Hot Topics in Total Rewards

  • 25 Apr 2022 4:11 PM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)

    MARCH 28, 2022 by RICHARD FRY

    Women in the United States continue to earn less than men, on average. Among full-time, year-round workers in 2019, women’s median annual earnings were 82% those of men.

    The gender wage gap is narrower among younger workers nationally, and the gap varies across geographical areas. In fact, in 22 of 250 U.S. metropolitan areas, women under the age of 30 earn the same amount as or more than their male counterparts, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of Census Bureau data.

    How we did this

    Men in the United States have long earned more than women, on average, but this gender wage gap has slowly narrowed over time. The gap tends to be smaller among younger workers. This analysis examines the extent to which the gender wage gap among young workers also varies across metro areas.

    The analysis is based on the American Community Survey (ACS), the largest household survey in the U.S., with a sample of more than 3 million addresses. It covers the topics previously covered in the long form of the decennial census. The ACS is designed to provide estimates of the size and characteristics of the nation’s resident population, which includes persons living in households and group quarters.

    The specific 2015-2019 five-year ACS microdata sample used here was provided by the Integrated Public Use Microdata Series (IPUMS) from the University of Minnesota. IPUMS assigns uniform codes, to the extent possible, to data collected in the ACS.

    The 2019 ACS data is the most recent available. The collection of the 2020 data was severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Based on the 2010 census, the U.S. Office of Management and Budget delineated 384 metropolitan statistical areas. The IPUMS ACS provides information on 260 metros. As explained in the documentation for MET2013, there is an imprecise correspondence between the metro boundaries in the ACS data and the official metro area boundaries. This analysis uses information for only 250 metros because 10 metros had an insufficient number of young full-time, year-round working women living in them to provide accurate estimates.

    A “full-time, year-round worker” worked at least 50 weeks in the year prior to the interview date and usually worked at least 35 hours per week. Among women workers under 30, 43% work full time, year-round.

    Recent Pew Research Center analyses of the gender pay gap examine the median hourly wage of both full- and part-time workers using the Current Population Survey (CPS). The CPS does not provide information on individual metropolitan areas. The CPS and ACS provide similar estimates of the gender pay gap for the U.S. Using the CPS, the Census Bureau estimates that the gender earnings gap for full-time, year-round workers ages 15 and older was 82% for 2019, matching that derived from the ACS.

    A map showing that young women earn at least as much as young men in 22 U.S. metros

    The New York, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles metropolitan areas are among the cities where young women are earning the most relative to young men. In both the New York and Washington metro areas, young women earn 102% of what young men earn when examining median annual earnings among full-time, year-round workers. In the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim metro area, the median earnings for women and men in this age group were identical in 2019. (For data on earnings and the gender gap for 250 U.S. metropolitan areas, read this Google sheet.)

    Overall, about 16% of all young women who are working full time, year-round live in the 22 metros where women are at or above wage parity with men.

    A table showing the U.S. metro areas where young women earn the most and least relative to young men

    There are 107 metros where young women earn between 90% and 99% of what young men earn. Nearly half (47%) of young women working full time, year-round lived in these areas in 2019.

    In another 103 metros, young women earn between 80% and 89% of what men earn. These areas were home to 17% of young women who were employed full time, year-round in 2019.

    And in 14 metros, young women’s earnings were between 70% and 79% those of men in 2019. About 1% of the young women’s workforce lived in these metros.

    In four metro areas – Mansfield, Ohio; Odessa, Texas; Beaumont-Port Arthur, Texas; and Elkhart-Goshen, Indiana – women younger than 30 earn between 67% and 69% of what their male counterparts make. These metros account for 0.3% of the young women’s workforce. (Some 19% of young women in the workforce are employed in metros where earnings data is not available or are in nonmetropolitan areas.)

    A bar chart showing that the gender wage gap among young workers in the U.S. is widest in Midwestern metro areas

    From a regional perspective, metropolitan areas in the Midwest tend to have wider gender wage gaps among young workers. Young women working full time, year-round in Midwestern metros earn about 90% of their male counterparts. In other regions, by comparison, young women earn 94% or more of what young men earn.

    Nationally, women under 30 who work full time, year-round earn about 93 cents on the dollar compared with men in the same age range, measured at the median. As these women age, history suggests that they may not maintain this level of parity with their male counterparts. For example, in 2000, the typical woman age 16 to 29 working full time, year-round earned 88% of a similar young man. By 2019, when people in this group were between the ages of 35 and 48, women were earning only 80% of their male peers, on average. Earnings parity tends to be greatest in the first years after entering the labor market.

    Labor economists examine earnings disparities among full-time, year-round workers in order to control for differences in part-time employment between men and women as well as attachment to the labor market. However, even among full-time, year-round workers, men and women devote different amounts of time to work. Men under 30 usually work 44 hours per week, on average, compared with 42 hours among young women.

    Note: For data on earnings and the gender gap for 250 U.S. metropolitan areas, read this Google sheet.

