Friday, August 29, 2014

How to handle employee arrests

Getting arrested is probably not on anyone's bucket list, nor is it likely to be anyone's favorite topic for conversation in the break room during lunch time. People make mistakes because they are people. No one is perfect.

While everyone hopes they won’t be involuntarily wearing shiny cuffs, sporting orange or brown county-assigned clothing, or spending time away in the “all-inclusive” county “resort,” the fact of the matter is sometimes it happens (a word of advice: to avoid this experience, don't break the law.)

I am sure if you were able to watch the thoughts of someone who has just been arrested there would be a jumbled mess of "what if" and "what will" questions flashing across the screen. One of those "what will" questions is likely "What will happen to my job?"

To be honest with you, when an employee is arrested an employer is faced with a similar question: "What will we do now?" On the employer side there are many more questions that follow and there really aren’t easy answers or set ways for an employer or employee to respond.

On both sides it is important for there to be a level of honesty. As an employee, it's better to be up front with your manager instead of your manager finding out from a background check, court disposition or surprise phone call from a friend or family member. In the past when I have worked with employees who have been arrested I have given them a certain level of flexibility and tried to work with them if they have been up front with me. It is probably one of the hardest conversations you will ever have with a manager, but it could save your job. On the employer side it is also important to let the employee know that it will take time to consider and review what the company will do, based on company policy, liabilities, and other factors. It is also best practice to be honest in giving the employee a timeline for when they might expect a decision.

Easy enough and it all works out after that, right? Well, not quite. This is actually where it gets very complex on the employer's side. If an employer does not have a carefully outlined policy stating what an employee has to do if they are arrested and what types of arrests and/or convictions result in disciplinary action, the door is wide open to all sorts of confusion. The best practice is to get a policy in place but it is a very cloudy area to explore and should be reviewed thoroughly by an HR professional or legal adviser.

Most small-to-medium-sized employers haven’t implemented policies that clearly state what should be done, so when an employee is arrested it can be very complex.

Any arrest should be individually considered. Some factors to consider include the offense the employee has been charged with, how long the employee might be incarcerated if convicted, and what relationship does the arrest have with the employee’s job. Without considering these factors individually and determining in advance what steps can be taken (disciplinary action, termination, etc.), employers run the risk of being accused of wrongful termination or discriminatory practices.

If an employee has been charged with a serious crime, you may want to adopt a standard policy under which the person is automatically suspended (paid or unpaid) pending the outcome of the case. If the employee is exonerated or if the charges are dismissed, he or she may be reinstated (require documentation from the courts). If the employee is convicted, terminate employment.

Employers also have to be mindful that the steps and actions they take with the arrest of one employee have to be consistent should another employee be arrested down the road. Employers “picking and choosing” -- e.g. "Johnny's a good guy and just made a mistake getting a DUI, but Josh is a jerk so we're using his DUI as a reason for letting him go" -- leave the door wide open for being charged with discriminatory practices.

Arrests of employees should be handled carefully to ensure the employee and the situation are being handled in a fair and non-discriminatory manner. Additionally, employees should be aware the employers have to make decisions based on business needs, being mindful of the risks and liabilities arrests, convictions and incarceration can have.

Monica Bitrick is the CEO of Bitrick Consulting Group, an Idaho Falls human resources company.

USA Today picks Bullseye Burger as best of state fair fare

This came out more than a month ago and was sent to me by Tyler Archibald, but in the interest of immediate impact I decided to hold it until the eve of the Eastern Idaho State Fair, which starts tomorrow.

In its July 23 survey "State fair fare: View funky (usually fried) food," USA Today chose the Bullseye Burger as Idaho's dish to be savored. "This bacon cheeseburger is topped with a fried egg and served on a glazed doughnut. Other fair food includes bacon wrapped chestnuts, fried cheesecake bites, smoked turkey legs and sirloin steak served on a stick," the article reported.

