Hot Topics in Total Rewards

  • 09 Jul 2021 2:47 PM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)

    Workers are trading jobs, enticed by the guarantee of flexible schedules and continued work from home

    By Chip Cutter  and Kathryn Dill | Updated June 26, 2021 12:01 am ET

    After almost a year and a half of working from home, many white-collar employees say they are not willing to return to corporate offices full-time. Even whispers of returning have been enough to send some professionals searching for an exit—and plenty of bosses are welcoming them to new jobs with the promise they can work remotely, at least most of the time.

    The push for flexibility is adding to the wave of resignations rippling through the U.S., recruiters say, and motivating many employers to re-evaluate their work-from-home policies. Canadian video-software firm Vidyard says it has seen a steep increase in job applications in recent months after emphasizing that roles can be performed mostly at home. And at Allstate Corp. , conversations about every new position now begin with the question: “Why can’t this be done remotely?” says Carrie Blair, the insurance giant’s chief human-resources officer. “It’s a big workforce shift for us.”

    Hardly anyone will return to Allstate’s offices full time, Ms. Blair says, after employees expressed in surveys that they didn’t want to and the company found most functions don’t require an office setting. Allstate recently decided 75% of roles can be performed remotely, and another 24% can be done on a hybrid basis, with workers splitting time between home and the office. The 1% who will go back to a pre-Covid-style office setting include some top executives and certain people in field offices with customer-facing roles.

    “Remote is going to be the new signing bonus,” he says. “Instead of dangling, ‘We’ll give you $10,000 if you sign for this job,’ it’ll be: ‘Instead of having to commute 35 minutes every day, go to work, and get in your car and drive 35 minutes home, you can work from your home office all the time.’ ”

    Matt Croak, a 27-year-old software engineer in New York City, wasn’t actively looking for a new job earlier this year, but believed his consulting-firm employer could begin reopening its offices this summer in a hybrid capacity. So, when a recruiter reached out in April about an engineering role at an e-commerce company that would allow him to continue working fully from home, he pursued it. The job comes with higher pay and the chance to learn new skills, but it will also allow him to spend mornings reading in his living room in Brooklyn, instead of hunched over a subway seat while commuting 45 minutes into Manhattan. Mr. Croak says that, over the past 16 months, he has had more personal time for meditation and other self care—activities he wasn’t ready to give up in order to rush back and forth to and from an office again.

    “I do really want to work from home permanently,” he says.

    Minaya, a 26-year-old tech-company employee, calls remote work ‘the arrangement that I want to keep.’PHOTO: JOVELLE TAMAYO FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

    Marc Cenedella, founder and chief executive of Ladders, a job-search site for roles that pay north of $100,000 a year, says greater flexibility is shaping up as a perk that companies can wield to poach talented people.

    “Remote is going to be the new signing bonus,” he says. “Instead of dangling, ‘We’ll give you $10,000 if you sign for this job,’ it’ll be: ‘Instead of having to commute 35 minutes every day, go to work, and get in your car and drive 35 minutes home, you can work from your home office all the time.’ ”

    Matt Croak, a 27-year-old software engineer in New York City, wasn’t actively looking for a new job earlier this year, but believed his consulting-firm employer could begin reopening its offices this summer in a hybrid capacity. So, when a recruiter reached out in April about an engineering role at an e-commerce company that would allow him to continue working fully from home, he pursued it. The job comes with higher pay and the chance to learn new skills, but it will also allow him to spend mornings reading in his living room in Brooklyn, instead of hunched over a subway seat while commuting 45 minutes into Manhattan. Mr. Croak says that, over the past 16 months, he has had more personal time for meditation and other self care—activities he wasn’t ready to give up in order to rush back and forth to and from an office again.

    “I do really want to work from home permanently,” he says.

    More American workers are quitting their jobs than at any time in at least 20 years, according to the Labor Department. One factor behind the trend, executives say, is that more employers are outlining their return-to-office plans in detail, giving employees a clearer sense of what to expect next. Apple Inc. recently said it wants most office workers to show up Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, with the option to work remotely on Wednesdays and Fridays. Other companies, such as Pontiac, Mich.-based United Wholesale Mortgage, are recalling thousands of employees to a corporate campus in the coming weeks, with a goal of getting close to 100% of workers back and resuming a traditional five-day workweek, according to the company’s chief executive, Mat Ishbia.

    “You see tons of bold statements. Companies saying, ‘No remote work.’ Some companies are saying, ‘We’re getting rid of all of our offices,’ ” says Bret Taylor, president and chief operating officer of Inc. In many cases, it is the employees who are primarily calling the shots. “There’s like a free market of the future of work and employees are choosing which path that they want to go on.”