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    Source: Pew Research Center

    https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2022/03/28/young-women-are-out-earning-young-men-in-several-u-s-cities/

  • 25 Apr 2022 4:08 PM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)

    Published April 18, 2022 by Maura Webber Sadovi 

    Dive Brief:

    • More than half (56%) of workers surveyed cited pay and bonus as among the top factors that would be most important to them when considering whether to jump to a new employer, followed by health benefits (39%), job security (33%), flexible work arrangements (31%) and retirement benefits (29%), according to a report from global advisory firm Willis Towers Watson (WTW). Pay and bonus was also the top factor cited by workers as among the most important reasons to stay with their current employer, followed by job security, health benefits, flexible work arrangements and work that provides a “sense of purpose.”

    • A rising percentage — nearly half — of employees surveyed said their company’s retirement (47%) and healthcare plans (48%) were an important reason they decided to work for their current employers, compared with less than a third (29%) that cited the plans in 2015, according to the report. 

    • Well over half of the employees (60%) cited their employers’ retirement and healthcare benefits as an important reason for sticking with their current company, up from 48% who cited retirement in 2019 and just 54% who cited healthcare, in both cases marking a more than decade high in the benefits’ role in retaining workers. ore

    Dive Insight:

    Attracting and retaining employees are key issues for many CFOs who are facing the tightest labor market in decades while also fighting rising costs on other fronts as inflation has soared to a four-decade high. Many finance chiefs are aiming to hold on to employees this year by giving them raises above 3% but that may not be enough as inflation outpaces pay gains, experts say

    While employees still see pay as the most “compelling reason to stay or leave a company, health and retirement benefits have become a much more significant factor in their decision-making process,” Monica Martin, senior director, retirement, at WTW, said in a statement. “In this tight labor market, organizations that understand the importance that employees place on these core benefits and that provide highly valued benefit programs can differentiate themselves in their effort to become an employer of choice.”

    Some of the top retirement options cited by respondents as offerings that would be most helpful to employees included: a guaranteed retirement benefit (cited by 62%), more generous retirement benefits generally (58%), retiree medical benefits (53%) and flexibility to use retirement monies for short-term needs (37%).  

    Of the top options that would most improve flexible work arrangements respondents cited more generous paid time off and sick leave (50%), the option to work from home/anywhere (47%), the option to select when work occurs (45%) and policies that respect personal time outside of work (35%). 

    Respondents asked which health-related benefits would most help them cited a generally more generous healthcare plan (46%), health screenings and risk assessments (42%) and a more generous dental plan (37%). And nearly half of employees (46%) said they would give up higher pay for a more generous healthcare plan versus 36% in 2020.

    The 2022 Global Benefits Attitudes Survey queried 9,600 U.S. employees from large and midsize private companies across a range of industries from December through January.


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    Source: CFO Dive

    https://www.cfodive.com/news/workers-cite-retirement-healthcare-key-retention-embargoedhold-f/622236/

  • 31 Mar 2022 1:57 PM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)

    Photo of a healthcare worker in her office writing something on a notepad

    March 23, 2022 by Nick Bunker and AnnElizabeth Konkel

    Wages have picked up in higher-wage industries, but have cooled slightly in lower-wage industries.

    Key takeaways:

    • Spotlight: Wage growth remains strong, but the origins of those gains are shifting. Wages have cooled slightly in lower-wage industries while picking up in higher-wage industries.
    • The US labor market remains hot as demand for workers has outstripped the willingness of many workers to take those jobs.
    • This imbalance is the root cause of the current strong wage growth, albeit gains that have been diluted by high levels of inflation.
    • Employment levels are recovering in response to elevated levels of employer demand, but have not yet returned to pre-pandemic levels.

    Spotlight: A Rotation in Wage Growth

    Wage growth remains strong, but the source of those strong gains have changed. Since the summer, wage growth has slowed for workers in lower-wage industries while it has increased for workers employed in higher-wage industries. Wage growth in industries such as department stores, food services and drinking places, and child daycare services has tempered, while gains for workers in industries including hospitals and legal services have increased.

    The slowdown for lower-wage industries implies that some of the factors giving workers extraordinary leverage last summer have faded. The largest gulfs between demand and supply in these lower-wage, in-person industries seem to have shrunk. The result is slower wage growth, but a pace of gains that is still elevated.

    At the same time, the broadening of wage growth is an important trend in itself. The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta’s Wage Growth Tracker shows raises are becoming more common among workers. More workers seeing wage gains mean that wages and total incomes could continue to grow briskly even if gains slow among lower-income workers.

    Bar graph titled “The ‘tilt’ of wage growth is changing”

    Bar graph titled “The ‘tilt’ of wage growth is changing” with a vertical axis ranging from 0% to 14%, The graph shows the 3-month annualize growth rate of average hourly earnings for workers in low-wage, middle-wage, and higher-wage industries in August 2021 and January 2022. Wage growth for workers in lower-wage industries has slowed from 11.4% in August 2021 to 7.6% in January 2022. At the same time, wage growth for workers in higher-wage industries has grown from 2.6% in August to 5% in January. 