Other state fair dishes included: Rocky Mountain Oysters (Montana), Pierogies (New Jersey) and Pulled Pork Parfait (Illinois). I can feel my arteries filling cholesterol even as I read this.

The Bullseye Burger is the creation of Outlaw Catering of Blackfoot. Here is their Facebook page if you want to like them: Outlaw Catering.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Ron Sayer sets fund-raiser for Westside Elementary

Ron Sayer Chrysler Jeep Dodge will be having its annual Drive For the Kids benefit at Westside Elementary School on Thursday afternoon from 4:30 to 7 p.m. It works this way: the dealer will bring some of its latest models, and for every test drive $10 will be donated to the school's parent teacher organization. They promise for it to be a low pressure event that will benefit the school.

Going by last year's posts on Facebook, the event was more than low pressure. Chrysler's representative was delayed and the fund-raiser was canceled, but Chrysler mailed Westside a check for $1,000, with a promise to reschedule. At another fund-raiser later in the year, the dealership raised $2,150 for Templeview Elementary,

Friday, August 22, 2014

Commission calls rainfall 'catastrophic' for malt barley crop

The effect of heavy August rain on eastern Idaho's malt barley crop has been catastrophic, said Kelly Olson, administrator of the Idaho Barley Commission, who was in eastern Idaho Tuesday through Thursday touring the area. "We're looking at millions of dollars, perhaps high millions, of lost economic value," she said.

The worst case scenario would be for 60 percent of the malt barley crop to be downgraded to feed, due to early sprouting in the mature but unharvested malting barley crop. In the malting process, sprouting is highly controlled in plants like the Anheuser-Busch and Intergrow facilities south of Idaho Falls.

A downgrade from malt to feed would cause the crop to lose roughly half its value. "We're losing more and more of the quality than we thought we had," she said.

The malting companies, which have contracted for certain quantities of malt barley, will have to go somewhere else now, paying higher prices and freight costs as well. The commission is hoping that at least some of the crop can be salvaged and has issued guidelines for steps growers can take. Commission Chairman Pat Purdy encourages barley producers who need assistance or information to contact the IBC office in Boise at 208-334-2090 or in Idaho Falls at 208-569-6957.

The southwestern monsoonal weather pattern is nothing unusual for August, Olson said. What is unusual is it coming this far north. In a typical year, the moisture from the Pacific hits Colorado and is deflected eastward.

"No one has a good explanation for it," she said. "It's just another example of the more extreme weather patterns everybody seems to be experiencing."

Earlier this week Jerome County commissioners sought emergency status after nine days of rain caused hay and wheat to mold and barley fields to sprout, according to a story Wednesday in the Idaho Statesman. Between 50 and 70 percent of the wheat, barley and alfalfa crops in Jerome County may have been lost, according to estimates from the county's Office of Emergency Management. Commissioners in neighboring Twin Falls County said they would seek an emergency declaration as well.

Here is a link to today's National Weather Service forecast: Idaho Falls weather.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Here we are at Trader Joe's

Trader Joe's in Brandywine Hundred, Wilmington, Del.
Day 5 of my annual East Coast sojourn, we hit Trader Joe's for those cheese sticks my mom practically lives on and some bread crumbs to make meat loaf. I can tell you it was everything I hoped for and perhaps much, much more. I can't tell you when we're going to get Trader Joe's in Idaho Falls, but I can say for sure that if or when we do they will sell Two Buck Chuck, which this store in Delaware can't. Yep, beer, wine and spirits are all sold at privately owned liquor stores in the Blue Hen State. No beer or wine in the grocery stores. Anyway, this is just to let all you loyal readers know I'm thinking about you land sending good thoughts your way. Trader Joe's thoughts. Dunkin' Donuts, too. Any requests? I've got another 10 days and will lose all the extra pounds when I get home.

Two nuclear engineering students receive scholarships

The Partnership for Science & Technology and the Western Initiative for Nuclear have awarded $5,000 in scholarships to two college students. Funding for the scholarships was provided by a grant from NuScale Power LLC.

