Are You Ready To Retire? Learn From History: By Dr. Harsh K. Luthar

I recall a discussion with a colleague in late 2007 about retirement. He was preparing to make that transition in a couple of years. Unfortunately, the stock market started to slide when he was about a year away from retirement.

The market crashed on September 29, 2008. The decline continued and, by the end of 2008, Dow was down to 8,776. Naturally this dramatic decline in the market created serious challenges for people who were close to retirement and had most of their pension in stocks.

We have now entered August of 2017. August and September have historically been the worst months for stocks. This year, increasing international tensions and the potential for a serious conflict between U.S. and North Korea will add further uncertainties to the financial markets.

Although no one can predict the future, it is important that businesses educate their employees on the basics of risk management when it comes to their financial portfolios. HR departments can and should play an important role in preparing their employees to weather all types of market conditions. Ultimately, we are all responsible for educating ourselves on how to best navigate through turbulent and challenging times.

 

Working at Google is a Privilege and not a Right: By Dr. Harsh K. Luthar

One of the fundamental points I make to my HR students is this. In the United States, the First Amendment does not apply to the relationship between employees and employers in the private sector.

The first Amendment does protect the public’s right to free speech. Therefore, people in the United States are free to express a diversity of views and opinions on political, economic, social, and other matters.  Every young person joining the workforce should be taught that the freedom to speak one’s mind in the workplace is not unlimited.

Of course, every employer is obligated to comply with Federal, State, and Local laws in the United States. However, within that framework, an employer has the right to enforce standards and rules of conduct it views as consistent with its values and the corporate culture.

A Google employee learned this basic HR lesson the hard way recently when he was fired. This employee had expressed his views that Google’s diversity efforts were destined to fail because these efforts did not take into account the biological differences between men and women. According to this employee, the gender differences made women less suitable for the engineering profession. The memo expressing these opinions was leaked to the press.

The next day, Google fired the employee. The message from the Google CEO is clear. Working at Google is not a right. It is a privilege.

Could this situation have been handled better? Possibly. But how? If a male engineer truly feels that his female colleagues are not as capable, how would that affect the company culture and spirit and the work environment? 

Perhaps the HR experts among the readers can give suggestions for alternative ways to resolve the  tension that could have been adopted by Google management.

Whether one agrees with the firing of the employee at Google or not, from an HR perspective and a legal perspective, Google was perfectly within its rights to do that.

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For details on the story, see the following link from NYT.