    Labor Market Overview

    The US labor market remains hot. Demand for labor has grown much more quickly than supply as the US economy has quickly recovered from the initial COVID-19 shock. The result has been quickly rebounding employment, fast wage growth and joblessness approaching but not yet at pre-pandemic levels. This forward momentum faces potential speed bumps and roadblocks in the form of quickly tightening monetary policy, geopolitical instability, and new variants of COVID-19.

    Line graph titled “Job postings on Indeed, United States.”

    Line graph titled “Job postings on Indeed, United States.” With a vertical axis ranging from -25% to 50%, Indeed tracked with two lines, the percent change in seasonally adjusted job postings and non-seasonally adjusted job postings between February 1, 2020 and March 18, 2022. On March 18, 2022, seasonally adjusted job postings were 58.6% above February 1, 2020, the pre-pandemic baseline while non-seasonally adjusted job postings were up 65.9%.

    Employer demand for workers remains strong. Indeed job postings are 58.6% above their pre-pandemic baseline, but overall growth in labor demand has slowed in recent months. However this decline has been driven by our adjustment for seasonal fluctuations as non-adjusted postings are above their 2021 year-end level. Occupational sector variation is plentiful, HR job postings are 128% above pre-pandemic baseline but growth in low advertised wage occupations has declined. 

    Strong wage growth, but inflation eating away gains

    This strong demand for workers, with acute hiring difficulties across different sectors, has driven wage growth higher than at any point in over 20 years, with wages growing at almost 6% on a year-over-year basis. While nominal wage gains may be strong, high levels of inflation are eating away gains for many employees. One of the biggest questions for the US economy is what will happen to the pace of nominal wage growth. The rate at which employers are bidding up wages might temper, but inflation would have to drop even more in order for inflation-adjusted raises to become more common.

    Line graph titled “Wage growth remains elevated”

    Line graph titled “Wage growth remains elevated” with a vertical axis ranging from 1 % to 6% and a horizontal axis that covers January 2007 to February 2022. The data graphed are the year-over-year change in the Employment Cost Index wage measure for private sector workers excluding those in incentive-paid occupations and the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta’s Wage Growth Tracker. Both series show strong rises in 2021 with the Wage Growth Tracker metric showing even stronger growth so far in 2022.

    Prime-age workers are returning to work

    Labor supply has not grown as swiftly as demand, but people are returning to work. Measures such as the labor force participation rate and the employment-to-population ratio have been sluggish, but a solid rebound has been masked by the aging of the population. Looking at these statistics for people in their prime working years shows much stronger growth in employment and labor force participation.

    Line graph titled “Employment recoveries have differed among age groups”

    Line graph titled “Employment recoveries have differed among age groups” with a vertical axis ranging from 0 % to -35% and a horizontal axis that covers Feb 2020  to February 2022. The data graphed are the percent change in the employment-to-population ratios for different age groups. The graph shows a very steep decline for workers ages 16-24 in spring 2020 compared to workers ages 25 to 54 and those 55 years and older. However, the recovery has been much stronger for young workers and those 25 to 54. The employment-to-population ratio is most depressed for older workers.

    Muted rise in urgent job search 

    While many people are taking new jobs, the rise in urgency among job seekers has been relatively muted, according to our most recent Indeed Job Search survey data. While more workers are reporting they are searching urgently, the increase is far slower than the rebound in jobs. The pickup in employment is being driven by workers who are being enticed by employers, rather than feeling a need to urgently find new work.

    Line graph titled “Urgent job search among the jobless has risen since the summer”

    Line graph titled “Urgent job search among the jobless has risen since the summer” with a vertical axis ranging from 0 % to 25% and a horizontal axis that covers June 2021 to March 2022. The data graphed are the share of the employed and jobless who are actively and urgently looking for work and those who are actively but not urgently looking for work. The shares of both jobless and employed people actively and urgently looking for work have moved up in recent months, but the upward trend is more enduring among jobless people. 

    Elevated quits rate

    Employed workers are also finding new work. The quits rate is at levels not seen in the 21st century with 3.2% of private sector workers voluntarily leaving their jobs in January 2022. This high volume of quitting has been driven by the strong demand for workers and is concentrated in industry sectors such as manufacturing, leisure and hospitality, and retail trade.

    Line graph titled “The quits rate is well above pre-pandemic levels”

    Line graph titled “The quits rate is well above pre-pandemic levels” with a vertical axis ranging from 1.5 % to 3.5% and a horizontal axis that covers January 2019  to January 2022. The data graphed are the share of the employed workers who voluntarily left their job during the month with a line for all workers and a line for private sector workers. Both lines show elevated quits rates with the all workers series at 2.8% and the private sector at 3.2% in January 2022.

