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|June 22, 2016 ||
Vol. 48 No. 4
GBA has updated its number-one, all-time most-popular resource — Important Information about This Geotechnical-Engineering Report. Some of the language has been modified, at least one new term is used, one section has been eliminated, and two sections have been modified substantially. Literally millions of copies of the previous versions are in print or virtual print. Only GBA-Member Firms have the right to insert the document "as-is." And members get them for free. Get your copy now!
Challenger, Gray & Christmas
While exit interviews may be informative, continually more companies are investing in "stay interviews" as a means to hang onto their best talent by learning what's most likely to increase employees' job satisfaction and engagement. When performed properly, exit interviews can reveal what companies are doing well and what they need to do better; identify skill sets, experience, and attributes best suited for the position; and capture useful knowledge, contact information, and tips from departing employees. Stay interviews should be designed to capture the same information, while examining the reasons why employees are staying vs. leaving. More than 50 of the 100 HR executives who responded to a recent Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. survey said their companies were already conducting stay interviews (principally to reduce turnover) or planned to do so soon. To help, the Society for Human Resource Management has developed a list of questions. Just a few include:
As has been said time and time again, it takes more than higher wages to keep people happy. In fact, a 2014 job-satisfaction survey of 200,000 people found that being appreciated for their work is the most-important factor for keeping employees happy on the job.
- What do you look forward to on your way to work each day?
- What do you like most about working here?
- What do you like least about working here?
- What keeps you working here?
Commercial office-space leases favor landlords, but lease agreements — like most other contracts — are negotiable. According to real-estate executive Troy Golden, you should try to add at least three elements to the agreement: an extension option would guarantee your ability to renew the lease for a predetermined amount or maximum amount for a given period (e.g., one year) or for a period of your choice (one year, two years, etc.). It could also give you the right to obtain more space. A termination option would allow you to exit early from your lease. You'll probably have to pay something, but how much? What should you give credit for? What might you have to reimburse? A right of first refusal would give you the right to lease additional, specified space by matching the highest verified offer the owner receives. You'd want to indicate when the owner must notify you of another offer and whether or not your extension option for your existing space would apply to the new space. There's a lot more to it than just that, of course. This is a good article to read.
The Huffington Post
The United States has 87,000 dams; 7 of every 10 will be more than 50 years old by 2020. Some — including the Hoover Dam — have deteriorated to potentially deadly degrees. New legislation is expected to put $4.6 billion into water-resource projects, but that's not nearly enough, especially for dams, given that more than half of them are privately owned, regulated by state dam-safety agencies. Many dams were originally located in rural areas, and thus were considered low-hazard. Today, development has transformed many rural locations into thriving suburban communities, causing the dams to become high-hazard; i.e., if they fail, people will die. Consider what happened in South Carolina when torrential rains caused as many as 25 dams to fail, killing 17. The international situation is not much better; e.g., Iraq's largest dam, in Mosul, is close to failing, putting up to 1.47 million Iraqis at risk. Is your firm involved in dam-related services? Should it be?
The Associated Press via The Times-Picayune
The federal government has given New Orleans $250 million for "The Greater New Orleans Urban Water Plan." The plan's implementation will convert entire neighborhoods into green-infrastructure experiments, where the more-than-60 inches of rain New Orleans experiences each year will be filtered and stored naturally, instead of flushed with ditches and pumps. If the experiments work, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development will encourage more cities to follow suit, to prepare for the ever-more-powerful storms and sea-level rise caused by climate change, and increasing urbanization. The plan also addresses the city's subsidence problem, by calling for installation of a series of detention ponds in a 25-acre green space in the Gentilly neighborhood, to divert as much as 9 million gallons of water from the drainage system. By collecting water there, the water table should rise and so counter subsidence in surrounding areas. Does your firm offer green-infrastructure services? Should it?
