The Unasked Questions on Welfare Reform

by Matthew Stollak on Wednesday, August 29, 2012

One of the major issues over the last month of the Presidential campaign is the notion of welfare reform.  Earlier this year, after demands from a number of Republican senators, Obama gave states more flexibility to find ways to get individuals off government assistance into jobs. 

His administration in July issued a letter to state governments saying that the Department of Health and Human Services would consider requests from states to experiment with new ways to fulfill the work requirements. The letter said that in order to receive waivers to carry out the experiments, states would have to show that their plans would move more welfare recipients into jobs than existing policies.

However, as a result of this action, the Romney campaign ran an ad stating:  

"President Obama quietly announced a plan to gut welfare reform by dropping the work requirement. Under Obama’s plan, you wouldn’t have to work and wouldn’t have to train for a job. They just send you a welfare check. And welfare-to-work goes back to being plain old welfare."
 It was front and center in former Sen. Rick Santorum's convention speech last night:  “This summer he showed us once again he believes in government handouts and dependency by waiving the work requirement for welfare,” Santorum said, referring to Obama.

Ignoring the point that virtually every fact checking organization has argued this claim is false (ex. "Four Pinocchios" "Pants on Fire"), or that 5 ads have been produced thus far with his same theme, here are the unasked questions I'd like answered:

  • Which one of the 29 current Republican Governors is asking Obama for a waiver to drop the work requirement so that their state residents can get that welfare check?  Gov. Walker of Wisconsin? Gov. Christie of New Jersey? Gov. Scott of Florida?  Gov. Snyder of Michigan? Gov. Kasich of Ohio?
  • Which one of the 20 current Democratic Governors is asking Obama for a waiver to drop the work requirement so that their state residents can get that welfare check?
  • Is Independent Gov. Chafee of Rhode Island asking for a waiver to make it easier for Rhode Island citizens to get a welfare check?
I want names....otherwise, if there isn't such a waiver......nothing changes.

The Word of 2012 is "Legitimate."

by Matthew Stollak on Tuesday, August 28, 2012

At the beginning of the year, Laurie Ruettimann argued the word of 2012 was Manifesto.

However, it took Todd Akin's specious understanding of science to make me realize the word of the year was "legitimate."

Much of the 2012 election is really about the legitimacy of the Obama administration, as well as those who vote.

Akin's poor choice of words try to differentiate a word that should not be parsed - rape.  Whether he meant forcible or legitimate, he was trying to diminish certain situations resulting in pregnancy as not worthy of abortion coverage.

We see legitimacy as well in the significant number of voter ID laws being passed across the country.  Despite the virtual absence of voter fraud in elections, those individuals without an ID will not be seen as legitimate voters in the eyes of the their local polling place (even though most have been able to vote in several previous elections without a problem).

 “No one’s ever asked to see my birth certificate. They know that this is the place where both of us were born and raised,” is the latest salvo by Mitt Romney to delegitimize the Obama presidency by enlisting the birther movement and insinuating that Obama was not born in the United States.  Therefore, he is not a natural-born citizen and does not have the legitimate right to be President.

We see this in human resources as well.

The continued use (10+ years running) of the phrase "seat at the table" concerns HR's legitimacy as a prime business function.

Recruiting and the search for the elusive "purple squirrel" of candidates is an attempt to identify legitimate candidates that many not exist.

What's legitimate in your world?

Pet Peeve #27 on How Television and Movies Portray the Workplace

by Matthew Stollak on Monday, August 20, 2012

I like Aaron Sorkin shows and movies.  I watched "The West Wing" and "Sports Night" regularly.    I thought "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip" was an interesting mistake.  I enjoyed the script for "The Social Network."

However, in watching his latest endeavor, "The Newsroom,"  he is guilty of using a device that drives me up the wall....having private conversations in front of other co-workers.

Whether it is about relationships, or, even worse, dressing down a subordinate, these conversations are held in the audience of other friends or peers.  You can see the pained expressions in those friends and co-workers' eyes, the awkwardness that ensues, and rarely, if ever, is there a follow-up scene with an apology for the inappropriateness of the conversation.

While you think it makes for good TV or movies, it makes for bad management.

Please stop.

It's My Birthday Next Week and Here's My Wish

by Matthew Stollak on Friday, August 17, 2012

It's my birthday next Tuesday, and I'll be celebrating with a good burger and watching the Cubs and Brewers battle for 4th place at Miller Park.  Given I am in my forties, I pretty much have most of my material wishes satisfied.  So, here's what I wish for:

1.  If you are a SHRM member, please vote in the 2013 Elections.  Whether it is for the SHRM approved slate, the SHRM Members for Transparency slate, or the 8 Man Rotation slate, let your wishes be known!

2.  Make a contribution to the SHRM Foundation.  I haven't been shy about my support for the SHRM Foundation -  they advance the HR profession, and they may very well be the best part of SHRM.  Plus your donations are tax deductible.  Learn how you can donate here.

If all else fails, I have an Amazon wish list here.  Ha.

On @lruettimann's endorsement of the #8manrotation for the 2013 #SHRM Board

by Matthew Stollak on Wednesday, August 15, 2012

I've been on the road most of the day traveling from Michigan to Wisconsin, but I wanted to respond to Laurie Ruettimann's post on the current SHRM election.  She was kind enough to vote for me, along with the rest of the 8 Man Rotation (Lance Haun, Tim Sackett, Kris Dunn, Steve Boese) for the 2013 SHRM Board of Directors.