    The recent US labor market has offered a variety of opportunities for workers while presenting some challenges to employers. However, the present situation can and will change. We will continue to monitor the above trends and track others as the labor market evolves.  

    Methodology

    Data on seasonally-adjusted Indeed job postings in this blog post are the percentage change in seasonally-adjusted job postings since February 1, 2020, using a seven-day trailing average. February 1, 2020, is our pre-pandemic baseline. We seasonally adjust each series based on historical patterns in 2017, 2018, and 2019. We adopted this methodology in January 2021. Data for June 24-30, 2021, November 1, 2021, January 1, 2022, January 27, 2022 and January 28, 2022 are missing and were interpolated. Non-seasonally adjusted data are calculated in a similar manner except that the data are not adjusted to historical patterns.

    The data on job postings are based on publicly available information on the Indeed US website and any other countries if named in the post. Unless specified otherwise, it is limited to the United States, is not a projection of future events, and includes both paid and unpaid job solicitations. US Armed Forces job postings are excluded.

    The data from the Job Search Survey is based on ten online surveys of 5,000 US adults ages 18-64, starting in late May 2021 and through March 2022. The first survey was conducted May 26-June 3, the second July 12-20, and the third August 10-18,  the fourth from September 13 – 29 and fifth from October 11-20 and the sixth from November 8 – 18 the seventh from December 6 – 22 , the eight from January 10 – 24, the ninth from February 7 – 21, and the most recent from March 7 – 21. Weights were applied to each survey to match respondent distributions across age, educational attainment, race/ethnicity, and sex with the 2020 Current Population Survey’s Annual Social and Economic Supplement. 

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    Source: Indeed Hiring Lab

    https://www.hiringlab.org/2022/03/23/march-2022-us-labor-market-update/

  • 31 Mar 2022 1:54 PM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)

    The Great Resignation: Why 80% of Tech Employees are Seeking Alternative Employment | HackerNoon

    BY RICK CHEN | POSTED ONMARCH 10, 2022

    As many as four out of five professionals are considering looking for another job in the next three months, according to a survey from the professional social network Blind. The data may indicate the “Great Resignation” is likely to continue, especially for in-demand tech workers.

    But there may be more bad news for some executives looking to keep talent at their company.

    The number of professionals who said they had considered looking for another job in the next three months is as high as 95% of survey respondents at Better and PayPal. Indeed, employees at financial services companies, including American ExpressCapital OneDeloitteGoldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase, were among the most likely to say they wanted out from their current role.

    Large technology companies are not immune from the phenomenon. More than four out of five verified professionals at AmazonDellIBMMicrosoftOracle and Salesforce polled by Blind might have one foot out the door.

    Professionals taking “concrete steps”

    While it may be expected that people on a professional social network would be more open to new career opportunities than others, Blind found many workers had taken concrete steps already and as recently as the last month.

    Nearly three out of five professionals (57%) said they had applied for a job in the past month.

    “It’s not a ‘Great Resignation,’” said a verified Salesforce professional on Blind. “This is a shift of control to the workers. People are getting better jobs.”

    The cloud-computing company professional continued: “It’s more aptly named ‘The Great Career Upgrade.’ People are leaving s—ty jobs for better ones.”

    About three out of four workers (74%) answered “yes” when asked by Blind if they had communicated with a recruiter in the last month. Headhunters seemed to have the most success with their job pitches at Amazon, CiscoExpediaSAPVMware and Wayfair—companies whose employees had a higher-than-average response rate than others in Blind’s analysis.

    Perhaps more startlingly, nearly half of all professionals (49%) in Blind’s survey said they had interviewed with another company in the last month. Even employees at the juggernauts and popular workplaces AppleBloombergGoogle, Facebook-owner MetaTwitter and Uber have recently sought greener pastures.

    What is a better job?

    While the American workforce is diverse, their idea of what makes a better job is almost anything but.

    Compensation was the No. 1 answer by an overwhelming majority of professionals. When asked by Blind what was one thing their current company could do to keep them, thousands of professionals responded with everything from stock-based compensation to desires of pay raises. The most common asks were “25%,” “30%,” and even some cheeky respondents who sought a doubling of their salary.

    Alternatively, companies looking for an easy way to prevent employee attrition might consider the continued opportunity to work from home or an indefinite delay to return-to-office plans. The demand for “full” or “100%” remote work remains top-of-mind for many workers, even after two years of the public health orders that sent people home and left many workplaces empty.

    Other recurring replies to Blind’s survey included the hope for “better benefits,” promotions and other opportunities for professional growth, and work-life balance.

    While recently popular, a four-day workweek or company-enforced and paid “recharge” breaks came up rarely.

    The bottom line

    A majority of workers may be in the job market, especially in the red-hot technology industry. According to a recent survey by Blind, 80% of professionals said they are considering looking for another job in the next three months. Additionally, one half or more have applied for a job, communicated with a recruiter or interviewed with another company in the last month.

