Employers seeking to make workplace accommodations for employees with disabilities can find help on the Internet through Searchable Online Accommodation Resource (SOAR). SOAR is a Web-based service of the President’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities. The program takes the user through a step-by-step process, beginning with the identification of the impairment and the functional limitations of the individual needing an accommodation. It then points the user to recommended accommodations, as well as examples of workplace adjustments that other employers have made. If equipment is recommended, the program can provide a list of potential vendors for that equipment. SOAR can be accessed at jan.wvu.edu/soar.
Workplace Violence Top U.S. Security Threat
Workplace violence is considered the most significant security threat to American business, according to a survey of Fortune 1000 corporate security professionals by Pinkerton, the nation’s largest security services company. More than 2 million people suffer violence or threats of violence at the workplace or while on duty each year, though more than half the acts go unreported, according to U.S. Justice Department estimates. Violence in the workplace costs employers approximately $36 billion annually.
The study, “Top Security Threats and Security Issues Facing Corporate America,” identified the following top 10 security threats:
1. Workplace violence
2. Internet/intranet security
3. Business interruption/disaster recovery
4. Fraud/white-collar crime
5. Employee selection/screening concerns
6. General employee theft
7. Unethical business conduct
8. Hardware/software theft
9. Drugs/alcohol in the workplace
10. Sexual harassment
Concerns about Internet and network security jumped to second in this year’s survey from seventh last year. “The potential for theft of trade secrets and customer information, damage to sensitive data and interruption of commerce presents unprecedented vulnerability to businesses,” said Pinkerton President Don W. Walker. “In response to these threats, we see greater collaboration between corporate security executives and information technology professionals to design and implement integrated physical and data security programs that better protect computer networks and control the exchange of information.”
Of Cabbages and King Midas
A New Zealand scientist has developed a way to get gold from cabbages by a process known as phytomining, according to a recent bulletin from the Gold Institute. Chris Anderson of Massey University has been growing cabbages over tailings from old mines. A special chemical is placed on the tailings to make the gold soluble for a period of 10 days. The cabbages absorb trace amounts of gold through their roots, and are later harvested and dried. The dried plants are burned, leaving a residue containing the precious metal. Anderson estimates he can extract more than a kilogram (2.2 pounds) of gold from a hectare (2.5 acres) of plants by using this method.
Latina Entrepreneurs: A New Economic Force
Firms owned by Hispanic women are becoming a rapidly-growing segment of the economy, according the National Federation for Women Business Owners (NFWBO). An NFWBO study sponsored by Wells Fargo & Company shows that the average Latina entrepreneur has owned her own business for an average of 12 years. Two-thirds of those surveyed were born in this country and one-third are immigrants who have lived in the U.S. for an average of 30 years. A 1996 report showed that the 400,000 Latina-owned firms generated sales of $67.3 billion in a wide variety of industries. Nearly two-thirds of the respondents said they use both English and Spanish in their business activities, and 54 percent consider English their first language.
Burning the Midnight Oil
A recent survey suggests that “nine to five” may be becoming “eight till late” in many businesses. A majority of executives polled said they are working more hours today than five years ago, with more than one in four putting in significantly more hours. The survey, developed by Accountemps temporary staffing service, includes responses from 150 executives with the nation’s 1,000 largest companies.
Executives were asked:
“Are you working more hours or fewer hours compared to five years ago?”
Significantly more 27%
Somewhat more 41%
No Change 20%
Somewhat less 11%
Significantly less 1%
According to Mex Messmer, chairman of Accountemps, “Despite the efficiencies made possible by technology, employees are still putting in long hours to meet today’s demands for greater productivity and faster turnaround.” Messmer warns that too many late nights can compromise productivity, and suggests that managers monitor employee morale and provide solutions to offset heavy workloads, such as reprioritizing projects, hiring additional personnel, or bringing in temporary assistance.
Home Sweet Office
The American Association of Home-Based Businesses reports that there are more than 24 million home businesses in the U.S., and millions more people use their bedroom or den as a part-time home office. Kaufman and Broad Home Corporation, the nation’s largest homebuilder, provides the following tips to consider when planning an office for your home:
Location. Think about which floor plan is best suited for your office needs. If you plan to have frequent client visits, a first-floor room with easy access to the entrance would be best. Otherwise, you may want to select a room that is quiet and located away from family activities.
Wiring. Be sure to have provide enough lines for telephones and faxes, as well as enough electrical outlets for computer, copier, fax machine, etc. Consider a wiring integration package that will prepare your home for future technologies, as well as increase its resale value.
Flooring. Consider laminate or tile flooring, which will stand up to heavy use and also make it easier to roll a desk chair back and forth.
Shelving. Built-in shelving provides a clean, tailored look, and modular, built-in furniture is functional and can save space.
Color. Interior designers say you can increase productivity and reduce stress with the right wall color. Soft tints, such as sand, peach and pale green, are recommended for “energetic ambiance.”