Thursday, April 17, 2014

BYU-Idaho rated "most underrated" by Business Insider

It needs to be noted that the University of Wyoming is the only four-years school in the Cowboy State.
Earlier this week, Business Insider published a list of 50 underrated colleges around the country—one from each state. The Web site's editors partnered with Niche to determine the schools with the best academics and highest acceptance rates.

In Idaho, that distinction went to BYU-Idaho. "It may be hard to believe that there are so many opportunities to develop skills in a given area from attending a little school in Rexburg, Idaho, " said the summary. "But just as BYU-Idaho takes huge steps in innovating learning and maximizing resources, students learn to be innovative hard-workers who know how to problem-solve and communicate effectively."

While some people may think these schools are “safety schools” because of their high admissions rate (BYU-Idaho's was 99 percent), their strong academics prove they’re much more. You can click here for a statistical breakdown of the schools.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Freddy's Frozen Custard set to build near WinCo Foods

Here's what a Freddy's Frozen Custard typically looks like. 
Freddy's Frozen Custard and Steakburgers has filed a site plan with the city of Idaho Falls to build at 355 North Woodruff Avenue, on a site pad near WinCo Foods.

Site plans are the first step in the process, before a property is platted and a building permit is issued. A spokeswoman for the chain, based in Wichita, Kan., confirmed last December that a franchisee was negotiating a real estate deal in Idaho Falls.

Freddy's was founded in 2002 by two brothers, Bill and Randy Simon, whose father, Freddy Simon, was the inspiration for the restaurant (and obviously its namesake). The first franchise launched in Hutchinson, Kansas, in 2004 and by October 2013 the company had opened its 100th location, in Bowling Green, Ky.

According to the Web site, Freddy's plans to open 400 more stores over the next 10 to 15 years.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Collective for crafters to open at Park and A Street

Remodeling work at the corner of Park Avenue and A Street is going on in preparation for the opening of The Collective, planned for May 1.
Vacant for several years, the old Inkley's building at Park Avenue and A Street is finally going to open back up as The Collective Artisans and Crafters Boutique, a place where crafters and artisans can show and sell their goods.

Scott and Tiffani Duff are heading the project, which will occupy 4,200 square feet of the main floor. The two have been going to craft fairs for more than five years and met a lot of people who told them they could use a place in Idaho Falls where they could sell their stuff.

"These people typically have other jobs," said Scott Duff (who himself works for the Idaho Cleanup Project). "The don't make enough or sell enough to open their own stores."

He said they toyed with the idea of a co-op like Boise's Indie Made, but opted instead to manage it themselves. "All they have to do is make their products," he said.

An Idaho Falls native, Duff said he excited to be downtown. "I've loved that building since I was a kid." He credited Kevin Cutler of Sperry Van Ness High Desert Commercial with hooking them up with the building's owners, Chad and Kari Campos.

The Campos plan to develop the upper floors of the building into residential lofts, said Cutler (who is  president of the Idaho Falls Downtown Development Corp.) With a lot of downtown properties, it's easier to renovate the upstairs when someone is paying the rent downstairs, he said.

In addition to display space, there will be a classroom where vendors can teach, Duff said.

They are shooting to have the doors open to the public May 1, with a grand opening scheduled for May 10. To check on their progress, visit their Facebook page here.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Policies limiting employees' activities off the job need to be crafted with care

With a case being heard by the U.S. Supreme Court, Hobby Lobby has been no stranger to the media this past year

Last week the company's name came up once again on a satirical Web site called the Daily Currant. The Currant's story -- a work of fiction -- was about a 33-year-old Hobby Lobby sales associate who claimed she'd been fired because she'd filed for divorce from her alcoholic husband. Hobby Lobby, which claims to base its business model on Biblical standards, considers divorce a sin and grounds for termination.

