The West Virginia Chamber of Commerce has several initiatives planned for this year’s Legislative session, divided among categories such as education, government, health care, taxation and business development. Its legislative agenda takes a much broader look at the state’s business climate.
As they prepare for the session, one of the key components of discussion will be drugs in the workplace. The Drug-Free Workplace Act would allow all private employers, at their option, to implement drug-free workplace programs which include random drug tests without the requirement that random testing be limited to safety sensitive jobs. The statewide chamber will again join several other groups in asking for an intermediary court of appeals.
The Act states that:
“West Virginians are more likely to die from drug overdoses than people in any other state,according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. In fact, drug overdoses and other poisonings killed more West Virginians than motor vehicle accidents in 2007.”
“One in five of the national workforce who die on the job test positive fordrugs or alcohol. As many as 15 percent of all employees in the mining and constructionindustries and one in ten of employees in other industries have admitted to either heavy alcoholor illicit drug use.”
Finally, it goes on to note:
“A Drug-Free Workplace Act will allow West Virginia’semployers to better manage the problems associated employee substance abuse.”
It’s great to see West Virginia placing such a focus on solving the issue of drugs in the workplace, and recognizing the impact that improvements can have.
We will keep our eyes open for similar implementations in some other states as we head in to 2012.
Numbers from the Federal Bureau of Investigation show an all-time one-day high for background check requests from gun buyers last Friday.
There were 129,166 requests to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS)–a third more than the previous record of 97,848 on Black Friday 2008, FBI spokesman Stephen Fischer said. On Black Friday last year, there were 87,061 requests. This shows a huge jump from last year and, considering the calls for stringent checks after the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, poses a couple of questions.
Namely, have checks become more of a requirement – hence the increase? Or is it simply the fact that more people are feeling the need to purchase a firearm?
“It was the biggest rush we ever had. Some of the people at the gate sent their kid running to the gun counter to get in line,” said Tom Ritzer, store manager at MC Sports in Springfield, Mo., which opened its doors at 5 a.m. on Black Friday. Gun buyers had to wait until NICS opened at 7 before they could leave with their purchases, he said.
Most people feel that the increase was caused by a variety of factors – the more stringent requirements surrounding checks, fear of terrorism, prisoners being released early and law enforcement being laid off just a few that were mentioned.
But Caroline Brewer, a spokeswoman for the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, said the Black Friday sales surge “might say something about marketing” but didn’t reflect actual patterns in U.S. gun ownership.
“The trend that has been observed for decades now is that fewer and fewer Americans own guns, but those who do own continue to add to their stock,” Brewer said.
She cited the University of Chicago’s General Social Survey, which found that household gun ownership hit its peak in 1977, when 54 percent of American households reported having any guns. By 2010, this
number had dropped to 32 percent.
So it seems that the third of Americans that already own guns are likely to be the main reason for the surge on Black Friday. With the day being one of deals and discounts, it is the perfect opportunity to take advantage of by those who may be affected by the poor economy.
U.S. small businesses created 55,000 jobs in November, according to Reuters. However, they also claim that employees worked fewer hours and earned less money – which highlights the fact that the job market remains weak.
Intuit, a payrolls processing company, said the increase in small business employment compared to October’s upwardly revised 60,000 count, previously reported as a 30,000 gain. The survey is based on responses from about 71,000 small businesses with fewer than 20 employees that use the Intuit Online Payroll system, and was actually based during the time period October 24th – November 23rd.
The average work week for small business employees fell 0.3 percent to 24.9 hours, while the average monthly salary slipped 0.18 percent to $2,637. ”Total compensation is down, part-time workers aren’t getting as many hours, and there are fewer hourly employees who are working full time,” said Susan Woodward, the economist who helped to develop the survey.
“Overall, this data is the best we could hope for given the uncertainty of the situation in Europe.” The government will release its closely watched employment report for November on Friday. Nonfarm payrolls likely increased 122,000, according to a Reuters survey, after rising 80,000 in October.
While it’s not all positive, it’s great to hear that jobs are being created. It is especially important to us at Mind Your Business, Inc. to know that small businesses are making a significant contribution to getting the economy back on track.