    Methodology

    Blind conducted an online survey of 6,802 verified professionals in the U.S. on its platform from March 2 to 8, 2022, to understand whether employees intend to quit for another job amid the “Great Resignation.”

    Survey respondents answered “yes” or “no” to the following questions:

    • Are you considering looking for another job in the next three months?
    • In the last month, have you applied for a job?
    • In the last month, have you communicated with a recruiter?
    • In the last month, have you interviewed with another company?

    The survey also asked: “If you are considering another job, what is one thing your company could do to keep you?” Blind anonymized and aggregated the responses to the open-ended question in its analysis.

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    Source: Blind Blog – Workplace Insights

    https://www.teamblind.com/blog/index.php/2022/03/10/great-resignation-tech-jobs-hiring/

  • 25 Mar 2022 2:34 PM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)

    DOL Warns 401(k) Plans Against Allowing Crypto Investments

    Guidance stops short of a blanket cryptocurrency prohibition

    By Percy LeeMarch 22, 2022

    The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) is warning 401(k) plan fiduciaries to "exercise extreme care" before considering whether to include a cryptocurrency option in a plan investment menu.

    The sternly worded guidance, in Compliance Assistance Release No. 2022-01, published March 10, reveals heightened skepticism of 401(k) cryptocurrency investments and predicts new DOL enforcement activity for fiduciaries who permit 401(k) participants to invest in cryptocurrencies.

    Crypto's Lukewarm Reception by Retirement Plans

    Cryptocurrencies are digital currency created and exchanged over a decentralized computer network. Although Bitcoin is the first and best-known cryptocurrency, thousands of cryptocurrencies now exist.

    Created to facilitate transactions free from governmental and third-party interference, cryptocurrencies have gained notoriety as volatile investments. Large institutional investors have been circumspect in investing in cryptocurrency, with defined benefit pension plans showing greater reticence than university endowments and family offices.

    Investment in crypto assets by defined contribution plans remains uncommon, and most leading 401(k) record keepers do not permit cryptocurrencies to be traded directly on their platforms. Recently, however, several companies have begun to market services that would allow 401(k) plan participants to invest in cryptocurrency using specialized cryptocurrency exchanges.

    Simmering DOL Wariness

    The guidance follows President Biden's March 9 executive order directing federal agencies, including the DOL, to coordinate in developing a national policy that promotes the "responsible development and use of digital assets." However, Ali Khawar, acting head of the DOL Employee Benefits Security Administration, indicated as early as summer 2021 that the agency found 401(k) plan investment in cryptocurrency "very troubling" because of the volatility and lack of transparency of crypto investments.

    In a March 10 blog post accompanying the new guidance, Khawar repeated the DOL's concerns about exposing plan participants to direct investments in cryptocurrencies and related products, such as non-fungible tokens, coins and crypto assets.

    A Warning to Fiduciaries: Five Concerns

    Plan fiduciaries must follow duties of prudence and loyalty under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), which courts have described as the "highest known to the law." Citing the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in Hughes v. Northwestern University, the guidance reminds fiduciaries that they must select and monitor each investment option made available to plan participants to ensure its appropriateness. The guidance identifies five areas of concern facing 401(k) plan investment in cryptocurrency:

    • Volatility and speculative nature of crypto investments.
      The guidance attributes the extreme price volatility of cryptocurrency investments to uncertainties in valuation, speculative conduct, fictitious trading, theft/fraud and other factors.
    • Difficulty of enabling informed decisions.
      Cryptocurrency investments have dominated headlines for large gains and losses. The guidance states that this exposure can make it challenging even for experts to separate the facts from the hype and can attract participants who expect high returns without appreciating the risks. The difficulty is exacerbated if participants construe the availability of such investments in a plan investment menu as fiduciaries' endorsement of them.
    • Custodial and record-keeping concerns.
      The guidance notes that unlike traditional plan assets that are held in trust or custodial accounts, readily available to pay benefits and plan expenses, cryptocurrencies generally exist as lines of computer code in a digital wallet and are susceptible to loss and theft.
    • Valuation concerns.
       The guidance describes concerns about the reliability and accuracy of cryptocurrency valuations, noting expert disagreements on valuation models and the lack of consistent accounting treatment and reporting, as well as data integrity requirements, among cryptocurrency market intermediaries.
    • Unstable regulatory environment.
      The guidance states that the rapidly evolving regulatory landscape for cryptocurrency markets poses considerable risks of noncompliance with respect to issuance, investments, trading and other activities. The DOL further cites cautions by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) that cryptocurrencies have been used in illegal activities. Consumers who invest in cryptocurrency could be affected if law enforcement agencies shut down or restrict the use of platforms and exchanges.

    Based on these concerns, the guidance issues a direct warning to 401(k) plan fiduciaries who allow participants to invest in cryptocurrencies and related products, concluding that the DOL expects to conduct an investigative program aimed at protecting participants and beneficiaries of plans that offer such investments.

    Fiduciaries of such plans should expect to respond to questions about their compliance with ERISA duties of prudence and loyalty.