    In a recent survey of 2,000 workers commissioned by Prudential Financial Inc., a quarter of respondents said they planned to look for a new job post-pandemic, with many of those planning to leave citing work-life balance issues as among their top concerns. Half of respondents reported feeling that the pandemic had given them more control in deciding the direction of their careers.

    Jeff Simonds, a 38-year-old who lives in Burlington, Vt., began a new remote job this past week as a search-engine optimization manager at Updater Inc., a New York-based tech company that makes software designed to help with logistical challenges when people relocate. Before the pandemic, Mr. Simonds worked in an office and says he never would have considered doing otherwise.

    Over the past year, he says he appreciated being able to throw in a load of laundry during the workday, or to begin his day from home earlier so that he could squeeze in a round of golf in the late afternoon, with his work completed. The new role came with a raise, and he says he considers the ability to work remotely as a kind of bonus. “It’s the freedom to kind of define my own workday,” he says.

    His prior company, which provides marketing services and tools for auto dealers, had tentatively discussed returning to the office in September, Mr. Simonds says.

    “Knowing that there was somewhat of a looming deadline of life back in the office” helped to inform the career move, Mr. Simonds says, adding that he was primarily drawn to his new employer’s growth prospects and the chance to help shape a new team. “I didn’t hate the office life, but I’m very accustomed to this now.”

    Though a number of companies are still calling workers back to offices, some bosses realize policies must shift to remain competitive. At First Advantage Corp. , an Atlanta technology company that employs more than 3,500 people and had its initial public offering this week, CEO Scott Staples says the company plans to reopen its offices in phases over the coming months. Some employees, particularly those in technology roles, will likely be able to spend more time working remotely.

    “I think CEOs of the future just have to have a lot more flexibility on policies and procedures. It’s the only way you’re going to grow and survive,” Mr. Staples says. “There are certain roles where if a person doesn’t want to come back in for a variety of reasons, we can accommodate that, and I think that will make us an attractive employer.”

    Technology giant Adobe Inc. said this week that its roughly 23,000 employees could spend 50% of their time at home once U.S. offices begin reopening in July, but also said that remote-work arrangements would expand for those who desire them.

    “Our default work arrangement going forward for employees is to be flexible,” says Gloria Chen, the company’s head of human resources. Adobe won’t mandate which days employees go into offices or track how much time they spend in them. “Flexibility means flexibility,” she says.

    Last fall, as Amy Culver’s employer began discussing plans to eventually return to the office, she found herself filled with dread. Without her typical 40-to-60-minute commute, Ms. Culver, a marketing copywriter, had more time to spend with her daughters, 11 and 16. She was able to continue horseback riding, her postwork outlet, even as the winter sun set earlier. Previously, she and her husband, who works irregular hours, might go several days each week without seeing each other. Working from home outside Richmond, Va., eliminated that issue, she says, and made it easier to spend time together as a family.

    “I felt like I had a handle on everything for the first time in a long time,” says Ms. Culver, who is 43.

    Though her manager told her she could continue to work from home even after the office in Richmond reopened, Ms. Culver worried about scrutiny and whether she’d be treated as a second-class citizen in the company, losing out on opportunities if she stayed in her basement workspace while co-workers returned. She began applying for jobs at companies that allow most employees to work remotely, and quickly had an offer that appealed to her. In November she started at When I Work, an employee-scheduling software company.

    Today Ms. Culver typically works from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., but says she has the autonomy to take her daughter to driver’s ed class in the middle of the day or return to a project later in the evening when she feels creative.

    “Now that I work for a remote-first company, we’re all in the same boat. I’m not concerned that’s going to hold me back at all,” she said. “I’m on a team, but I still get to work from home, and I feel like that’s the best of both worlds.”

    Other employees have chosen companies with defined remote-work cultures. Pallavi Daliparthi, a 36-year-old who lives outside Austin, Texas, took a job in May with GitLab Inc., a fully remote company that sells tools for software developers. Ms. Daliparthi, now a senior manager on GitLab’s sales team, had previously worked remotely at a large enterprise-technology company, and knew that in a hybrid environment, decisions could be made over coffee in the office that she may have missed while at home. “Whereas here, everybody really is remote,” Ms. Daliparthi says. “You know there’s nothing happening in the background, in-person somewhere.”

