your employees. The good news is management sets the tone. We asked three area professionals to answer the question, "How do I turn around a negative atmosphere in the office into a positive one?"

What's the best way to fire an employee?

"I managed a dental office for 25 years. Very often individuals would apply with a lot of words but not with matching skills. After realizing investing in an employee is a lost cause, I'd let him or her go. I simply said, Your skills don't match this job. You have way too much potential to limit yourself to doing the same thing day after day. Dentistry is highly regimented; you have to do the same procedures exactly in the same time frame. That is not who you are; you are imaginative and creative.' Instead of finding fault with the person, I found fault with the job."
Vallan Corbett, Independent banking professional

Moving out

Come September, CB&I is relocating some local employees to the company's administrative headquarters in The Woodlands, Texas.

How can I attract and retain good staff when I don't have big bucks to offer them?

Think you're destined to lose your business's rising star to another company that can offer a higher salary? We asked three local executives for their advice on how to attract and retain good staff when you don't have the big bucks to offer them.

Labor & wages

The Baton Rouge area is a thriving, growing and dynamic community that offers numerous operating advantages to current and future employers. The nine-parish region's workforce is well trained and skilled in a variety of sectors. Employers also report a solid work ethic and high productivity among employees.

La. among just five states without a minimum wage

Louisiana lawmakers have already killed a pair of bills this legislative session that would have set a minimum wage in the state for the first time. One of the bills would have set the minimum at $8.25 an hour, and the other would have put it at it $10. That leaves Louisiana as just one of five states in the country that doesn't have a minimum wage, according to 24/7 Wall St., a Delaware-based financial news and opinion website. The four other states that have not adopted a state minimum are Alabama, Mississippi, South Carolina and Tennessee. By federal law, states may establish their own minimum wage levels; however, if the state minimum is different from the federal minimum, the higher wage rate applies. So why wouldn't a state want to set a minimum wage, or why would they set one that is lower than the federal minimum of $7.25 (as is the case in four states: Arkansas, Georgia, Minnesota and Wyoming)? In a word, says 24/7 Wall St., politics. "Business owners and lobbyists prevailed...

Registration ends Friday for 'Best Places to Work' awards

Time is running out for your company to register to see if it qualifies as one of the "Best Places to Work" in the Capital Region. Registration closes tomorrow, Friday, May 9. Business Report is partnering with the Greater Baton Rouge Society for Human Resource Management and the Louisiana Workforce Commission to present the new awards program. Local employers who register to participate will receive a business resource that helps them find out what their employees think of their workplace as well as which workplaces in the community employees say they like best. Participating local employers will be given the opportunity to engage their workforce in a professional research survey conducted by Best Companies Group, a national firm. Employees will be asked about subjects such as leadership and planning, corporate culture and communications, training and development, work environment, and other topics relevant to the success of any business. Participation in the online survey is...

BRAC speaker: Women accomplishing more than ever, but hurdles persist

While women are accomplishing more than ever in today's business world, there still seem to be limits on their success, says U.S. Chamber of Commerce Center for Women in Business Executive Director Roberta Zenn Phillips, who was the keynote speaker at a BRAC Signature Speaker event today. To better inform the business community on how to reflect gender balance among executive officer positions and boards, the CWB has created a "practical guide" identifying the best practices of 12 Fortune 1,000 companies that have a history of promoting women at the executive and board levels. Phillips shared the findings from the report, titled "Advancing Women to the Top," at today's lunch event and highlighted common themes among the 12 companies studied. She noted that gender diversity is often personal for the CEO, and so companies with leaders who are passionate about advancing women are more effective at doing so. Phillips also emphasized the importance of a diverse, inclusive and...