    Departures from Previous DOL Guidance

    The DOL has taken an aggressive position. First, the guidance takes the unusual step of singling out a specific asset class for additional enforcement scrutiny, even if it falls short of imposing a blanket prohibition on offering crypto assets to 401(k) participants. Fiduciaries may note that the DOL's position is more stringent than the ones expressed in the June 2020 information letter and December 2021 supplement statement regarding private equity investments in 401(k) funds, which are permissible as part of a diversified fund that is properly vetted and contains features designed to alleviate the liquidity and valuation concerns of private equity investments.

    In contrast, the guidance on cryptocurrencies leaves little room for doubt that the DOL discourages crypto investments in 401(k) plans. It offers no concession for diversified investments similar to those described in the June 2020 information letter.

    Brokerage Windows

    The guidance on cryptocurrencies also appears to extend its warning not only to plans that offer crypto through the plan's menu of designated investment funds, but also to plans that let participants invest in stocks, bonds and other securities through an open platform referred to as a brokerage window. This suggests, contrary to prevailing guidance, that the DOL may expect plan fiduciaries not only to prudently select a brokerage window provider, but also to monitor the underlying investments made available through a brokerage window.

    Conclusion

    As cryptocurrency investments grow in popularity and mainstream consciousness, fiduciaries of 401(k) and similar plans may face questions from participants about the availability of cryptocurrency investments. The latest DOL guidance makes clear that an abundance of caution is warranted.

    Fiduciaries who are considering adding cryptocurrency investments to 401(k) plans should reconsider their decision in light of this guidance and proceed only after weighing the risks of DOL investigation and fiduciary litigation and documenting the decision-making process.

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    Source: The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM)

    https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/benefits/pages/dol-warns-401k-plans-against-allowing-crypto-investments.aspx


  • 25 Mar 2022 2:27 PM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)

    Pay is a pain point for Google employees | Fortune

    By: Colin Lodewick | March 15, 2022

    The results of Google’s famous annual survey are out, and it seems that employees aren’t as happy about their compensation as they used to be. 

    The “Googlegeist” measures employee satisfaction with regards to things like leadership, compensation, diversity, and company values. The company conducted its 2022 survey in January, and the results were obtained by CNBC.   

    Around 53% of Google employees said their pay is competitive — a drop of 5 points from last year, while 56% said their pay is “fair and equitable” — down 8 points, according to the survey. In the company’s cloud division, the number of participants who described the promotional process as fair declined 2 points, to 54%.

    Competitive pay has become a major issue for companies big and small across all industries, as they fight to attract and retain their workers.

    More workers are quitting jobs than ever before, in a movement that has been dubbed “The Great Resignation.” At least 4 million workers have left their jobs every month since July 2021, peaking in November with the highest number of quits ever recorded by the Bureau of Labor Statistics since it started keeping track in 2000. 

    Tech companies—a traditionally hot sector—are scrambling to keep up. In February, Amazon announced that it was doubling its maximum base salary to $350,000 in the face of a competitive labor market.

    Alphabet CEO Sundhar Pichai told employees in an email announcing the results that the survey is “one of the most important ways” the company gauges workplace satisfaction, CNBC reported. 

    "We know that our employees have many choices about where they work, so we work to ensure that they are very well compensated," said a Google spokesperson in a statement shared with Fortune. "That's why we've always provided top of market compensation across salary, equity, leave, and a suite of benefits. Getting employee feedback is important and we'll continue to ensure we pay competitively everywhere our employees work and help them grow their careers at Google.”

    Leadership and Google’s overall mission received relatively high scores; Pichai received a favorability rating of 86%, while the company’s mission to “organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” was rated at 90%. Employees gave the company’s values an 85% favorability rating.

    The Googlegeist survey also comes at a time when more companies, including tech giants, are navigating return-to-office plans. Google plans to bring its workforce back April 4, while Meta is slated to return March 28—both companies are offering their workforce hybrid schedules. 

    But not all the tech giants are requiring a return to the office. Twitter, LinkedIn and Salesforce are all offering employees the opportunity to work from home indefinitely.This year’s survey is not the only sign of employee dissatisfaction at Google. In January of last year, a coalition of Google employees announced the formation of the Alphabet Workers Union to advocate for workplace equity and the ideal of tech being used only for good.

    Source: Fortune

    https://fortune.com/2022/03/15/google-googlegeist-survey-employees-unhappy-with-pay/

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    Google employees say its return-to-office plan is unfair

    Googlers said the company enforces remote work policies for some, but not others.

    By: Lizzy Lawrence | March 16, 2022

    Some Google employees are calling out the company for unevenly applying its remote work policies, Business Insider reported Tuesday. Google is bringing Bay Area employees back to the office at least three days per week starting April 4. But while some team members are spared from in-person work policies, others are no longer allowed to work remotely, employees say.

    Employees raised their complaints at a company all-hands last Thursday, submitting questions through a system called Dory. Two popular questions involved remote work, according to Insider.