    A lot of people say they hope to stay remote for years to come. Brandon Minaya, a 26-year-old tech-company employee, moved to a neighborhood in Seattle late last year that has few links to public transportation, anticipating that he would no longer be commuting to an office in future roles. In March, he took a fully remote client-facing position with Intellum, an Atlanta-based company that makes education software.

    Instead of taking an hourlong bus ride each way to a WeWork location, as he did in a previous role, Mr. Minaya says he often starts his mornings walking to a nearby beach, where he looks for seals and birds. Most mornings, he takes the time to brew himself a pour-over coffee, something he once reserved for weekends.

    While searching for a new job, he prized companies that seemed committed to remote work. “I wanted to find somewhere where this isn’t something that’s going to be pulled back in six months,” he says. “Like: ‘Just kidding!’ ”

    He has the flexibility to meet with colleagues in person, or to travel to the company’s Atlanta headquarters, he says. But “the fact that it’s not expected of me is kind of the arrangement that I want to keep.”

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    Source: The Wall Street Journal

  • 25 Jun 2021 3:51 PM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)

    Man (early 30s) working in home office

    PUBLISHED FRI, JUN 25 20218:30 AM EDT by Greg Iacurci


    • Workers are increasingly getting enrolled into their company 401(k) plans automatically, often into target-date funds that shift the stock-bond mix over time.
    • About 60% of 401(k) plans used auto-enrollment in 2019, up from 42% a decade earlier, according to the Plan Sponsor Council of America.

    Americans saving in a 401(k) plan may have money stashed in a robo-advisor — and they might not even know it.

    Robo-advice is basically professional money management guided by an algorithm (a robot, so to speak), largely allowing investors to be hands-off.

    Companies offering a retirement benefit are increasingly enrolling employees into 401(k) plans automatically. Most are diverted to some type of robo-advisor.

    About 60% of 401(k) plans used auto-enrollment in 2019, up from 42% a decade earlier, according to the Plan Sponsor Council of America. Doing so helps overcome inertia that may prevent a person from saving.

    “You get the momentum going,” Keith Gredys, chairman and CEO of The Kidder Company in Clive, Iowa, who works with 401(k) plans and investors, said of automatic enrollment. ”[Employees] go in and tend not to come out.”

    TDFs and managed accounts

    About 66% of 401(k) plans guide those automatic savings into target-date funds, according to the Council, a trade group representing businesses that offer retirement plans.

    TDFs are perhaps the simplest version of a robo-advisor — they automatically toggle savings from aggressive (lots of stocks) to conservative (lots of cash and bonds) according to an investor’s planned age of retirement.

    About 5% of 401(k) plans default funds into a “managed account.” In such accounts, algorithms choose one’s asset allocation based on factors beyond just age, such as income, savings rate, employer contributions and amount of non-401(k) savings.

    Employers must notify workers that they are being automatically enrolled in a 401(k). But those who don’t pay close attention may not know part of their paycheck is getting invested a robo-advisor.

    Robo-advisors have come into vogue over the past 15 years or so, leveraging investor demand for ease and lower-cost investing.  

    About 80% of 401(k) plans offer target-date funds, for example, up from 64% a decade ago, according to the Plan Sponsor Council of America.

    “Most people are terrible investors,” said Philip Chao, a certified financial planner and chief investment officer at Experiential Wealth, based in Cabin John, Maryland.

    “They’re diversified [and] professionally managed,” Chao said of target-date funds and managed accounts. “So you don’t have to go find an advisor; it’s done for you.

    “And they’re easy to understand, so they become very popular.”

    There’s also a legal rationale for employers to automatically guide funds into such investments — the Pension Protection Act of 2006 offered additional protections to do so.

    However, Chao doesn’t consider target-date funds to technically be advisors since they only tailor asset allocation (the mix of stocks and bonds) based on the year in which someone plans to retire.

    Managed accounts, on the other hand, are more tailored to the specific individual since their asset allocations are based on other data points.

    But managed accounts are also typically more expensive — and that may pose a problem for investors who are automatically enrolled, according to Chao.

    Managed accounts often rely on investors to input specific data points (like amount of non-401[k] savings) to guide their investment mix. But those inputs are unlikely to occur without investor engagement, as is more apt to occur after automatic enrollment — potentially negating the additional cost.

    “You shouldn’t blindly let your money get defaulted,” Chao said. “You should know the cost.

    “And you should make sure employer has done their job to controlling expenses.”

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    Source: CNBC

  • 23 Jun 2021 9:04 AM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)

    Confronting Vaccine Misinformation in the Workplace

    By Kelly Anderson, June 23, 2021

    Misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines has proliferated across the Internet in recent months, with false rumors about dangerous side effects, surveillance and other conspiracies.

