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THROWBACK THURSDAY: History of the 4th of July

The Fourth of July—also known as Independence Dayvintage-uncle-sam—has been a federal holiday in the United States since 1941, but the tradition of Independence Day celebrations goes back to the 18th century and the American Revolution.

Early Fourth of July Observances

In the pre-Revolutionary years, colonists had held annual celebrations of the king’s birthday, which traditionally included the ringing of bells, bonfires, processions and speechmaking. By contrast, during the summer of 1776 some colonists celebrated the birth of independence by holding mock funerals for King George III, as a way of symbolizing the end of the monarchy’s hold on America and the triumph of liberty.

Festivities including concerts, bonfires, parades and the firing of cannons and muskets usually accompanied the first public readings of the Declaration of Independence, beginning immediately after its adoption. Philadelphia held the first annual commemoration of independence on July 4, 1777, while Congress was still occupied with the ongoing war.

George Washington issued double rations of rum to all his soldiers to mark the anniversary of independence in 1778, and in 1781, several months before the key American victory at Yorktown, Massachusetts became the first state to make July 4th an official state holiday.

After the Revolutionary War, Americans continued to commemorate Independence Day every year, in celebrations that allowed the new nation’s emerging political leaders to address citizens and create a feeling of unity. By the last decade of the 18th century, the two major political parties—Federalists and Democratic-Republicans—that had arisen began holding separate Fourth of July celebrations in many large cities.

Fourth of July Becomes a National Holiday

The tradition of patriotic celebration became even more widespread after the War of 1812, in which the United States again faced Great Britain. In 1870, the U.S. Congress made July 4th a federal holiday; in 1941, the provision was expanded to grant a paid holiday to all federal employees.

Over the years, the political importance of the holiday would decline, but Independence Day remained an important national holiday and a symbol of patriotism.

From left, Alexis and Evan Elguindy, and Julia, Bryce, Aubrey and Madilyn Haacker enthusiastically watched the parade.

Falling in mid-summer, the Fourth of July has since the late 19th century become a major focus of leisure activities and a common occasion for family get-togethers, often involving fireworks and outdoor barbecues. The most common symbol of the holiday is the American flag, and a common musical accompaniment is “The Star-Spangled Banner,” the national anthem of the United States.

(excerpted from History.com)

Workfact Wednesday: Coffee Perks Up the Global Economy in a Big Way

As you’re enjoying your morning (or afternoon or evening) cup of coffee, consider these facts about our jumbo java passion. Second only to crude oil, coffee is the most sought-after commodity worldwide, worth more than $100 billion annually.

Coffee facts

TIP TUESDAY: Compensation Planning – How HR Can Get the Most from Salary Surveys

There are plenty of salary surveys available and, arguably, there’s not a lot of difference between them. Most provide a number of incumbents, a mean, and multiple percentiles. Some use number of employees to describe company size and some use annual revenue. Most are broken down by industry and geographic location.

Cost is one differentiator, with prices for salary surveys that vary from free (if you participate) to tens of thousands of dollars. Whether your salary data is a good buy or costs an arm and a leg, the value of your salary survey can be enhanced or hindered by how you use it.

Pick A Number

One of the first things you’ll need to do is to decide which piece of market data to use. As mentioned above, most salary surveys provide an average (the mean) for each demographic as well as several percentiles, typically: the 10th, 25th, 50th, 75th, and 90th. The challenge is to determine which one of those numbers is right for your organization.

Having a well thought out pay philosophy in place before you begin conducting a salary market analysis helps smooth the process of using market data to set pay rates. If you don’t have a pay philosophy in place, think about how competitive you want to be in attracting and retaining talent. Best practice is that paying at the 50th percentile is paying at market, which is a good plan if you want to be moderately competitive. If you want to attract and retain the cream of the crop, however, consider paying at a higher percentile.

Everybody Has One

In general, salary surveys focus on jobs that can be found in many organizations—benchmark jobs—for example: accountant, receptionist, sales rep … you get the picture. Benchmark jobs provide the most incumbents in any given survey and the more incumbents, the more valid the data.

The more specific the job, the fewer incumbents, which is one of the reasons why the rule of thumb is if the job as described in the survey is at least a 70% match to your job, it’s a viable indicator of the market rate for your position.

If It Walks Like a Duck …

If you’ve searched your salary survey from top to bottom and still can’t find the job title you need for viable market data, consider “comparable” in lieu of “matchy-matchy.” We all know that one employer’s number cruncher can be another employer’s bean counter, and let’s face it some employers can be quite creative with job titles, so it’s important to look beyond titles and dig into job descriptions when reviewing salary survey data.

With that said, there’s still a better than average chance that some of your jobs may not be included in your salary survey. You could opt to acquire another survey that gives you a broader range of jobs or, especially if you’re on a tight budget, consider looking for comparable jobs. In other words, look at jobs that require knowledge, skills, and abilities that are comparable to your position. Be sure to consider educational and experience level requirements as well.

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THROWBACK THURSDAY: Carnegie’s Advice to Business Graduates

“I can give you the secret,” said Andrew Carnegie in a speech at Curry Commercial College on June 23, 1885. “It lies mcarnegieainly in this: Instead of the question, ‘What must I do for my employer?’ substitute, ‘What can I do?’…. The rising man must do something exceptional, and beyond the range of his special department. He must attract attention.”

WORKFACT WEDNESDAY: What Work Is Today

 by Julie R. Neidlinger from the Lone Prairie blog

The concepts of what work is, has changed.

What we think work is, both in culture and how it fits into our lives, has changed in the 21st century. Entrepreneurship, including micro-entrepreneurship, has lead the way, with 21st century workers wanting to work for themselves instead of for someone else.

Concepts of co-working, a tough economy and job market, and technology that allows for a low-cost entry into owning their own business, have helped push younger workers (and some older ones) into owning their own businesses.

This drive towards entrepreneurship and making a success of a business plays into the steady increase in more hours per week being dedicated to work.

Technology has made significant changes in how and what work is done. Fewer people are required to generate the same manufactured output thanks to technology, allowing (or forcing) people to shift to urban centers and find other kinds of work. Technology has allowed human workers to be unshackled from the office, giving them greater freedom.

Work in the 21st century is about being flexible and mobile, ready for change both in skills and financial savings.