La. lawmakers differ on how to address gender pay gap

Democrats in Louisiana want to make unintentional pay discrimination based on gender illegal for private businesses, a move they believe will help bridge the wage gap. Republicans think the move is unnecessary and will only expose businesses to more lawsuits. On average, Louisiana women make about 67 cents for every $1 men make, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The Associated Press reports the state already bans intentional pay discrimination, but only state government workers are protected from unintentional pay discrimination under the Equal Pay for Women Act, which became law last year. Sen. Karen Peterson, D-New Orleans, proposes to expand the law to private employers. According to Julie Schwam Harris, of Legislative Agenda for Women, proving unintentional discrimination requires only evidence that an employer is paying employees unequally for the same work, whereas intentional discrimination requires a tougher legal standard. "How do you prove what is on someone's mind?" she...

La. Workforce Education Initiative raising money to study, promote Jump Start

While a bill that addresses workforce readiness through a new career diploma program called Jump Start is making its way through the Legislature, a new nonprofit organization led by local business leaders to support and promote the program is getting down to business. The Louisiana Workforce Education Initiative says it has raised more than $45,000 since its creation and has hired Baton Rouge-based Southern Media & Opinion Research to begin doing field research that will form the basis of a three-year marketing campaign. Later this month, Southern Media will conduct a statewide poll of 800 residents to learn about the mostly negative perceptions of two-year degree programs and the craft and technical jobs associated with them. "This will be the basis for a statewide media effort to educate and overcome those barriers and stigmas," says Jeff Wright, who is working with the initiative. "Once we have a...

Survey: 'Business Report' wants to share your tips for firing an employee

Letting an employee go is never an easy task, no matter what the circumstances. But there are some steps you can take to make the process go as smoothly as possible. What one tip would you offer to other managers in firing an employee for cause? Business Report wants to know. Send the magazine no more than 75 words, and include your name, job title and a high-resolution photograph. We'll feature the best replies in a future issue of Business Report. Email all tips to penny@businessreport.com. Deadline is noon on Friday.

How do I keep employee expense accounts from being abused?

From inflating acceptable expenses to claiming non-business-related items, abuse of employee expense accounts is not a unique way to dip into the company's profits.

Surveys available for local businesses interested in 'Best Places to Work' awards

Business Report is partnering with the Greater Baton Rouge Society for Human Resource Management and the Louisiana Workforce Commission to discover the best places to work in the Capital Region. This new awards program will provide local employers a business resource that helps them find out what employees think of their workplace and to identify the workplaces employees say they like best. Participating local employers will be given the opportunity to engage their workforce in a professional research survey conducted by Best Companies Group, a national firm. Employees will be asked about subjects such as leadership and planning, corporate culture and communications, training and development, work environment and other topics relevant to the success of any business. Participation in the online survey is free. Best Companies Group will evaluate the surveys, and leading companies will be ranked and recognized in the pages of Business Report and honored at an awards...

How to maximize LinkedIn

So you've completed your LinkedIn profile, made connections with everyone you know and even boast a few coveted endorsements to your credit. What now?

'Business Report': The importance of employee onboarding

Many professionals share the experience of having shown up for their first day of work only to find their new company isn't quite prepared to welcome them. Maybe a desk hasn't been cleared, or a computer ordered; in some cases, management is too busy even to sit down and discuss job responsibilities. If you never get a second chance to make a first impression, then these employers have blown it. "That person can feel very disconnected," Jennifer Adcock, a partner with Excelerant who has more than 10 years of human resource experience, tells Business Report contributing writer Erin Z. Bass for a feature in the magazine’s current issue. "It's very important that on that first day, everybody is prepared for this person, everybody's expecting this person to come in, and everybody's on the same page about their role in helping this person leave thinking they made the right decision." In Adcock's world, this is called employee onboarding. She's helped companies document their...

Getting ahead of the boom

A playlist of the challenges and opportunities the coming industrial construction boom poses was laid out at a recent symposium in which veterans of previous upturns in the industrial sector told war stories and cautionary tales to a crowd of several hundred industrial contractors, suppliers, educators, lawyers and financiers.

Welcome aboard

Many professionals share the experience of having shown up for their first day of work only to find their new company isn't quite prepared to welcome them. Maybe a desk hasn't been cleared, or a computer ordered; in some cases, management is too busy even to sit down and discuss job responsibilities.