    The rise in false information about vaccines has had a marked impact on vaccination rates, with 1 in 4 Americans saying they are not planning to get vaccinated.

    Vaccine conspiracies can cause disturbances in the workplace, especially if employees are sharing misinformation or condemning employees who have chosen to get vaccinated.

    "It's distracting to others, and it has a real impact to some on their actions around the vaccines," said Elisabeth Joyce, vice president of advisory in the HR practice of Gartner, a research firm based in Stamford, Conn., that provides human resource consulting.

    Joyce said disputes over vaccines or company policies requiring employees to get vaccinated should be handled like other workplace disagreements, rather than treating them as a health or safety issue. 

    "I would be treating it as a manager like I would treat any other kind of disruption in the workplace in terms of having a conversation around what is appropriate or is not appropriate," Joyce said.

    Below, experts give tips on how to handle these conversations, as well as a script to use with vaccine-hesitant workers.

    Handling Vocal Vaccine Objections

    If an employee is claiming that vaccines contain microchips or cause cancer, or is spreading other false information at work, the best recourse for a manager is often the least confrontational one. 

    Joyce said managers should avoid discussing their own beliefs about vaccines and instead should emphasize that sharing spurious claims with co-workers is disruptive to the professional environment. "This is not work-related, and it's causing people to lose focus on their work," she said. "That's not a way that we want to be engaging in the workplace, regardless of topic." 

    Robert Neiman, a lawyer who specializes in employment litigation at Much Shelist P.C. in Chicago, suggests that managers approach misinformation-spreading employees with patience and respect, rather than condescension.

    "It's an issue of persuasion rather than changing their mind," Neiman said, "because chances are, you're not going to change someone's mind on things like that." 

    Legal Ramifications

    False speech is not protected in private workplaces, which means employees who share misleading information about vaccines cannot argue that their claims are protected under the First Amendment, according to Neiman.

    "Like all employer-employee relations issues, the key is to treat all of your employees the same way," Neiman said. Lawmakers in several states have proposed legislation that would make vaccination status a protected class under anti-discrimination laws, but those efforts have mostly failed.

    The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has issued guidance that allows employers to mandate vaccinations. Employees who have valid medical or religious objections, however, must be exempted from vaccine requirements due to statutes in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

    Lawsuits against workplace vaccine requirements have been filed in several states. A detention center officer in New Mexico sued his employer over its vaccine mandate, which he says made co-workers hostile toward unvaccinated employees and led to his being demoted unfairly. Similar lawsuits have been filed by public employees in North Carolina and California, and the cases will be the first to test the legality of vaccine mandates.

    The lawsuits use the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA's) decision to grant emergency use authorization (EUA) for the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines as the basis of their legal claims.

    FDA policy states that any person may refuse to take medical products approved under an EUA, and that they are entitled to know the consequences of refusal.

    The EUA lawsuits are unlikely to form the basis of credible complaints against employers that mandate vaccines, said Neiman, who noted that EEOC guidance supersedes other regulatory agencies in the workplace.

    Tips for Managers  

    Establishing trust and providing credible sources of information may help stop the spread of vaccine misinformation. Experts suggest that managers use the following tips when talking with employees who have bought into vaccine misinformation:

    • Ask the employee if she's willing to talk to other employees of the same rank or seniority who have been vaccinated, rather than speaking one-on-one with a manager. Vaccinated employees can share their experiences of receiving the vaccine and how vaccinations have benefited their own lives. While dispelling conspiracy theories can be difficult, hearing about vaccinations from a trusted, respected peer can help the employee become more open-minded about the COVID-19 vaccine.
    • Create video interviews of vaccinated employees of varying seniority and positions to distribute to unvaccinated employees. In the interviews, ask employees about their motivations behind receiving the vaccine and how it has affected their lives. Neiman suggests e-mailing these videos to unvaccinated employees on a regular basis so they have the opportunity to hear testimonials at their convenience without forcing confrontation.
    • Ask if the employee would like to speak with a licensed medical professional to learn more about the vaccine.  
    • Avoid using a rude or condescending tone, which could alienate a vaccine-skeptical employee who is wary of taking advice or considering different viewpoints.

    Jaime Klein, CEO of New York City-based HR consultancy Inspire Human Resources, said offering accommodations for vaccine appointments can also help sway hesitant employees. Klein suggests giving paid time off for employees to receive the vaccine during work hours, as well as giving paid sick days to those who experience vaccine side effects. 