When it comes to titles, like the title of a geoprofessional report, song, or government program, you have two approaches to capitalization: Capitalize every word or, more commonly, capitalize all words except articles (a, an, and the), conjunctions (and, but, or, etc.), and prepositions (e.g., to, in, under, and for), unless one of them is the first word of a title, like The Creature That Ate Sheboygan. You may have been taught to deny capitalization to little words, like is; just two letters. Dumb, on the other hand, would be capitalized, given its four letters. What happens, then, when the word is isn't, which has four letters and an apostrophe? And perhaps more to the point, what happens when you have important little words like pi, ox, ax, and no? "Make exceptions," some grammarians would say, which would make an already-confusing language even more so. Every-word capitalization is the simplest approach, of course, but it can look strange. If that bothers you, try the best alternative just described.
Mark your calendar for these two outstanding GBA get-togethers, and be on the lookout for announcements about others being finalized.
For a complete list of upcoming events, click here.
Dodge Data & Analytics via PR Newswire
A Dodge Data & Analytics study report — Building a Safety Culture SmartMarket Report — reveals that constructors are deriving more benefits from their safety-management practices in general and that more constructors than ever before are recognizing the importance of actively engaging jobsite workers to improve project safety. Some of the benefits being reported by the top third of constructors that have established a "high-end safety culture" include:
According to Pete Stafford, executive director of the Center for Construction Research and Training, one of the study's sponsors, "It's especially pleasing to see that in 2015 — as in 2012 — the leading driver for continuous improvement was concern for their workers' well-being." The report is available for free download.
- improved project quality (88%),
- increased project ROI (75%),
- improved staff retention (79%), and
- more ability to attract new staff (67%).
What are seven costly mistakes even the most seasoned road warriors commonly make?
Avoiding these mistakes — and saving a good chunk of change — is actually pretty easy.
- Paying ATM and foreign-transaction fees;
- not checking travel and lodging prices after you reserve, given common price fluctuations (and there's an app for that!);
- checking a bag;
- staying in hotels;
- eating out;
- driving or taking cabs; and
- ignoring rewards programs.
|GRAPE PRESS: Three Great (Value) Wines
Here are three great wines that represent extraordinary value. The first is Sebastiani Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, a dark-fruited, full-bodied wine Parker rated at 90 points ("outstanding"). He called it "an amazing value" and said it would last, like most $150 bottles from Sonoma and Napa, 15 or more years. We've seen it for less than $11. Vignerons de l'ile de Beaute Corse XX270 2013 is a magnificent French Syrah that Wine Advocate reviewer (and former Rhone Report publisher) Jeff Dunnick lauded with 93 points. He described it as having "an inky purple color to go with incredible granite influence in its liquid rock, blackberry, raspberry, floral and peppery bouquet. Medium to full-bodied, with incredible purity, this is a seriously elegant, classically styled Syrah to drink over the coming decade." The price — as low as $16/bottle — is almost an insult. Finally, our very favorite bottle of tawny port, that rivals just about anyone's. (We tasted head to head with a vintage tawny port costing $150/bottle; this was better.) Its name is Hardy's Whiskers Blake. The price is about $9/bottle. We’ve seen it rated as high as 95 points.
| || 2016-2017 GBA BOARD OF DIRECTORS|
Laura R. Reinbold, P.E.
(Terracon / Nashville, TN)
Charles L. Head, P.E., P.G.
(Sanborn, Head & Associates, Inc. / Concord, NH)
Woodward L. Vogt, P.E., D.GE, F.ACI, F.ASCE, F.ASTM
(Paradigm Consultants, Inc. / Houston, TX)
Thomas W. Blackburn, P.E., G.E., F.ASCE
(Blackburn Consulting / Auburn, CA)
Arthur G. Hoffmann, P.E., D.GE
(Gannett Fleming, Inc. / Harrisburg, PA)
Kenneth R. Johnston
(GZA GeoEnvironmental, Inc. / Norwood, MA)
Kimberly F. Morrison, P.E., R.G.
(Morrison Geotechnical Solutions, Inc. / Denver, CO)
Alex Sy, Ph.D., P. Eng.
(Klohn Crippen Berger Ltd. / Vancouver, BC)
7701 Las Colinas Ridge, Ste. 800, Irving, TX 75063