Moving up

Wendy Lee and Giuseppe "Joe" Saffiotti have been named principals of Coleman Partners Architects. Lee has been with the firm for 15 years and has most recently served as the associate managing the Houston office. Saffiotti has 18 years of experience with Coleman Partners, serving as associate in its Baton Rouge office for the past 10 years. This new leadership brings the total number of principals at Coleman to six.

'Business Report' launches 'Best Places to Work' awards program

Business Report is partnering with GBRSHRM (Greater Baton Rouge Society for Human Resource Management) to discover the best places to work in the Capital Region. This new awards program will provide local employers a business resource that helps them find out what employees think of their workplace and to identify the workplaces employees say they like best. "We are excited to partner with SHRM and bring this new program to businesses in the Baton Rouge area. A great work environment is crucial to recruiting and retaining talent and productivity, which is essential to growth and success. It's a competitive advantage," says Rolfe McCollister, publisher of Business Report. Participating local employers will be given the opportunity to engage their workforce in a professional research survey conducted by Best Companies Group, a national firm. Employees will be asked about subjects such as leadership and planning, corporate culture and communications, training and...

LABI announces new hires in light of Coates' retirement

After 19 years as the director of LABI's Civil Justice Reform Council, Jonica Coates announced today that she will retire by the end of the month. Will Green, who previously served as an assistant attorney general to the Louisiana Workforce Commission, has been hired by LABI to succeed Coates as Civil Justice Reform Council director and also serve as the director of the Employee Relations Council, LABI says in a press release. Other new hires announced by LABI today include Courtney Baker, who will serve as the director of the Technology Advocacy; Trade, Tourism and Transportation; and Government Reform councils. Baker most recently served as the legislative liaison for the Department of Children and Family Services. Other LABI staff changes include the promotions of Renee Amar—director of the Small Business Council—to serve as the Political Action Committee Deputy; and Brigitte Nieland—director of the Education Reform Council—to coordinate LABI's Program of...

What's your favorite hiring question?

MAC FREEMAN
Sales manager, Tindall Corp.
"The way a person keeps their car is typically how they will keep their office and affairs. Is it neat? Is it well maintained? Are there items that indicate advance planning (safety kit, flashlight, a spare tire)? Are the legal requirements in place (inspection sticker and tag)? Are there reference books or books on tape? And lastly, are there odd smells, like cigarettes, liquor, old takeout, or 'herb'?"

How do I find the right person to fill a position?

Given the high cost of employee turnover, experts agree that having the right people in place is one of most important roles of a manager or business owner. But how do you identify talent, ask the right questions and make the right decisions when it comes to filling an open position? We asked three human resources professionals to share their advice.

Share of La. unionized workers drops back to all-time low in 2013

Of the roughly 1.73 million workers in Louisiana, approximately 75,000 of them belonged to a union in 2013, while another roughly 20,000 in the state were represented by a union or covered by an employee association while not being actual union members. That's according to new data released today by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which shows that the share of Louisiana workers who are union members dropped to 4.3% last year—down from 6.2% in 2012, when roughly 107,000 Louisianans belonged to a union. "The 2013 union membership rate matched 2010, with both years marking the lowest rates on record since the series inception in 1989," reads a press release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The U.S. average union membership rate was 11.3% of all workers in 2013, unchanged from the year previous. Highlights of the national report show public sector workers had a union membership rate (35.3%) more than five times higher than that of private-sector workers (6.7%). Louisiana...

'Business Report' looking for your best job interview questions

You have 10 qualified candidates vying for one position. How do you find the one that's right? Often, it's the interview. Business Report is searching for the best of the best questions from those who do the hiring in the Capital Region. Send the magazine your favorite question that helps you distinguish the job seekers from the job getters, along with an explanation of why it works. Include your name, title and a high-resolution photograph of yourself. We'll feature the best ones in a future issue of Business Report. Email all replies to Penny@businessreport.com. The deadline is noon on Friday.