    "It's crucial to lead in a human-centric way and to validate the opinions and feelings both of team members who received the vaccine and of those who do not want to receive a vaccine," Klein said.

    Sample Script

    An employee named Sarah has come to her manager, Kim, with a YouTube video that shows someone who claims to be a doctor discouraging people from receiving vaccines. The "doctor" makes several false claims, arguing that the vaccines alter the DNA of recipients, making them more likely to become infected by the virus. Sarah has e-mailed the same video to several co-workers and was overheard telling employees not to attend their vaccine appointments. Here's a sample template Kim could use to respond to Sarah's concerns:

    "I understand you're concerned about the COVID-19 vaccine. We respect your opinion and will respect your decision about getting vaccinated regardless of which option you choose. We expect that you will also afford the same respect to your co-workers who may make different decisions. Fomenting fear among your peers is unhelpful to creating a productive work environment and can make it harder for others to make informed decisions about the vaccines.

    "Whether or not you get vaccinated is your choice, but we want to make sure you and all of our other employees have the resources to make the best-informed decision. Our company website includes links to information from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, and state and local guidance on the vaccines and the coronavirus. The consensus of scientific research is that vaccines are completely safe and overwhelmingly effective at stopping infection and the worst effects of contracting COVID-19.

    "More than half of the adults in the U.S. and millions of people across the world have received the vaccines. If you'd like, we can set up a time for you to meet one-on-one with another employee who has been vaccinated to hear about their experience. Your peers who are vaccinated are enjoying the vaccine's benefits: They can now gather indoors with large groups of people, travel with greater ease, and no longer have to wear masks outside and in many indoor spaces. You'll also have much more flexibility at work because you won't have to be tested regularly to work from the office, may not have to quarantine if a member of your household tests positive, and can more freely access common spaces like the lunchroom and conference room.

    "If you'd like to hear a medical opinion, we can help set up a time for you to speak with a health care provider or another licensed medical professional. There is rampant disinformation on the Internet from people who often lack qualifications, but speaking with a reputable doctor can ensure you have the most scientifically accurate information about vaccines.

    "If you're concerned about the logistics of receiving the vaccine, our workplace has ample accommodations to give you flexibility.

    "I understand your worries about the vaccines, and I'm here to enable you to make the best decision for your health. I am happy to have more conversations about vaccines in the future if it would be helpful, but going forward we will not tolerate employees who spread lies about medical issues."

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    Source: Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM)

  • 23 Jun 2021 9:01 AM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)

    Published June 23, 2021 by Emilie Shumway

    Dive Brief:

    • Employers have instituted more flexible and frequent leave allowances in response to the pandemic, according to Mercer’s Survey on Absence and Disability Management. Among the notable trends, 1 in 10 survey respondents now include Juneteenth as a paid company holiday; 61% of respondents offer paid parental leave for birth parents, up from 40% in 2018, while 60% offered paid leave to non-birth parents, up from 41% in 2018. Twenty-percent of respondents offer unlimited paid time off to at least some employees — mainly exempt workers — compared to 14% in 2018.
    • Respondents also reported that compliance with state and local leave requirements has gotten more challenging during the pandemic; 46% said they hired a third party to monitor and help comply with those rules and 23% established a leave policy expected to exceed state and local laws to reduce the administrative burden. More than half of respondents supported the concept of a voluntary federal minimum standard for paid leave.
    • Mercer engaged more than 400 employers for its survey. It will release the complete results in July. 

    Dive Insight:

    The pandemic has caused a rapid evolution in many workplace policies, from remote and hybrid work to mental health assistance to free training and education benefits. Paid leave is no exception, the Mercer survey results show. Employers have seen that companies can continue to function well — even thrive — when employees have wide latitude to balance their personal lives and better manage their health and wellness. 

    More employers offering paid time off for Juneteenth and for parental care (including adoption leave) also demonstrates employers' increased interest in creating an inclusive workplace. Many companies were ahead of the federal government in making Juneteenth a paid day off, noting the importance of the day to their Black employees and generally as a time of reflection and solidarity for their entire employee base. The past year has also brought attention to workers' struggles with child care, with women bearing the brunt of the burden

    It's likely employers' growing embrace of policies like unlimited paid leave is further prompted by a need to attract and retain talent in a worker's market. Close to 1 in 3 employees who responded to a recent survey by Robert Half said they had experienced a "shift in perspective due to the pandemic," and employees have repeatedly asserted their preference for continued hybrid or remote work in surveys over the past year. Unlimited paid time off is one more policy employers can use to show workers they provide a flexible and competitive work environment.