    "Google made record profits through the pandemic (and WFH), traffic has already increased (at least in Bay Area) with gas prices at record high, and people have different preferences for WFH vs work from office," one question said. "Why is the RTO policy not 'Work from office when you want or when it makes sense to?'" Another submitter said some teams "blanket ban" remote work, with Google rejecting applications "even if managers are supportive."

    Workers told Insider that Google's remote work policies felt arbitrary. One employee said a colleague was barred from remote work even though their manager was allowed to work from home. Bay Area employees who wish to work remotely from other states might face pay cuts: Google will lower pay if employees relocate to cities like Durham, North Carolina, and Houston, Texas.

    This isn't the first time Google's remote work plans have upset its employees. In July, CNET reported that employees were angered by "hypocritical" remote work policies, allowing senior executive Urs Hölzle to work indefinitely from New Zealand while lower-level employees had to go through an application process.

    Other big tech companies are also opening their offices for corporate employees in the coming weeks. But not everyone's requiring in-person work. Twitter will let employees work from home forever, if they want. The pandemic has made workers accustomed to a flexible work environment, and many find required, in-person work unappealing.

    Source: Protocol

    https://www.protocol.com/bulletins/google-employees-upset-remote-work

  • 25 Mar 2022 2:21 PM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)

    By: Ryan Golden | Published March 23, 2022

    Dive Brief:

    • 2021 marked a large increase in CEO pay package rejections by shareholders, according to a report by As You Sow, a shareholder advocacy nonprofit. Last year, 16 companies saw their CEO pay packages rejected by more than half of shareholders, up from 10 in 2020 and seven in 2019.
    • The organization found that CEO compensation does not typically correlate with past stock return performance and that, instead, companies with the 100 most overpaid CEOs underperformed the equal-weighted average S&P 500 company for each of As You Sow's annual reports going back to 2015.
    • The report ranked those 100 CEOs using a formula based on indicators including pay compared to organizational performance, CEO to worker pay ratio and the percentage of institutional shareholders who voted against a pay package. CEOs from Paycom, Norwegian Cruise Line, General Electric, T-Mobile and Nike held the top five spots on As You Sow's list.

    Dive Insight:

    Executive compensation has become a contentious topic among members of the public, in part due to the wide gaps between CEOs and the average worker at a given company.

    Last year, a study by job search website Lensa revealed a 2,202% wage difference between the average CEO of a large U.S. company and the average worker at such a company. In dollars, that equated to more than $1.2 million annually. Other entities, including the Economic Policy Institute, have found that this gap widened since the 1970s.

    Organizations instituted pay increases on a broad scale in late 2021 and early 2022, including for workers below the executive and managerial levels. But recent fears regarding inflation have caused financial departments to pump the brakes on future increases.

    More recent increases in executive compensation also may be reflective of a candidate-friendly hiring market that favors leadership candidates. In January, data analytics and consulting firm GlobalData said it found a 35% increase in the number of job listings for roles such as CEO, CHRO and CFO in 2021 compared to 2020.

    That shareholders are increasingly rejecting pay package proposals may be reflective of frustration with how executives are compensated relative to company performance, particularly during the pandemic, according to the As You Sow report.

    "Some boards acted as if pay for performance didn't matter when COVID-19 was involved, and shareholders angrily rejected those packages," Rosanna Landis Weaver, executive compensation program manager at As You Sow, said. "But it is time for more shareholders to vote against the quantum of pay, not just particular bad practices. The growth in CEO pay is unjustified and not in the best interests of shareholders."

    ***** ***** ***** ***** *****

    Source: HR Dive

    https://www.hrdive.com/news/companies-with-overpaid-ceos-underperform-shareholder-advocacy-group-says/620928/

  • 03 Mar 2022 12:02 PM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)


    Published March 2, 2022 | Ryan Golden

    In the past, fear of potential reputational or liability risks may have thwarted efforts to address pay equity internally. But that calculus has changed in recent years.

    In July 2019, the U.S. women's national soccer team successfully defended its 2015 FIFA World Cup championship title. By all accounts, the athletes' victory cemented their status as top performers in their chosen field.

    Months earlier, however, members of the team argued in court that their pay did not reflect that status.

    A March 2019 collective and class action brought by players on the women's national team, also known as the USWNT, alleged that the U.S. Soccer Federation, the nation's governing body for the sport, failed to promote gender equality by paying USWNT players less than it paid members of the U.S. men's national team. white paper

    "The USSF admits to such purposeful gender discrimination even during times when the WNT earned more profit, played more games, won more games, earned more championships, and/or garnered higher television audiences," per the filing.

    The case made waves before, during and after the team's 2019 championship run, making its way up to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit after a California district court ruled in favor of the federation. Last year, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed an amicus curiae brief in support of the athletes.