Considering the job market is pretty tough at the moment and employment remains high, many people are tempted to falsify parts of their resume in the hope it will give them an extra edge. What may seem like a small “addition” or something to “spruce up” your resume, could be an act you come to regret when the lie gets found out.
For example, many people may glorify what their role was at their previous company. While it’s fine to emphasize higher level tasks and your successes, you need to remember to ensure that your claims are verifiable. Otherwise, whether it be at the interview or further down the line, you are likely to get found out.
To help you stay on the right track, here are five tips for resume writing – how to focus on highlighting your strengths while keeping it honest and valid:
1) Explain the benefits of your skills
Merely stating that you can do something will not catch the attention of the employer. If you manage to explain how it will benefit the company, then you will greatly improve your chances.
Discuss where you have shown these skills in past roles and the success you have achieved due to it. Remain honest though – there will be plenty of characteristics and skills you can highlight while still being truthful, there is no need to make false additions.
2) Optimize your resume for each job application
It’s a great idea to have a resume template, but you should be sure to change details depending on what the opportunity is. Different jobs require different skills and experience, so highlight the relevant information for each application.
3) Get someone else to review your resume
Other people’s perspectives help. By asking someone to take a look at your resume, they may be able to identify weak areas or highlight the aspects that you might get asked about by the potential employer. This will also prepare you for any interview questions.
4) Have a clear focus
Keep it relevant to the job you are applying for and maintain a focus of the character your resume is portraying. Make sure all the information works towards a unified image of you as a potential employee.
5) Don’t lie
A key tip is – as you may have already guessed – be honest. Considering that most employers will run background checks – such as verifying your education, contacting your references and researching your past experience – it’s important t keep it valid and truthful. Not only will lies probably get found out, but trust is an integral part of any employer-employee relationship – so it is important to start off on the right foot.
Keep these tips in mind when you’re applying for jobs and you’ll be setting yourself up with a good foundation for finding employment.
Finally, and most importantly, good luck!
At Mind Your Business, Inc. we pride ourselves on our customer service, which is why we are always delighted to hear positive reviews from those who know us. We recently received a review on Merchant Circle that we wanted to share with you, as it encapsulates the work ethic we strive to live by:
“I, Kimberly, wife to Joe owner of ArchAngel (Appliance Repair), met the owner of Mind Your Business Wayyyyy back when she was just beginning her business. I was a cashier at a local grocers and going to police training at the same time. We had a great conversation and I could see how driven, knowledgeable, and savvy she was. Since then her company has grown by leaps and bounds. If you contact a company in our area and ask who to use they automatically mention Mind Your Business. Why? Because of the savvy ownership. There is something in good ownership. Actually, everything is in the ownershp and the people they choose to assist in their business. Mind Your Business has their t’s crossed and i’s dotted. We are impressed and believe in them. Look no further and let them do the looking for you. Blessings, kimberly webber young”
Merchant Circle is a site whereby we cannot pick and choose who writes our reviews, which might be an issue for businesses who focus on themselves rather than customers. But we have nothing to hide, and are confident that any customer testimonial will be positive. Feel free to check out the rest of our Merchant Circle reviews here.
MYB has had a fantastic year, with founder and CEO Karen Caruso being awarded North Carolina Business Person of the Year 2011 being a highlight. While it is always fantastic to get such awards, it is the reputation we have among our customers that really means the most to us. So a review such as the one above really does bring a smile to the MYB team and justify the hard work we put in every day.
We’ve noticed – perhaps you have to – a drop in the mainstream news in discussions about identity theft. It may have been forgotten by some, but an incident in Atlanta that has surfaced recently is evidence that it is still a prominent concern that you need to remain aware of. Here’s the story…
Mashara Williams is a successful, married architect who is eight months pregnant. She also has a perfectly clean criminal history. And up until Monday, thanks to identity theft, she also had an arrest record.
For months, Williams faced an uphill battle to clear her name after someone stole her identity back in 2008. Three years ago, a woman she had never met used her identity to buy a car, insurance and accumulate at least three traffic tickets.
Williams found out and fought back, eventually getting results. She showed 11Alive‘s Blayne Alexander a letter from the Fulton County District Attorney’s office, saying Marielle Fortune had confessed to identity theft.