The story featured some colorful "comments" by David Green, Hobby Lobby's CEO. While it was satire (other Daily Currant headlines: "North Korean Leader Has Perfect NCAA Bracket" "US Bans The Import of Russian Vodka") – it brought up a good topic for discussion. Just how far can an employer go in limiting an employee’s life outside the workplace? 

As employees, many of us spend more time at our jobs than we spend at our homes or with our families. It would only seem logical that the moment we leave the workplace we are free to be ourselves without fear of consequences from our personal choices and activities, right?

For the most part. I would say that a number of employers don’t monitor their employees’ after-hours choices or activities. Over the past few years, however, I have seen major management practices and trends start to focus on what employees are doing outside the workplace if it's likely to have an impact on business.

Exactly how far can an employer go in limiting what an employee can do outside of work hours? Last year I remember having a conversation with a colleague who is a manager at one of the major car dealerships in southeast Idaho. He said their dealership had implemented a policy in which employees were advised they could not wear their dealership attire in public after hours if there was any possibility they might behave in a way that would reflect negatively on the dealership.

A company that does government contracting has to maintain an even higher level of monitoring. Battelle Energy Alliance, CWI and Bechtel Marine Propulsion all have very strict standards on what employees can and cannot do after hours if they don't want to risk their security clearances. There have been cases in which employees have been terminated due to misdemeanor convictions, credit issues and questionable behavior.

A company can limit the outside activities of its employees if it can prove that a person's behavior has a negative impact on the company (e.g. loss of sales, civil/criminal cases, contractual obligations, etc). Additionally, a company can implement what is called a bona fide occupational qualification to identify qualities or attributes in the hiring and retention of employees. These are more narrowly defined though employment law.

If your business is or has considered limiting outside activities of employees, it’s important to identify what those activities are and why the company does not allow them. It is also important to be mindful that a company cannot identify every action an employee might take that could have a negative impact, and that trying to broadly identify those areas could cause more harm than good.

Policies or procedures that limit people's activities off the clock should be crafted very carefully and reviewed by an HR professional and/or an employment attorney. This is to ensure that employers are not overstepping boundaries and putting themselves in situations where there might be legal liabilities.

Overall, it’s important for companies to understand the impact their employees' after-hours activities might have. But limiting those activities beyond reasonable levels can be damaging to the company and the employee base.

Monica Bitrick is an independent human resources consultant who lies in Idaho Falls.

Luncheon to focus on politcal advertising

Michelle Ziel-Dingman and Dayne Dingman, the team behind Artcore Visual Studio, will be the guests next Thursday at the Idaho Falls Advertising Federation's monthly Lunch 'n' Learn.

Artcore was integral in the election last fall of Idaho Falls Mayor Rebecca Caper, and political advertising will be the subject of the talk. Do basic marketing principles apply? The presentation will focus on the subtleties in the carefully crafted messages of political candidates that can be applied with advantage to any type of advertising or marketing campaign.

The lunch will start at 11:30 a.m. at Dixie's Diner, on Channing Way. RSVP Lisa if you plan to attend. Tickets can be bought in advance here.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Quizzes, aggregation, etc.: What's an old print dog to do?

A metaphor for life, perhaps?
I recently filled out one of those Facebook quizzes, one asking "Are you a journalist?" I passed. :)

This is probably because I know how to use the word "affect," e.g., "The publisher affected an air of haughty condescension." I also know the difference between e.g. and i.e. How 'bout that?

With the results duly posted, I wrote, "I feel like a polar bear standing on ice that's melting out from underneath him." On reflection, that's probably true of my whole life. When it comes to my career, I made my bed a long time ago.

Anyway, I picked this Vanity Fair article by Michael Kinsley off my Twitter feed Thursday morning and as a former newspaper person I found it interesting, so I'm sharing it. If this is what's called aggregation, a dirty word at a lot of newspapers today, I plead guilty.

One passage caught my attention, should you choose not to open the link: "(Most) newspapers aren’t very good and wouldn’t be missed by anybody who could get The New York Times or USA Today and some bloggy source of local news." I don't want to go near that one.