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    Source: HR Dive

  • 23 Jun 2021 8:57 AM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)

    New Year, New Vacation Policy? What Colorado Employers Need to Know - KO

    In the wake of the pandemic and the social justice movement, some employers are changing time-off policies – such as providing more leave for new parents, more flexible time-off, and recognizing Juneteenth as a company holiday. Here are a few highlights from Mercer’s 2021 Absence and Disability Management Survey.

    For survey highlights, click here.

  • 23 Jun 2021 8:54 AM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)

    Published June 21, 2021 by Ryan Golden

    Dive Brief:

    • The U.S. Department of Labor announced Monday a rule withdrawing and re-proposing a portion of a Trump administration 2020 final rule regarding tip pool regulations under the Fair Labor Standards Act.
    • The proposal aims to address situations in which an employee performs both tipped and untipped work, also known as a "dual job." Under the proposed rule, employers would only be able to take a tip credit if their tipped employees performed work that is part of the employees' tipped occupation.
    • Such work would include work that produces tips as well as work that "directly supports" tip-producing work, DOL said, provided the supporting work is not performed for a "substantial amount of time." Work that supports tip-producing work is performed for a substantial amount of time if it either exceeds, in the aggregate, 20% of the employee's hours during the workweek, or is performed for a continuous period of time exceeding 30 minutes.

    Dive Insight:

    Tip regulations have proven to be one of the most active areas for regulatory activity at the federal level, and DOL's announcement this week is the latest in a series of changes and delays.

    When the Trump administration DOL proposed last year an update to the agency's interpretation of the FLSA's tip regs, it addressed the "dual job" issue by stating that employers could take a tip credit for the time a tipped employee spent performing related, non-tipped duties, as long as those duties were performed contemporaneously with, or for a reasonable time immediately before or after, tipped duties.

    The 2020 final rule also implemented guidance from a 2018 opinion letter, in which DOL stated that employers could take a tip credit for an employee's work if the employee's tasks were on the O*NET task list for that tipped job. The O*NET list could be used "as a source of guidance for determining when a tipped employee's non-tipped duties are related to his or her tipped occupation," DOL said in the 2020 rule.

    While the Biden administration subsequently allowed certain components of the 2020 final rule to take effect April 30, it delayed other parts — including the "dual job" component — from taking effect until Dec. 31.

    In order to address the "dual job" issue, DOL's latest proposal marks something of a return to the so-called "80/20" guidance that characterized the agency's approach to tip credits from the late 1980s until 2009, when the administration of former President George W. Bush issued an opinion letter rescinding the 80/20 approach. The Obama administration withdrew the letter and revised the then-existing 80/20 guidance, but the Trump administration re-issued the letter in 2018, effectively withdrawing the 80/20 approach.

    As DOL noted in the proposal to be published June 23, employers and their representatives have criticized the 80/20 guidance for being challenging to administer. For example, the agency cited a comment on a 2019 proposed rulemaking by law firm Littler Mendelson stating that the 80/20 approach "did not include a 'comprehensive list of related duties or even a way to determine which duties were related,'" among other issues.

    Citing district court rulings, however, DOL said it "believes that 20 percent of an employee's workweek is an appropriate tolerance for non-tipped work that is part of the tipped employee's occupation. The Department seeks comments, however, on whether a different portion of the employee's workweek would be appropriate or if another metric would be more appropriate."

    DOL's proposal also defines "substantial amount of time" as "any continuous period of time that exceeds 30 minutes," which is meant to address concerns that the 80/20 guidance did not adequately address scenarios in which employees perform non-tipped, directly supporting work for extended periods of time.

    "Particularly because the proposed guidance provides examples illustrating the type of work that is part of the tipped occupation, including work that is tip-producing and work that directly supports the tip-producing work, employers should be able to proactively identify work that counts toward the tolerance and assign work to tipped employees accordingly, to avoid going over this tolerance," DOL said. "Similarly, a continuous, uninterrupted block of 30 minutes or more is a significant amount of time, and does not require the minute-by-minute micromanaging with which the 2020 Tip final rule expressed concern."

    Stakeholders will have the opportunity to submit public comments on or before 60 days after the proposal is published in the Federal Register.

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    Source: HR Dive

  • 18 Jun 2021 5:54 AM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)

    Emancipation Day celebration in Richmond, Va., in 1905.

    By Tyler Olson , Morgan Phillips June 17, 2021

    President Biden on Thursday signed the bill making Juneteenth, a day celebrating the freeing of Black slaves after the Civil War, into a national holiday. 