The students who received the scholarships were:
  • Paulina Hyde, who is pursuing a double major in mechanical and nuclear engineering at Idaho State University.
  • Kaleb Trotter, majoring in mechanical engineering at the University of Idaho and planning to continue his education with master’s and doctorate degrees in nuclear engineering.
The scholarship application asked each student to submit a 250-word essay on how they might apply their field of study to Small Modular Reactor technology.

“We are fortunate to work with an organization like NuScale Power," said Leslie Huddleston, PST's executive director, announcing the awards in a press release timed to coincide with the Intermountain Energy Summit taking place in Idaho Falls today and Wednesday. "Their membership in PST and involvement in the Project WIN Scholarship underscores their commitment to the community, Idaho and this nation’s need to train the next generation of nuclear engineers. … These students represent the future of the nuclear industry.”

Monday, August 18, 2014

Salutation from the Blue Hen State

Downtown Market Street, Wilmington, Del.
I am in Delaware the next two weeks, visiting my mom, who turns 82 on the 26th, but I don't want you to feel like I'm not thinking of you. I will keep posting as the spirit moves me.

While walking to the Dunkin Donuts on French Street (I know, I know), I saw this Walgreen's at Market and Ninth (it was Woolworth's when I was a youngster.) The architecture reminded me of downtown Idaho Falls, the Salisbury Building perhaps, and it made me feel a little low that we can't have something like this. The reason is simple, I've been told. There aren't enough people living downtown to support development like this. Wouldn't it be nice if there were to change some day?

Friday, August 15, 2014

Under arrest and out of a job?

Monday mornings are one of my favorite times to catch up on what’s happened over the weekend.  I dial into MSN, local news Web sites and Facebook to get my fill of current events before I get my week going.

This week was especially interesting.  Browsing through the news, I happened to see a link to a story on an person who had been arrested on charges of driving under the influence and hitting a pedestrian. While this might not be any big deal, the mug shot was of a co-worker to a close colleague of mine.

Visiting with my colleague later that day, she disclosed to me that she had received many reports, texts and e-mails notifying her of the arrest. Bear in mind this is not the person’s manager, just a co-worker. She said she was unsure how management would handle the situation, or how any employer should handle this sort of situation. It got me thinking.

Employees are people and so are managers. We all know no one is perfect. We all make mistakes, but what do you do when someone makes a mistake and is charged with breaking the law?

There’s really not an easy answer because there are legal liabilities that can be involved when considering a candidate for employment if they have been arrested or convicted of a crime.

There are certain state and federal laws that specifically state that if an individual is arrested or convicted of a crime they may not hold certain positions or occupational licenses. These are very specific in nature and most of the time they are carefully outlined to an individual during the pre-employment and hiring process. This makes it so employees and employers are on the same page that if Employee A is arrested or convicted of Crime B.  They will be terminated and cannot be employed (or hold a license) for Position C.

Outside of that, however, lies a very grey area for employers and employees. In making hiring decisions, an employer can take into consideration a candidate's criminal background. For example, if a candidate applying for a bookkeeping position had been arrested and convicted of forgery or fraud, it might be reasonable to expect an the employer would not hire the candidate for that reason.

In order for employers to cover their bases and lessen legal liabilities (and potential discrimination cases with the EEOC), a background check for applicants should be run, candidates should be provided with their rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, and a solid policy in place stating the convictions that disqualify candidates from employment should be in place. Just taking information off an application may not be the best course of action.

To help employers and employees understand these matters, the EEOC in 2012 released the Enforcement Guide on Consideration of Arrests and Convictions. Typically, employment attorneys and HR professionals are a good resource to visit with about best practices.

Keep in mind that hiring decisions based on arrests or convictions should be carefully considered. For this reason, most employers shy away from asking about arrests through the application process (convictions are a different story). This allows the employer to more fairly consider the conduct in relation to a candidate's fitness for a position.