Getting engaged

Here's a startling number: Just 37% of Louisiana workers are engaged and inspired by their jobs.

How do women become effective leaders and great bosses?

In Gallup's latest Work and Education Survey, men edge out women as the type of boss preferred by 35% of working Americans.

Some La. employers accept 'cyberloafing' as inevitable part of workday

Nationally, businesses and organizations seem worried about employees wasting company time on the Internet, but The News-Star of Monroe says major employers in northeastern Louisiana report an acceptance of cyberloafing. MacmillanDictionary.com defines “cyberloafing” as "using the Internet where you work, during work hours, for activities which are not work-related." Cyberloafing then is a form of time theft in which employees "steal" time, using minutes purchased by an employer without providing any service for their earnings during those minutes. Theoretically, the minutes add up. A 2012 Salary.com survey indicated that 64% of participants "said they visit non-work related websites every day during work hours." Thirty-two percent of participants admitted to spending two or more hours on such websites every week. But CenturyLink, the University of Louisiana at Monroe and the City of West Monroe all allow employees to browse the Internet as they please. The City of...

Industry, government officials tout partnerships to meet skilled workforce challenge

Officials who spoke at LABI's annual meeting today agreed that filling the skilled workforce shortage anticipated in Louisiana over the coming years will require collaboration among business, education and government leaders. "We're all in this together, whether we realize it or not," said Curt Eysink, who directs the Louisiana Workforce Commission. Eysink touted the state's craft workforce development plan, created by industry leaders working with the state. "We've got the plan licked," he said. "We don't have the work licked." Richard Koubek, dean of the LSU College of Engineering, said workforce development no longer has the negative connotation in academia it once did, noting that IBM flew in international experts to help LSU develop curricula in big data and data analytics. Louisiana Education Superintendent John White stressed the importance of implementing higher expectations...

LABI panel examines leadership roles for women in business

LABI Chair Maura Donahue highlighted the growing influence women have in the business world at the outset of a panel discussion on Louisiana women in the global economy Tuesday afternoon, an event that served as the official kickoff to LABI's annual meeting. "There are 8.3 million women-owned businesses in this country. Those businesses generate $1.3 trillion in revenue and employ 7.7 million people," Donahue said, adding, "The number of women-owned businesses is growing by 1.5 times the national average." And yet less than 15% of executive officers in Fortune 500 companies and only 22 of the 500 CEOs are women, she reminded the audience. The importance of education dominated the panel discussion. AT&T Louisiana President Sonia Perez stressed the need for companies to offer affordable education opportunities to employees, such as online master's programs. "It's not important where you go, it's that you go," Perez advised women. They were joined by panelists Sandra Woodley, University...

LABI outlines plan to address La. skilled worker shortage

In advance of its annual meeting on Wednesday, LABI has released a paper outlining its approach to addressing one of the greatest challenges facing the state: the need for an estimated 86,000 new craft workers in the state by 2016. More than $60 billion in new and expanded projects have been announced for Louisiana in recent years, and LABI notes economists expect the state to surpass the 2 million jobs mark for the first time in its history sometime next year. "The coming industrial expansion will build upon decades of anecdotal complaints confirmed by studies that Louisiana has an inadequate and under-prepared workforce," reads the paper. "In a recent survey, more than one-third of 3,000 employers in Louisiana cited an inability to find qualified, skilled or experienced applicants as the greatest difficulty in filling open positions. This deficit of knowledge, skills and talent slows and inhibits growth, putting billions of projects nationally at risk." To address the problem, LABI...

The ethical workplace

Each year, nearly half of all U.S. employees report witnessing unethical or illegal conduct in their workplace, much of which goes unreported and unaddressed.