    Biden said the day would now be a "day in which we remember the moral stain and terrible toll slavery took on the country," as he signed the bill surrounded by members of the Congressional Black Caucus and Vice President Harris. 

    He again turned back to new voting reforms put in place by GOP-led states, saying the promise of equality would not be fulfilled "so long as the sacred right to vote remains under attack." The room erupted in applause. 

    "We see this assault from restrictive laws, threats of intimidation, voter purges and more."

    "The promise of equality will not be fulfilled until it becomes real in our schools, on our streets and in our neighborhoods, in the water that comes out of our faucets, the air that we breathe in our communities and in our justice system," the president continued. 

    Biden said the nation would continue to work to root out hate, which he said "never ends" but "only hides." 

    "In short, this day doesn't just celebrate the past, it calls for action today," Biden said. 

    The Juneteenth bill passed the Senate unanimously and saw opposition from 14 House Republican lawmakers when it came for a vote Wednesday evening. 

    "There's nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come. And it seems to me that this is the most propitious time for us to recognize our history and to learn from it," Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said before the House vote Wednesday. Juneteenth is already a state-designated holiday in Texas. 

    "Slavery was a blemish upon our country from its earliest days, and it is a part of our nation’s history that must not be ignored or swept under the rug," House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said in a statement after the House quickly passed the Senate's bill. "Juneteenth is an opportunity to remember with solemnity all those who endured enslavement and the trauma still felt by their families and communities to this day, as well as an opportunity to pay tribute to all brave individuals who worked for abolition and emancipation."

    Juneteenth is the anniversary of when Union Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger, two years after the Emancipation Proclamation, arrived in Galveston, Texas, to declare that the Civil War was over and that slaves must be freed. Slavery ended in other southern states before that but because of how far Texas was from the Union's power center around Washington, D.C., and the Northeast, there were not enough Union soldiers to enforce Lincoln's order. 

    Texas first made Juneteenth an official holiday in 1980, and most states eventually followed with at least some form of Juneteenth observance. 

    The House members who voted against the bill are Reps. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz.; Mo Brooks, R-Ala.; Andrew Clyde, R-Ga., Scott DesJarlais, R-Tenn.; Paul Gosar, R-Ariz.; Ronny Jackson, R-Texas; Doug LaMalfa, R-Calif.; Thomas Massie, R-Ky.; Tom McClintock, R-Calif.; Ralph Norman, R-S.C.; Mike Rogers, R-Ala.; Matt Rosendale, R-Mont.; Chip Roy, R-Texas, and Thomas Tiffany, R-Wis.

    Roy, who recently ran for House Republican Conference chair, said his problem with the bill was related to semantics. 

    "Juneteenth should be commemorated as the expression of the realization of the end of slavery in the United States - and I commend those who worked for its passage," Roy said. "I could not vote for this bill, however, because the holiday should not be called 'Juneteenth National Independence Day' but rather, ‘Juneteenth National Emancipation [or Freedom or otherwise] Day.’"

    He continued: "This name needlessly divides our nation on a matter that should instead bring us together by creating a separate Independence Day based on the color of one’s skin."

    Brooks, meanwhile, said that the end of slavery "ought to be celebrated as much as the 4th of July," according to But he said the date should be the anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation or perhaps the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, which officially banned slavery, rather than June 19 because of its roots specifically in Texas. 

    Gosar, meanwhile, decried Juneteenth as an effort "to divide this country."

    "Juneteenth is more debunked Critical Race Theory in action. I reject racism. I reject the racial division people are promoting. I voted no because this proposed holiday does not bring us together, it tears us apart," he added. "I cannot support efforts that furthers racial divisions in this country. We have one Independence Day, and it applies equally to all people of all races."

    Rosendale alleged that the bill "is an effort by the Left to create a day out of whole cloth to celebrate identity politics as part of its larger efforts to make Critical Race Theory the reigning ideology of our country."

    "Since I believe in treating everyone equally, regardless of race, and that we should be focused on what unites us rather than our differences, I will vote no," Rosendale added. 

    ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** 

    Source: Fox News 

  • 18 Jun 2021 5:48 AM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)

    President Joe Biden speaks in the East Room of the White House, Thursday, June 17, 2021, in Washington. The Supreme Court has dismissed a third major challenge to "Obamacare," preserving health insurance coverage for millions of Americans. Though the court has become increasingly conservative with justices nominated by former President Donald Trump, it nonetheless left the entire law intact Thursday. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

    By MARK SHERMAN | June 17,2021

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court, though increasingly conservative in makeup, rejected the latest major Republican-led effort to kill the national health care law known as “Obamacare” on Thursday, preserving insurance coverage for millions of Americans.