But what happens if someone gets hired with flying colors but has a little too much fun one weekend and ends up in jail?  Next week we will discuss the impact an arrest may or may not have on current employment.

Monica Bitrick is CEO if Bitrick Consulting Group, a human resources company in Idaho Falls.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Arts Council plans grand opening this weekend for ARTitorium

The green screen station at the ARTitorium on Broadway, scheduled to open to the public this weekend.
The ARTitorium on Broadway -- the Idaho Falls Arts Council's 21st century re-imagining of the Rio Theater -- will have its grand opening Friday and Saturday. Opening events will take place Friday from noon to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Adminssion will be $1 for these two days.

IFAC has described the new facility, at 271 Broadway, as a technology-driven arts center for youth. The main floor features a variety of interactive art stations, including a lighted motion wall, virtual art gallery, gigantic magnetic wall, computerized animation kiosk and life-size green screen.

Upstairs is a 170-seat theater and recording facility, equipped with a professional grade p.a. system and digital mixing gear. A jazz concert has already been scheduled for September.

Most of the interactive art stations were developed by Protozone Interactives, whose clients include The National Museum of Art, The San Francisco Exploratorium and The National Museum of Science and Industry.

The Idaho Falls Arts Council started a fund-raising drive in May 2013 to raise $241,000, the amount it said it needed to remodeling the old Rio.

A group of anonymous challenge grant donors had promised a matching amount,   but established a tight deadline. The money came through, which allowed the  Arts Council to spend $1.53 million on the facility and have it open this summer.

For more information, visit www.idahofallsarts.org.

Monday, August 11, 2014

D Street Underpass scheduled to be open Aug. 27

The D Street Underpass
No date has been set for a ribbon cutting, but the city of Idaho Falls is eyeing Aug. 27 as the day the long-awaited D Street Underpass will be open to traffic. Public Works Director Chris Fredericksen said curb and gutter, paving and some concrete curing remain to be done.

Trains began rolling over the bridge in May, months later than originally planned. The new structure will have two westbound lanes, one eastbound lane and a wide sidewalk, all at street level. Although there will be no lane specifically dedicated to bike traffic, the city has designed the lanes to be wide enought to accommodate bike traffic without trouble or incident.

Do what you love ... it's better than doing something you hate

Paul McCartney in concert last Thursday night in Salt Lake City.
You've probably heard the old adage, "Do what you love and the money will follow." I've never been totally convinced of that, but I will concede that doing what you love for money is a lot better than doing something you hate.

What if you don't need the money? The reason I ask this is I'm still buzzing from seeing Sir Paul McCartney in Salt Lake City on Thursday night. I don't describe many things as "awesome," but his show was. I have carried the Beatles in my heart for almost 50 years, so it was a big, big night for me. The Beatles were the reason I asked my parents for a guitar when I was 12. What they were doing looked like more fun than people were allowed to have, and I can't imagine what my life would have been like without their inspiration. I love singing and playing more than anything in the world, and even make a little money at it, but money isn't the point. Joy, generosity, creativity and good humor can make you whole. Sir Paul's performance Thursday night was a great reminder.

Let's get real. Here is a guy who does not need to make any more money than he already has. Although I am sure he is paid handsomely, the tickets to his show were not overpriced. My wife, son and I sat in the 14th row for less than $900. At a U2 or Rolling Stones show, the tab would have been closer to $3k, a sum I would never, ever pay.

My takeaway from the show was that McCartney, 72, gave it his all for more than two-and-a-half hours because he's still living the dream he had as a kid and loves it as much as he did the day he met John Lennon in 1957. That love is infectious, and something you can't put a price tag on.

Most of us put up with work in order to do the things we love in our free time. Today, before I go out and try to discover if there is any news to report, the question I want to ask is whether you can bring any love to what it is you do for a living? You're lucky if you can, but don't forget that we make our own luck.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

How to find out if you are underpaid

Winning the Super Bowl wasn’t enough. A four-year contract for $30 million also wasn’t enough. He is one of the NFL’s top running backs – and at the brink of preseason football the Seattle Seahawks'  Marshawn Lynch decided he was underpaid.