Eight former workers sue 'Times-Picayune' and parent company

Eight former employees of The Times-Picayune have sued the newspaper and parent Advance Publications Inc., alleging their layoffs violated a longstanding "job security pledge" and age discrimination laws. The Associated Press reports the plaintiffs were 46 to 59 years old when they lost jobs ranging from warehouse worker to reporter in June and September 2012. They either were not allowed to apply or applied unsuccessfully for lower-paid replacement jobs, according to lawsuits filed on Wednesday and Friday last week in Orleans Parish Civil District Court. Times-Picayune publisher Ricky Mathews did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the AP. The plaintiffs are: Keith Catalanotto, 53; Patricia Gonzalez, 59; Aileen Kelly, 50; Vivian Hernandez, 50; Jeanne Woods, 60; Ulpiano Lugo, 50; Stephanie Stroud Naylor, 47; and Patricia Pitt, 49. All the plaintiffs said they relied on a longstanding company pledge not to fire non-union workers because of economic or...

Every second counts

Editor's note: This column was provided to Daily Report by the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry (LABI).

IBM exec sums up first six months in ‘friendly’ Baton Rouge

In the nearly six months since IBM opened a business services center in Baton Rouge in a temporary office suite on Essen Lane, the company has hired more than 100 employees, most of them from Baton Rouge and all but a handful from Louisiana. That level of hiring exceeds the benchmark IBM guaranteed the state, says Dima Ghawi, manager of talent development at IBM Baton Rouge Services Center, who was guest speaker of the Rotary Club of Baton Rouge today. “You would not believe the amount of work we have accomplished in the past six months," she says. Ghawi, a veteran IBM executive who has lived in several parts of the U.S. and abroad, says the service center is providing software development and support to blue chip clients around the U.S. She says the local center is working closely with LSU's College of Engineering to train students and help administrators develop a curriculum that will produce trained graduates that can go directly to industry, preferably at IBM. In keeping...

On holiday

Patrons of Magpie Café may have been surprised during the week of Thanksgiving to find the Perkins Road establishment closed for a fall vacation.

Marie Desormeaux Centanni

"I'll share two pieces of advice—one that helped me start my business and a second that's helping to guide our growth. The first was from lobbyist Randy Haynie. I visited with him after finishing grad school, and he said if the opportunity presented itself to work on a contract basis rather than as a direct employee, take it. That way, you can focus on projects that will best put your talents to use, control your workload and manage free time for your family. I also stick to something Chris Rader of Rader Solutions in Lafayette told me: Be Mary Poppins, practically perfect in every way! In other words, no matter what's going on, give clients your best self. Don't let stress from one client affect your demeanor with another. Always deliver your best work, and if you make a mistake, make it right."

Publisher: EBR must get a handle on out-of-control benefit costs

As Mayor Kip Holden and the Metro Council debate the new budget, the issue of pay raises for municipal employees is being discussed, with benefits coming under the microscope. “And rightly so,” says Business Report Publisher Rolfe McCollister. “It is out of control and needs fixing fast.” In his latest column, McCollister says paid vacation, sick days and executive leave time all need to be reviewed and revamped. While city-parish employees want to talk about the need for raises, McCollister notes a recent article in The Advocate points out that they "start by earning 12 days of sick leave and 12 days of vacation leave every year. By the 15th year of service, employees earn 24 sick and 24 vacation days per year.” Unused vacation accrues for up to five years, or 960 hours, but sick leave accumulates indefinitely, according to the report. “With holidays, one could be out with pay close to three months, or 25% of the time,”...

Holiday business etiquette

The holidays are here. For those in business, there's more to managing them than scheduling vacation days. The season brings with it some tough choices. Clients: To gift or not to gift? Employees: Fruit basket or cash bonus? And the company party: To go or not to go? Here are some tips for navigating the season with your professional reputation intact.

Face-off

The AFL-CIO recently announced plans to focus more energy and resources on Southern states. Louis Reine, the organization's state president, says unions are needed now more than ever to meet the workforce demand created by the industrial construction boom. Jim Patterson, LABI's vice president for government relations and executive director of the Louisiana Right-to-Work Committee, says Louisiana's businesses need to be wary of the encroaching union influence.