She thought it was over, until she was stopped last Friday because her window tinting was too dark. But instead of a ticket, she was placed under arrest. “He was going to write me a ticket, and he comes back with handcuffs,” she said. “Once I got in the car, he told me that I was wanted, or that there was a warrant for my arrest from DeKalb County.” He said the warrant was for failure to appear in court on a traffic violation.
“I know it wasn’t me,” Williams said. “I never go into DeKalb County. I never got a ticket. I never got a notice of failure to appear. I’ve never seen any of this.” Still, she was handcuffed, booked and shuffled between three different jails. Eight months pregnant, Williams spent the night in a crowded holding cell.
Only by contacting 11Alive was she able to finally clear her name.
So what’s the lesson here?
The lesson is that we have to remain aware and show caution. Netsecurity.com offer ten fantastic tips to prevent identity theft, check them out here:
Most importantly, keep your eyes open for anything that looks amiss.
United States Senator Kay R. Hagan (NC) is promoting Small Business Saturday in public service announcements broadcast on the radio across North Carolina. Hagan has teamed up with over 200 Small Business Saturday Coalition Organizations, including Chambers of Commerce, to promote the 2nd Annual Small Business Saturday.
Similar to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the Saturday after Thanksgiving is dedicated to supporting small businesses on the busiest shopping weekend of the year.
“I encourage all North Carolinians to shop at our local small businesses,” said Hagan, a member of the Senate Small Business Committee. “My number one priority is jobs, and in North Carolina our small businesses represent more than 98 percent of North Carolina’s private sector employers. Small Business Saturday is great opportunity to support our local businesses, economic recovery and job growth.”
“Small businesses are not only an integral part of ourstate’s economy, but they also embody the entrepreneurial and innovative spirit that makes North Carolina unique. Small businesses employ nearly half of North Carolina’s workforce and are the engine behind economic recovery and job creation,” says Lew Ebert, President and CEO, North Carolina Chamber. “On behalf of the 1.26 million employees of our member companies, the North Carolina Chamber supports Small Business Saturday and encourages everyone to shop local on November 26.”
While the Small Business Saturday announcement is quite clearly directed more towards businesses that sell to consumers rather than B2B, it is great to see Hagan showing such significant support for North Carolina small businesses. In a time of economic struggle for everyone, to see a focus and determination of those in power to ensure small businesses sustain growth is fantastic.
In what is one of the most concerning news stories this year, for us and for all parents too no doubt, fox10tv revealed that teens in Alabama are drinking bleach in an attempt to pass drug tests. The effects of drinking bleach can, of course, be deadly, so it is shocking to hear that teenagers are considering this a viable option for trying to stay out of trouble.
“As far as kids go, if they fail a drug test, they get kicked off the team. A probationer – over at the probation office – they go back to jail. An employee, if they fail a drug test they may lose their job,” said Mahoney.
While there are many apparent techniques to passing a drug test – a quick search in your browser will bring up a plethora of results – it is some incidents recently that are a real cause for concern.
“We have had cases where they have ingested straight bleach, and it caused significant damage to their body,” said Mahoney. Household bleach strips chemicals and odors from surfaces and fabrics, so you can only imagine what it does when consumed. ”It can eat away at your esophagus and enough of it can cause death,” said Mahoney.
“There is more emphasis on drug testing in school, especially with sporting events and things like that, but there should be education to these Juveniles. You need to say ‘Yes, we are going to drug test and don’t try to mask it because if you do, you’re going to harm your body and this is what can happen,’” said Mahoney.
Mahoney said wreaking havoc on your insides is all bleach will do. Drug tests have gotten sophisticated and can determine the presence of foreign chemicals. ”Specific gravity tests will let us know the urine is not just pure urine coming from the body or if these other compounds are present or if there is a tremendous amount of water in the system where they’ve tried to flush the system”.
Mahoney makes a very good point – it’s about educating individuals on why tests are being performed and the negative effects drug abuse can have. Trying to falsify drug test results is not only a waste of effort, but can also have deadly consequences.
If you see someone drinking bleach, call poison control immediately or take them to the hospital. There is one way to pass a drug test: steer clear of illegal substances.