Yes, you heard me -- $7.5 million a year wasn’t enough for Lynch. Luckily, for Lynch and the team, the powers that be were able to “move around” some money to guarantee Lynch $1 million in incentives and roster bonuses. Not too shabby for throwing a workplace temper tantrum.

I would say 99 percent of us would never get the same results as Lynch if we refused to work until we got a raise. In fact, I would bet most of us would get fired.

So my weekly words of wisdom: Don’t pull a Lynch if you feel your are underpaid.

Regardless of whether we all think Lynch was overcompensated, compensated fairly, or underpaid, most of us are in the same boat as Lynch and wonder if we are being compensated what we are worth. According to Glassdoor.com, a recruiting Web site, 39 percent of employees feel they are not being compensated fairly for what they are asked to do.

In an ideal world, we would all like to think we are all equal and should be compensated equally as well. The fact is, when it comes to the workplace we are not all created equal and therefore are not paid equally.

Employers have a number of factors to consider with each employee’s individual pay, including education, experience, productivity, performance, responsibility levels and specialized training and knowledge. These factors are typically combined with the “market rate” for a particular position (or similar positions) in a job market.

Being underpaid is probably one of the worst feelings in the world. What could make you feel worse or more worthless than not getting fair market rate for what you spend the majority of your life doing?

If an employee does feel underpaid, it can create a lot of problems sure to impact the business, including lower productivity (why work hard if it doesn’t matter in the end?), high turnover, absenteeism and decreased morale.

Aside from asking co-workers what they make – not a great idea and forbidden by a lot of employers --  how can you tell you may not be getting what you're worth?

A great place to start is online salary surveys. The Internet has resources literally at your fingertips to help you determine the overall basis for what the “market rate” is for your position. Great sites to start with would be the U.S. Department of Labor and recruiting sites like Glassdoor.com or Careerbuilder.com.

Also, visiting with others in your industry in similar positions is a good way to gauge where your compensation sits within the market.

Next, it is good to take a look at the company performance overall. If profits and revenues are growing and your salary is staying the same over an extended period of time, it may be time to have a visit with the boss. While a strong overall company performance without raises doesn’t exactly confirm you are underpaid, it still is something to explore if you are questioning fair compensation.

If your responsibilities have grown, but your paycheck hasn’t this also could be an indicator you are underpaid. Keep in mind however that many employers will assign expanded duties to employees who are productive. While expanded duties may not equal an expanded paycheck – and could be an indicator you are underpaid – it is good to keep in mind that expanded skill sets look good on resumes for future opportunities.

If you still have gone through all of these steps and feel like you are underpaid there is nothing wrong with sitting down with your manager or supervisor to discuss your compensation concerns. Recently, I have seen that most employers do not automatically or consistently hand out raises, but rely instead on employees asking for raises. In today's workplace, you will more than likely be the party to begin the discussions.

If you decide to ask for a raise, stick to presenting facts about your responsibilities and your accomplishments and how they relate to the company. Discussing personal financial needs or overall economic conditions usually deters employers from giving raises.

In the end if you do feel you are being underpaid and your employer is not willing to work with you, the job market is back up and booming – so it may be a good time to take a peek at what else is out there.

Monica Bitrick is CEO of Bitrick Consulting Group, a human resources company in Idaho Falls.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Tyler Schwendiman building Hitt Road insurance office

Tyler Schwendiman anticipates having his Insure It All building on Hitt Road finished by November.
I've gotten a few questions about the project happening on Hitt Road just north of Chuck-O-Rama. No it is not a new restaurant, it is the new 7,973-square-foot office Tyler Schwendiman is building for his Insure It All agency.