Case Study: Should I require new employees to sign a noncompete agreement?

More and more employers are requiring their new employees to sign noncompete agreements. The goal: to prevent insiders from taking trade secrets, business relationships or customer data to competing firms when they leave. But according to a report in the Wall Street Journal, the number of departing employees being sued by their former bosses for breaching the agreements has risen 61% since 2002, leaving some to worry that the clauses are having a chilling effect on entrepreneurship by discouraging people from leaving the corporate world to launch their own business. Should you as a business owner consider adopting the practice? We asked three of the Capital Region's top business attorneys for their take.

Albemarle says workforce reduction in B.R. is temporary

A previously announced companywide restructuring at Albemarle has resulted in nearly 100 combined layoffs locally at the company's corporate offices and manufacturing facility in Baton Rouge, which together employ about 600 workers. But a spokeswoman for Albemarle says the company plans to staff back up in the coming months, as the realignment from three divisions to two is implemented. "We plan on maintaining our current workforce level in Baton Rouge," says Ashley Mendoza, communications manager for Albemarle, adding that new positions would be added in R&D, sales and business development. She could not say when those positions would be added. Most of the positions that have been eliminated have been in management and more than two-thirds were "voluntary separations," she says. The others were notified last week their positions have been eliminated. Mendoza specifically denied a recent report in NOLA.com that cited unnamed sources who claimed nearly 200 positions would be...

Maximizing your time

Have you said or heard someone say, "I was busy all day, but I don't feel like I accomplished anything"? Busy does not necessarily equate with productivity.

LABI expects increased union organizing

At a national convention in September, the AFL-CIO announced plans to create a "Southern organizing strategy" in an attempt to expand in America's union-scarce South. Given the industrial construction boom expected over the next few years, Louisiana, and the building crafts in particular, likely will be an important target of those efforts. "We have become a bit complacent in Louisiana," says Jim Patterson, vice president for governmental relations with LABI and executive director of the Louisiana Right-to-Work Committee. "They haven't found a whole lot of organizing going on around them, but that is, we believe, about to change." While Patterson doesn't want to talk publicly about specific...

Women on the rise

It's a fact: Women in business are on the rise. We've all heard of Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, both of whom rocketed Wonder Woman–like through the glass ceiling to become household names.

How can I protect my business when two employees become romantically involved?

Given as much time as we all spend in the workplace, it's easy for relationships to develop. Some of them are appropriate; others are not.

Managing up

Your company is about to make a major investment and you have some serious concerns you think your boss may have overlooked. How to manage up without messing up?

Entergy layoffs to be completed in December

Entergy employees affected by companywide layoffs will be let go between now and mid-December, according to a company spokeswoman. The layoffs, which affect about 25 employees in Baton Rouge and some 250 overall in Louisiana, were announced by the company in late July as a part of an overall restructuring designed to increase efficiency and respond to changing market conditions. Since the restructuring was announced, Entergy has begun consolidating business operations that are used by multiple units within the company. It is unclear which employees or departments will be affected bty the layoffs, but an Entergy spokeswoman says no changes will be made to line operation staffing levels. "Furthermore, our goal has and always will be to safely and efficiently restore power following storms, and current storm assignments will be maintained throughout the 2013 storm season," says Molly Jahncke, a spokesperson with Entergy Louisiana. Jahncke says the layoffs are "only one of several...

Younger Americans fare poorly on worker skills, study says

U.S. baby boomers held their own against workers' skills in other industrial nations, but younger people are falling behind most of their international peers, according to a study released today that paints a gloomy picture of the nation's competitiveness and education system. The Wall Street Journal reports the study, conducted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, tested 166,000 people ages 16 to 65 and found that Americans ranked 16 out of 23 industrialized countries in literacy and 21 out of 23 in numeracy. Both those tests have been given periodically, and while U.S. results have held steady for literacy, they have dropped for numeracy. In a new test of "problem-solving in technology-rich environments," the U.S. ranked 17 out of 19. "These findings should concern us all. They show our education system hasn't done enough to help Americans compete—or position our country to lead—in a global economy that demands increasingly higher...