As all entrepreneurs know, it’s no easy task running a successful business. With so much to think about and so many things to keep an eye on, one of the aspects of running a business people forget is how to protect it.
Protect it from what? Primarily, unnecessary risks from poor hiring decisions. Making a bad hire can cause a multitude of problems, from bringing down the morale of the company and losing productivity, to criminal acts in your workplace and abuse.
So we’ve come up with five simple steps that we believe you can take during the hiring process, which will allow you to focus on creating and maintaining business success, without having to worry about what might be going on behind the scenes.
1. Run background checks
A key part of ensuring your hires are the type of people you want as a part of your business, it’s important to run a background check. There are many different types of background check, so be sure you are picking the most relevant ones to your business. A background check on an applicant may pick up on some negative information about them, which could certainly save you from problems in the long term.
2. Check references
In this economy, many people are unemployed and desperate for work. One of the principle ways that applicants “spruce up” their resume is to provide false references. Make sure that their references are verifiable, and the people they list are trustworthy.
3. Perform a drug test
According to statistics from recent studies on drug abuse by American workers, workplace drug and alcohol use costs U.S. businesses an estimated $100 billion each year. The cost of drugs in the workplace is severe, so to avoid potential damage it is always a good idea to drug test applicants. By doing this, you are ensuring that any new hires will be reliable and productive workers.
4. Categorize levels of security
It may sound very government-esque, but by choosing and allocating levels of security for staff, you are protecting yourself from potential risk. For example, certain client information should only be available to certain employees. As will be the case with confidential financial information. As you bring in a new hire, think to yourself – what should (and shouldn’t) this individual have access to?
5. Be consistent
Performing all the above as a one-off is a good start, but how do you protect yourself on a continued basis? By being consistent and running the above checks regularly. Just because someone doesn’t have a criminal record when they start working at your business, that doesn’t mean they never will. The same goes for drug testing and levels of security.
Sounds like hard work, right? Well, let’s be honest – it’s not easy. Protecting your business is not something that should be taken lightly, and the measures you need to take in order stay safe emphasize that. However, it can be made a whole lot easier if you hire a pre-employment screening service.
A pre-employment screening service will be able to take much of the above responsibilities away from you. Not only that, but by hiring a professional service, you can ensure that the checks you are running are effective, reliable and accurate.
For more information on how Mind Your Business, Inc. can help you protect your business, or if you have questions on any of the points made above, get in touch with us today. We’ll be happy to help!
Employers cut staff by 22,200 in North Carolina last month and by 21,600 in Ohio, according to Labor Department data issued in Washington. The report also showed the jobless rate decreased in 25 states. Nevada continued to lead the nation in unemployment with a rate of 13.4 percent.
The economy needs to generate faster sustained job growth to lower unemployment and spur the consumer spending that makes up about 70 percent of the economy. A Labor Department report on Oct. 7 showed employers added 103,000 payrolls last month, almost half of them telecommunications workers returning from a strike, and the jobless rate was 9.1 percent for a third month.
“The majority of states will likely continue to grapple with a high unemployment for the foreseeable future as economic activity stagnates,” Anika Khan, an economist at Wells Fargo Securities Inc. in Charlotte, North Carolina, said before the report. “A genuine recovery will not likely begin until employment and income growth stabilize.”
After Nevada, the jobless rate was highest in California at 11.9 percent and Michigan at 11.1 percent. The biggest job gains last month occurred in Florida, where employers boosted payrolls by 23,300. Employment in Texas rose by 15,400 workers and increased in Louisiana by 14,100.
Over the past 12 months, 47 states gained jobs, while two, Delaware and Georgia, showed a decline.
While unemployment remains high, employers will continue to be in a position to screen applicants more thoroughly. Employment checks offer employers the ability to pick and choose between applicants, providing them the chance to ensure that they are making the right hiring decisions.
The more people that are unemployed, the more applicants there are applying for each vacancy. Which means employers need a more effective and thorough way to choose who to hire – and this is where employment checks come in. By screening applicants thoroughly, they will be able to hire only the best – the consequence of which will be a more productive and efficient workforce.
For more information on employment checks and how you can implement them at your company, reach out to Mind Your Business, Inc. today – we’ll be happy to answer your questions and meet your needs!
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