In business for 12 years, Schwendiman and his 15 employees are under two separate roofs and running out of room at that. The building, which he anticipates having finished by November, will put everybody under one roof with room to expand. Schwendiman said he anticipates adding seven more employees after the building is finished.

The new location, at 919 S. 25th East, will also give him better visibility on a more-traveled road, and he said he plans to have a sign that will attract attention.

Schwendiman is an independent insurance agent dealing in property, auto, health and life insurance. His Web site is www.coveryourstuff.com.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Double Down Bar and Grill offers simulcast horse racing

Danielle Wilde, Steve Laflin and Rachelle Hunter at the Double Down Betting Bar and Grill, 3078 Outlet Boulevard.
Horse racing enthusiasts in the Idaho Falls area don't have to go to Sandy Downs anymore for simulcast betting. Double Down, which opened in July at 3078 Outlet Boulevard, is offering live simulcast betting in a facility that serves food and alcohol.

The business, formerly the One 16 Sports Bar and Grill, is being run by Steve and Dottie Laflin and their daughters, Rachelle Hunter and Danielle Wilde. The betting side is being run by Jim and Melissa Bernard, owners of Intermountain Racing and Entertainment.

Laflin, CEO of International Isotopes, said they had no interest in running a regular restaurant, but that the simulcast element made the proposal attractive to them.

Betting on horses in Idaho has been legal since 1963, and the Legislature authorized simulcasting in 1990. Before July 2011, however, simulcasting was only allowed at live horse racing facilities -- Sandy Downs in Bonneville County's case. That year, the Legislature passed a bill allowing simulcast horse betting from other venues, supporters arguing that off-track locations could provide a better atmosphere, food and other incentives to attract paying customers. The 2011 bill did not allow new simulcast betting venues to be set up, but instead allowed operations like the Bernards' to move.

Pari-mutuel betting is a system under which all bets are pooled together. Once the outcome of an event is determined, winning betters are paid out of the pool. The idea is that a wagerer has a better chance of getting a better return.

This past session, the Legislature approved HB220, allowing pari-mutuel betting on historical horse races. Laflin said they anticipate having 50 historical race machines installed by November. So if you want to bet on a race at Aqueduct that happened in 1996, this will allow you to.

In Idaho, proceeds from simulcast pari-mutuel betting go to youth programs run by the Idaho Horse Board and the Robert R. Lee Promise Scholarship program, which annually awards 25 scholarships to students attending state colleges and universities. The remaining funds are distributed by the Idaho State Racing Commission to improve horse racing in the state.

Idaho Falls firm makes CNBC's top 100 list for fee-only wealth management

Onyx Financial Advisors (from left): John Parry, Aaron Sautter, Lyndsay Goody, Ken Simpson and Terry Roe.
Onyx Financial Advisors, an Idaho Falls company that was started in 2005 by Ken Simpson, John Parry and Terry Roe, has been recognized by CNBC as one to the top 100 fee-only wealth management companies in the United States.

Coming  in at No. 99, Onyx was the only Idaho company to make the cut. Companies were chosen based on a number of criteria, including:

Professional designations on staff (CFP, CFA, CPA or PFS)
Relations with third-party professionals such as attorneys or CPAs
Growth of assets
Years in business
Assets under management

Firms were also evaluated based on any regulatory actions by the SEC, FINRA, state regulators, and state insurance commissioners, and could not have had any reported complaints, actions or disclosures.

Here is a link to the full CNBC story: http://www.cnbc.com/id/101619698

Friday, August 1, 2014

Downtown Shabby opens on B Street

Jamie Casella, left, and Aubree Gardner, owners of Downtown Shabby.
Downtown's newest addition is Downtown Shabby, 348 B Street, specializing in refinished furniture, picture frames, and decorative items too unique and funky to describe.

The store is being run by Jamie Casella and Aubree Gardner, who were at Morgan's Emporium until about a month ago, when they decided they wanted to be downtown.