I can't speak for the rest of my 8 Man Rotation brethren, and I am not sure I will have the time in 2013 to attend the SHRM Board meetings, along with the concomitant requirements of serving, but, if elected:

1.  I will not fly first class.  I'll settle for an exit row along with frequent delivery of Diet Coke to my seat from a flight attendant.

2.  Any monies received from serving on the Board will be redirected immediately to the SHRM Foundation.

Also, note that will be up and running by 2013.

In the meantime, while voting for the 8 Man Rotation for the 2013 SHRM Board of Directors, you can read the 2010 edition and the 2011 edition of "The 8 Man Rotation - A Look at Sports and HR."

Thanks for the support Laurie

Why Recognition Will Be A Major Workplace Issue 10 Years From Now

by Matthew Stollak on Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Yes, I'm channeling my inner Kreskin and making the prediction that employee recognition will be one of, if not THE major workplace issue in 2022.



For over 30 years, Wreck-It Ralph has been doing the same job as the "bad guy" in a popular video game.  As he states, "it starts to be hard to love your job, when no one else seems to like you for doing it."  He decides to leave his own game to become a hero in another.

It features the tagline, "The story of a regular guy....just looking for a little wreck-ognition."

Not only does it feature many beloved video game characters (Q-bert, Pac-man, Bowser, Sonic), it is the 52nd animated feature from Disney, which means marketing will be through the roof.  With a release date of November 2, expect kid demand to be heavy through Thanksgiving and Christmas.

So, as the next generation of workers reach working age, don't be surprised in 2022 when you see a greater demand for recognition on the job.  They just want to be like Wreck-It Ralph.

It's Quiet: Stepping Away From #SHRM

by Matthew Stollak on Thursday, August 2, 2012

Reposted from May 25,2012

This fall, I will be on sabbatical and concentrating on writing a book.  Given the efforts that will be made in this direction, I will be stepping down from my role as Social Media Director for the Wisconsin SHRM State Council, effective August 3.  I have been on the WI SHRM State Council for the entirety of my time living in Wisconsin.  It will also mean that, for the first time since last century, I will no longer be serving in a SHRM volunteer role (outside of student chapter advisor) in an official capacity at the local, state, or national level.  In that time, I have served in the following roles:

  • Treasurer – Golden Triangle Human Resource Association (January 1999 – Dec. 2001)
  • College Relations Director – Mississippi SHRM State Council (January 2000 – August, 2002)
  • Web Site Manager – Golden Triangle Human Resource Association (January, 2002 – August, 2002)
  • Area IV Representative – National College Relations Committee – Society for Human Resource Management (November 2000 – August, 2002)
  • Technology Advocate – Mississippi SHRM State Council (June 2001 – August, 2002)
  • Vice-President – Golden Triangle Human Resource Association (Jan. 2002 – August, 2002)
  • Area III Representative - National College Relations Committee - Society for Human Resource Management (August, 2002 - December, 2003)
  • Area III Board College Relations Director - Societ for Human resource Management (August, 2002 - December, 2003)
  • College Relations Director - Wisconsin SHRM State Council (August, 2002 - December, 2005)
  • National HR Games Advisory Team - Society for Human Resource Management (April, 2003 - April, 2005)
  • SHRM Foundation Undergraduate HR Program Directory Informal Advisory Board (February, 2004 - September, 2004)
  • Foundation Director – Wisconsin SHRM State Council (January, 2006 – December, 2008)
  • President-Elect – Green Bay Area SHRM (January, 2006 – June, 2006)
  • President – Green Bay Area SHRM (June, 2006 – December, 2007)
  • 2007 Wisconsin SHRM State Conference Planning Committee – Programming (Dec. 2006 – Dec. 2007)
  • 2008 Wisconsin SHRM State Conference Planning Committee – Exhibits (December 2007 – December 2008)
  • Past-President – Green Bay Area SHRM (January, 2008 – December 2009) 
  • District Director – WI SHRM State Council (January, 2009 – December, 2010)
  • 2009 Wisconsin SHRM State Conference – Co-Chair (January, 2009 – December 2009)
  • 2010 Wisconsin SHRM State Conference Planning Committee – Exhibits (Dec. 2009 – December, 2010)
  • 2011 Wisconsin SHRM State Conference Planning Committee – Communications/Website (December 2010 – December, 2011)
  • Social Media Director, WI SHRM State Council (January, 2011 – present)
In addition, I served in a number of ad hoc roles along the way, such as Senior Judge for the HR Games at the state and national level, item writer and reviewer for the SHRM Assurance of Learning exam.

Some items of note:
1.  I still have a passion for SHRM and believe in their mission.  SHRM has enabled me to keep up with the latest efforts in HR and provided me with the information to better serve my students...and I will still be connected as a student chapter advisor
2.  I'm particularly proud of several of my accomplishments during this period, including:
*Getting the state council to provide financial support to student chapters who submit a merit award application to SHRM
*Doubling the amount of contributions made to the SHRM Foundation from the WI SHRM State Council and its respective chapters
*Winning the Career Achievement and Member of the Year Awards from the Green Bay Area SHRM chapter
*Co-authoring this

But, it took a first step...getting involved.  If you count the above bullet points (22), you'll notice I wore multiple hats during a number of years.  I made the can too.

This is just a really long way of saying there is an opportunity to join the WI SHRM State Council as the new Social Media Director.  If you know of someone in Wisconsin, who would be a good fit for the position (description here), please let me know.