Kemba Dunham

About Kemba Dunham

Kemba Dunham works as a Senior Manager for Corporate Communications for Adecco Group North America. She’s been with the company since January 2012 and focuses on internal communications. In her free time, she enjoys hanging out with her family, reading, traveling, watching reality shows and writing screenplays.

Getting Older: A Gen Xer’s Take on the Age Gap in the Workplace

There are key moments in my life when I became acutely aware that I was aging. The first time some kids called me “ma’am” (I was 17.) The night a bartender told me he didn’t need to see my ID before sliding me a drink. And the moment I realized I was one of the older employees in the office.

Yes, for the first time in my life, I’m one of the older people on deck. Many of my co-workers are under 30, while I am, well, older. Some were born when I was in high school, probably listen to music I’ve never heard of and grew up using technology I have yet to master. (Yikes, I really do sound old.)
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Recruiting Socially

Right before racing off to the Atlanta airport, I was able to catch the tail-end of a SHRM session titled “Is Social Recruiting Really Working?” The session was moderated by Steve Boese, a director of talent-management strategy at Oracle, and featured several HR, recruiting and social-media experts on the panel.

One shared statistic was that 69% of employees plan to look for a new job in the next year. The message was that in light of this news, recruiters need to be as aggressive and creative as possible when looking for the best candidates.

The presenter asked the panel whether job seekers truly use Facebook to search for jobs and building professional networks, or is it mainly for personal use. Robert Hohman, CEO and co-founder of Glassdoor, pointed out that job-searching is inherently social, as many people find employment through friends, family and networking. Therefore, it’s silly to dismiss Facebook as a recruiting tool, and employers who do so will miss out.

Jeremy Langhans, program manager of global brand and talent attraction at Expedia, suggested that we shouldn’t merely focus on Facebook just because it’s the biggest and need to consider other social media as well.  But generally, “you probably need to identify someone in your company who can keep abreast of these trends,” he said.

John Sumser, CEO of HRExaminer.com, agreed that hiring managers shouldn’t pick one social network over another when searching for candidates. “You have to go where the people are because tomorrow morning, something else will pop up that you have to be aware of,” he said.
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Considering Employees with Disabilities

One of my favorite SHRM sessions was an enlightening discussion of best practices to successfully attract, employ and retain people with disabilities. Nadine Vogel, founder and president of Springboard Consulting, a Mendham, N.J. firm, was the presenter.

She started the discussion by quoting a KPMG leader, who stated that “supporting people with disabilities in the workforce and workplace is not just a strategic advantage, it is a business imperative.”

That notion is supported by numbers. Vogel pointed out that people with disabilities are the largest and fastest growing minority segment in the world, representing over 750 million individuals. With older people leaving the workforce in large numbers, “the alternative workforce of today may eventually become the needed workforce of tomorrow,” said Vogel.

This population represents four distinct segments: adults with disabilities, maturing workers with age-related disabilities, veterans with service-related disabilities and employees who have children and other dependents with special needs.
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Tom Brokaw: “We need an adult in here right now!”

Tom Brokaw

Our coverage of SHRM 2012 wrapped on Wednesday with Closing Session Speaker and legendary NBC newsman Tom Brokaw. He kicked off his speech with a joke about having to follow Jerry Seinfeld, who was the featured entertainment on Tuesday night.

“He’s the margarita; I’m the hangover,” he joked.

Brokaw’s talk soon became serious as he said that he’s never seen the country so bewildered, wary and in some cases, cynical, he said. The economy has stalled. A generation of young people who entered college four years ago is now graduating without jobs. And when they move back home, they’re finding parents who are unemployed.

In light of these circumstances, Brokaw had a message for the HR professionals in the room. “It’s incumbent upon all of us, especially those of you who have the kinds of jobs that you do, in which you’re interacting with employees, to engage in a national conversation,” he said.

Brokaw also referenced the November election and said he had an answer for those wondering about his favorite candidate: “I wrote it down before I came over here, but I left it at the hotel, unfortunately,” he quipped.
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The Skinny on Background Checks

At 2pm on Tuesday, I wandered into the “Top Ten Trends for Background Checks in 2012,” and not surprisingly, the place was packed. Even before the presentation started, audience members were peppering presenter Lester Rosen with questions. About 15 minutes into the start of the session, the actual presentation got underway.

Rosen, a California attorney, is the author of The Safe Hiring Manual, the first comprehensive guide to employment background checks. He was the chair of the steering committee that founded the National Association of Professional Background Screeners, a trade group for the screening industry, and served as its first chair.

Rosen launched the discussion by sharing why due diligence is mission critical. He listed a “parade of horribles” that can come from not conducting background checks: negligent hiring/retention lawsuits; fraudulent credentials; turnover costs; brand destruction; and time wasted in recruiting, hiring and training.

HR professionals “spend most of their time dealing with problem employees,” said Rosen.  “What’s the best way to avoid employee problems? Don’t hire problem employees.”
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Four Generations in the Work Place

Many of the sessions I’ve attended at SHRM have addressed the unprecedented reality that today’s workforce consists of four generations.  Arthur Jackson, a Woodbridge, Va.-based consultant, led a discussion that was a deep-dive into this phenomenon and offered leadership techniques to use with the various generations in the workplace.

Jackson’s session was hilarious from beginning to end. He started his discussion by stating that everyone has an intended level of greatness, and that HR professionals’ job is to help people figure out how they can achieve greatness. “If you can believe you can lead four generations in the workplace and get an ‘A’ game performance out of all of them, you can,” he said.

Jackson referred to the four generations as follows: Vet traditionalists (b. 1922-1945); Baby Boomers (b. 1946-1964); Gen-X (b. 1965-1980); and Gen-Y (b. 1981-2000). Gen-Next, not yet in the workforce, were born after 2000.

Throughout his session, Jackson used the term “generational cohort,” which he defined as a group of people who share the same formative experiences because they were born in contiguous years.

An early step in engaging these generational cohorts is to develop intimacy with each one, said Jackson. Businesses need to understand these individuals and what makes them tick. But don’t get too close, he warned. “Intimacy also breeds contempt, especially if you are one telling them to do things they don’t want to do.”
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