John Wilcox, Moderator

Join The HR Specialist (a Business Management Daily publication) in celebrating the third annual “HR Professionals Week,” a five-day tribute to all that human resources pros do to make American workplaces more effective and American businesses more successful.

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With gasoline prices averaging near $4 per gallon, many employees are struggling to keep their tanks filled. For some, the added cost makes it hard to get to work each day. Are your employees sweating the gas price crisis? Is your organization doing anything to help relieve employees’ gas pains? Tell us your story.

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I’ve worked in HR for several years for smaller companies, but don’t have an HR certification. To further my career in HR and make myself more valuable to larger employers, some mention certification, but others emphasize having a degree in HR. Which is more valuable: SHRM’s PHR certification? A degree? Both?—Gienah

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We are going to have to terminate an employee whose personal life has been in turmoil for the last year. There’s no doubt he needs to go (the decision has been made), but his manager feels terrible about having to fire the man. What kind of advice can I offer the manager? What kind of help should we offer the employee?—Pete C., Colorado

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In a few weeks, hundreds of college graduates will hit the streets looking for jobs in HR. You were once in their shoes, but now you’re older and wiser—maybe thanks to advice from experienced HR mentors. What tips did they give you to help your HR career? What advice would you offer to young people eager to start an HR career?

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My fellow directors are always late for the HR-related meetings I call, usually more than 10 minutes late. I’ve tried to schedule more time between meetings, give them plenty of notice, provide all the background materials well in advance and all the other basic ideas to help keep them on time. Nothing works, and frankly, I think it shows a lack of respect for the HR function. Has anyone found something that has worked for this problem?—E.J., Minn.

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Here’s your chance to decide the winner in the “Final Four Biggest Workplace Headaches for 2011” tournament. Which of the following do you rate as the biggest workplace headache? Why?

A. Supervisors forgetting to document warnings
B. Employees on intermittent FMLA leave
C. Hostile work environment allegations
D. Employee theft

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For the last year, my supervisor has been telling me that I’ll be due for a raise “as soon as the company is back on its feet.” Well, two months ago, the executive team made a flashy presentation about our bright prospects for the coming year. I myself have processed a couple dozen salary increases for other employees. So far, not one word from my supervisor about when I might be getting a little something extra. At what point should I nudge her about this? How should I approach that awkward conversation?—Julia, SC

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Several of our managers want to hire college interns this summer. I explained the specific legal and payroll requirements of using interns—that we will probably have to pay them—and the managers are fine with that. What I want to know is, what’s the best way to integrate interns into our day-to-day work, so it’s a good learning experience for the students, beneficial to our operations and a minimal disruption? Does anyone have experience using interns? What pitfalls should we be aware of?—Luke, Ohio

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My company gives awards (bonus checks) to employees who have worked five, 10, 15 and 20 years. In the past we’ve gone from inviting the entire company to an annual dinner where those being honored were presented their checks to only the honorees and their supervisors attending the dinner. This year, we’re considering cutting back even more. I’d like to learn how other companies honor their long-standing employees.—Terri

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