Exxon to offer benefits to same-sex couples in U.S.

Exxon Mobil Corp. announced today that it will begin offering benefits to legally married same-sex couples in the U.S. for the first time starting next week. The company says it will recognize "all legal marriages" when it determines eligibility for health care plans for the company's 77,000 employees and retirees in the U.S. That means if a gay employee has been married in a state or country where gay marriage is legal—which does not include Louisiana—his or her spouse will be eligible for benefits with Exxon in the U.S. as of Oct. 1. Exxon, which is facing a same-sex discrimination lawsuit in Illinois, says it is following the lead of the U.S. government. In June, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, which had allowed states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages granted in other states. In recent months, federal agencies have begun to offer benefits to legally-married same sex couples. "We haven't changed our eligibility criteria. It has...

The breaking point

Brian Rodriguez starts getting tired. His mind begins to wander and he can't seem to focus. Recognizing the symptoms, he knows burnout is coming on. Experience has taught him that he can't just push through.

The big deal

The news took Wall Street—and the Capital City—by surprise.

Office furniture evolving to offset unhealthy effects of sitting too much

One of the Pennington Biomedical Research Center's latest studies deserves a standing ovation from all of the deskbound 9-to-5ers in the working world. According to Pennington's recently-published research in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, sitting time—as little as 4 hours at a stretch—is significantly associated with adverse levels of waist circumference, body mass index, and HDL cholesterol levels, to name a few of the health risks. Amanda Staiano, a postdoctoral research fellow at Pennington and an author of the study, says sitting has become a hot topic as of late. "It's really started blowing up in the literature in the past couple of decades. But this is one of the first papers to come out to show that not only are people sitting a lot, but people who sit a lot have worse health profiles," Staiano says. The study notably found that even physically active participants, like...

A few surprises

How would you like it if the federal government required everyone in America to buy your industry's product? Sounds pretty sweet, right?

Nine firms make Inc. Magazine list of fastest-growing firms in U.S.

Of the 10 Baton Rouge-based companies that have landed on Inc. magazine's just-released list of the 5,000 fastest-growing firms in the country, construction firm Arkel International is the highest ranked, at No. 1,891. Companies are ranked according to the average percent revenue increase over the past three years. Arkel's revenue of $43.9 million last year represented a 201% increase over the past three years. In addition to the 10 firms from Baton Rouge, 27 others from around Louisiana are also on the list, including Geismar-based Bengal Transportation at No. 2,659. New Orleans-based Hernandez Consulting is the fastest-growing company in the state, according to the Inc. 5000 list, which places it No. 526 overall—with an 867% increase in revenue to $16.8 million. Other Baton Rouge firms on the list include:
• Resource Environmental Solutions, No. 2,126 (175% increase to $24.9 million)

The gold standard of service

We've all seen the well-worn proclamations taped to the wall near the front counter of a business: "The customer is king," or "The customer is always right."

Entergy: Layoffs won't impact post-storm response

Although Entergy is undergoing a "comprehensive redesign" that involves trimming about 800 positions—or about 5% of its 15,000 employees—the people who come to your neighborhood in the bucket trucks after an outage won't be among the casualties. That's according to Phillip May, president and CEO of Entergy Louisiana and Entergy Gulf States Louisiana, who was questioned about the layoffs by the Louisiana Public Service Commission today. "We don't want an adequate response," says PSC Chairman Eric Skrmetta. "We want the finest response we can get." Entergy's response after Hurricane Isaac last year has been both praised and harshly criticized by public officials. May says mostly back-office positions will be eliminated and the cuts won't slow down Entergy's response to a crisis. Of the 240 Louisiana positions to be cut, only 25 are in Baton Rouge; most are in New Orleans. Some of those positions are not currently filled, and some will be eliminated through normal attrition,...