    Nearly three years later, the end of the legal saga may be in sight. USWNT players reached a $24 million settlement agreement with their employer in February, according to Mayer Brown, a law firm representing members of the team. In a joint statement, U.S. Soccer and USWNT said the settlement was contingent upon the negotiation of a new collective bargaining agreement.

    ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** 

    Source: HR Dive

    https://www.hrdive.com/news/us-soccers-24m-gender-pay-gap-settlement-may-help-hr-elevate-pay-equity/619691/

  • 03 Mar 2022 11:58 AM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)

    Target increases its starting pay for some jobs to $24 an hour as part of a $300M investment on its workforce - ABC13 Houston

    By Parija Kavilanz, CNN Business | Tuesday, March 1, 2022 6:11AM

    Target announced Monday that it is raising its starting wage for workers in some positions to up to $24.

    The Minneapolis-based retailer said the increase will apply to hourly workers at its discount stores, supply chain facilities and headquarters.

    Target in 2020 set its minimum wage at $15. That will remain in place, but Target said some workers will qualify for higher starting pay based on the nature of their job and the prevailing competitive wages in their local market.

    Target, which employs more than 350,000 workers and has over 1,900 US stores, said the hike in some starting wages is part of its plan to spend an additional $300 million on its workforce. That investment also includes expanding access to healthcare benefits for hourly workers, beginning in April.

    Under the plan, Target's hourly employees who work a minimum average of 25 hours a week will be eligible to enroll in a company medical plan. That's down from the previous requirement of 30 hours per week.

    The retailer is also shortening the waiting period for eligible hourly team members to enroll in a Target medical plan. Depending on their position, employees will be able to get comprehensive health care benefits three to nine months sooner. Employees will also get faster access to 401(k) plans.

    The changes come as more retailers and restaurant chains have moved to a $15 an hour minimum rate.

    Amazon raised its starting wage to $15 in 2018, while Best Buy bumped up its minimum to $15 in 2020. Walmart, the largest US retailer, said in September that its workers who handle the front end of the store, food and general merchandise units will get at least a dollar an hour increase to $12. The pay raise would cover 565,000 Walmart workers.

    Target's move comes amid an ongoing worker shortage in the retail industry, partly triggered by the pandemic, as companies across the board struggle to retain and hire more workers.

    "Alongside the health risks, uncertainty and stress of working during a pandemic, many service-sector workers continue to contend with chronically unpredictable and unstable work schedules," according to a recent report from the Shift Project, a joint venture by Harvard University and the University of California, San Francisco.

    ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** 

    Source: CNNWire

    https://abc13.com/target-store-raising-starting-wages-employees-workforce-investment/11609156/

  • 03 Mar 2022 11:55 AM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)

    Brian Niccol, CEO of Chipotle Mexican Grill

    UPDATED THU, MAR 4 20219:25 AM EST |  Amelia Lucas

    KEY POINTS

    • Chipotle is tying executive compensation to annual targets aimed at improving the company’s internal diversity and sustainability.
    • Investors have been pushing publicly traded companies to make more commitments to improve their environmental, social and corporate governance.
    • Chipotle plans to publish its carbon emissions footprint by the end of the year

    Chipotle Mexican Grill said Thursday that executive compensation will now be linked to hitting targets tied to the company’s environmental and diversity goals.

    The burrito chain is following in the footsteps of Starbucks and McDonald’sboth of which recently announced that performance for racial and gender diversity goals will impact executive compensation plans. Individual investors and large asset managers like BlackRock are increasingly picking stocks with strong environmental, social and corporate governance in mind, pushing companies to make changes to become a more attractive investment.

    “I think the increased focus on performance around ESG and investor feedback was definitely behind our decision to go public with this,” said Laurie Schalow, who oversees sustainability and ESG reporting for Chipotle in her role as corporate affairs chief and food safety officer.

    Starting this year, 10% of Chipotle executives’ annual incentives will be tied to their progress toward achieving company goals.

    “It’s very important for us to be transparent and to be held accountable. We can say a lot of words, but we want to make sure that we have the actions to back it up,” Schalow said.

    Those targets include increasing the pounds of organic, local or regeneratively grown or raised food from the previous year. Last year, Chipotle hit 31 million pounds of local produce under this umbrella, and it has set a goal of 37 million pounds by the end of 2021.

    The company plans to publish its carbon footprint, including all indirect emissions along its value chain, by the end of the year, faster than its prior expected publication date of 2025. Schalow said the company will announce new sustainability goals stemming from those learnings when the report is released.

    Chipotle is also seeking to maintain racial and gender pay equity and promote more women and people of color above the restaurant level. It has created a training academy with online courses that teach a wide range of skills, from conflict resolution to setting goals, with the aim of helping employees of all backgrounds climb the corporate ladder. The company employed nearly 88,000 people, as of Dec. 31.

    Shares of Chipotle have risen 91% in the last 12 months, giving it a market value of $39.6 billion.

    ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** 

    Source: CNBC

    https://www.cnbc.com/2021/03/04/chipotle-will-link-executive-compensation-to-environmental-and-diversity-goals.html

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