The store features items from 14 different vendors. Although it's mostly furniture, the merchandise ranges all the way to kids' clothing.

Everything is tied together by Casella and Gardner's gift for presentation. The inside, formerly an accounting office, has been done up in a very Pinterest way. "We dated a cohesive, boutique feel," Casella said. "A lot of people like this kind of stuff."

Hours are Wednesday from 1 to 7 p.m. and Thursday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, call Casella at 206-7268 or Gardner at 201-2823. And of course you can check them out -- even like them -- on Facebook right here.

Holding back the money: Are employers paying employees what they're worth?

Interviews are so much fun aren’t they? Aside from all the grueling questions designed to determine your skill set, personality, knowledge, education and behavior patterns, one remaining question always seems to be the hardest to answer.

This question makes candidates tense up, breath harder, stammer barely audible responses and maybe even break out into a sweat. What question could be so terrifying it encourages such awkward and tense responses?

Pretty simple: How much would you like to get paid?

In defense of anyone who has ever applied for a job, this is one of the worst questions to navigate an intelligent and fair response to – ensuring you don’t respond with too high or too low a figure
without knowledge of what the position pays.

From an employer’s side, if candidates respond with a figure lower than what the position typically pays, most employers feel this is a rare treat to be able to pay someone under budget for a position. On the other hand, if a candidate asks for a figure too high usually this means there will be some serious negotiations or the candidate will not be considered.

So if this question has ever stumped you, coming from the other side, you aren’t alone and there are many others who share your pain, including employers trying to negotiate fair rates in many cases.

Anyone who has successfully completed an interview and landed a job more than likely succeeded in answering this question, or possibly was told the starting rate and you agreed to it.

However, after a few conversations with your co-workers who have inappropriately shared what they make every other week. So now you know what your co-worker makes. Maybe it’s more than you or maybe it’s less, but nevertheless it has you wondering whether you getting paid what you are worth.

A word to the wise on sharing salary information. Most companies have policies regarding confidentiality of wages, so this would not be a practice I would recommend ever.

Over the years as an employee I wondered and watched as the economy took its roller coaster of a ride to get to 2014. I have watched salary analysis through different Web sites, read statistics
through state agencies, and predicted at one time shortly after I relocated to Idaho Falls, that
I may have moved to the most underpaid city in the United States.

Then I read this great article by MSN Money this week identifying Idaho Falls as No. 1 in wage growth. Here’s the link http://t.money.msn.com/investing/5-cities-where-wages-are-
soaring#tscptmf. This is no joke.

Keep in mind this article specifically cites statistics related to increase of weekly earnings in conjunction to unemployment rates locally – so there isn’t an MSN Money investigative reporter actually working with local employers to determine who makes this list.

Does this mean employers are paying “market worth” to their employees in Idaho Falls and beyond? There’s not a simple answer to that question.

Economically, you have to remember that employees are resources for a company, subject to basic economic principles such as supply and demand and averaging pricing (wages). If an employer is not paying fairly or at least “market value” for the positions they have they are 1.) less likely to attract solid job applicants – in fact recruiting and hiring is probably a challenge for them -- and 2.) less likely to retain employees.

If there is less “supply” of a certain position or specialty in an area there is more “demand” for
people to fill those positions, which in turn means that market pricing doesn’t likely apply to these positions.

This is in turn means they can’t find people to perform the work that needs to be done and they can’t keep people in the company doing the work that needs to be done. This is a very costly way to operate, and most successful businesses see the financial feasibility and and value of paying market rates (or even above market rates) for their positions.

It also means that if you have a specialized skill set or education within certain industries, you are going to be making money like it is going out of style in contrast with your friends and family that don’t have that same education or skill set (think brain surgeons). Now this doesn’t necessarily mean that your employer is paying you fairly. If you question whether you are being paid fairly, I'll have more to say about it next week.

Monica Bitrick is the owner of Bitrick Consulting Group, a human resources consulting company in Idaho Falls.