    The justices, by a 7-2 vote, left the entire Affordable Care Act intact in ruling that Texas, other GOP-led states and two individuals had no right to bring their lawsuit in federal court. The Biden administration says 31 million people have health insurance because of the law, which also survived two earlier challenges in the Supreme Court.

    The law’s major provisions include protections for people with existing health conditions, a range of no-cost preventive services, expansion of the Medicaid program that insures lower-income people and access to health insurance markets offering subsidized plans.

    “The Affordable Care Act remains the law of the land,” President Joe Biden, said, celebrating the ruling. He called for building further on the law that was enacted in 2010 when he was vice president.

    Also left in place is the law’s now-toothless requirement that people have health insurance or pay a penalty. Congress rendered that provision irrelevant in 2017 when it reduced the penalty to zero.

    The elimination of the penalty had become the hook that Texas and other GOP-led states, as well as the Trump administration, used to attack the entire law. They argued that without the mandate, a pillar of the law when it was passed, the rest of the law should fall, too.

    And with a Supreme Court that includes three appointees of former President Donald Trump, opponents of “Obamacare” hoped a majority of the justices would finally kill the law they have been fighting for more than a decade.

    But the third major attack on the law at the Supreme Court ended the way the first two did, with a majority of the court rebuffing efforts to gut the law or get rid of it altogether.

    Trump’s appointees — Justices Amy Coney Barrett, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh — split their votes. Kavanaugh and Barrett joined the majority. Gorsuch was in dissent, signing on to an opinion from Justice Samuel Alito.

    Justice Stephen Breyer wrote for the court that the states and people who filed a federal lawsuit “have failed to show that they have standing to attack as unconstitutional the Act’s minimum essential coverage provision.”

    In dissent, Alito wrote, “Today’s decision is the third installment in our epic Affordable Care Act trilogy, and it follows the same pattern as installments one and two. In all three episodes, with the Affordable Care Act facing a serious threat, the Court has pulled off an improbable rescue.” Alito was a dissenter in the two earlier cases in 2012 and 2015, as well.

    Like Alito, Justice Clarence Thomas was in dissent in the two earlier cases, but he joined Thursday’s majority, writing, “Although this Court has erred twice before in cases involving the Affordable Care Act, it does not err today.”

    Because it dismissed the case for the plaintiff’s lack of legal standing — the ability to sue — the court didn’t actually rule on whether the individual mandate is unconstitutional now that there is no penalty for forgoing insurance. Lower courts had struck down the mandate, in rulings that were wiped away by the Supreme Court decision.

    With the latest ruling, the Supreme Court reaffirmed that “the Affordable Care Act is here to stay,” former President Barack Obama said, adding his support to Biden’s call to expand the law.

    Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton pledged to continue the fight against “Obamacare,” which he called a “massive government takeover of health care.”

    But it’s not clear what Republicans can do, said Larry Levitt, an executive vice president for the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation, which studies health care.

    “Democrats are in charge and they have made reinvigorating and building on the ACA a key priority,” Levitt said. “Republicans don’t seem to have much enthusiasm for continuing to try to overturn the law.”

    Republicans have pressed their argument to invalidate the whole law even though congressional efforts to rip out the entire law “root and branch,” in Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell’s words, have failed. The closest they came was in July 2017 when Arizona Sen. John McCain, who died the following year, delivered a dramatic thumbs-down vote to a repeal effort by fellow Republicans.

    Chief Justice John Roberts said during arguments in November that it seemed the law’s foes were asking the court to do work best left to the political branches of government.

    The court’s decision preserves benefits that have become part of the fabric of the nation’s health care system.

    Polls show that the law has grown in popularity as it has endured the heaviest assault. In December 2016, just before Obama left office and Trump swept in calling the ACA a “disaster,” 46% of Americans had an unfavorable view of the law, while 43% approved, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation tracking poll. Those ratings flipped, and by February of this year 54% had a favorable view, while disapproval had fallen to 39% in the same ongoing poll.

    The health law is now undergoing an expansion under Biden, who sees it as the foundation for moving the U.S. to coverage for all. His giant COVID-19 relief bill significantly increased subsidies for private health plans offered through the ACA’s insurance markets, while also dangling higher federal payments before the dozen states that have declined the law’s Medicaid expansion. About 1.2 million people have signed up with since Biden reopened enrollment amid high levels of COVID cases earlier this year.

    Most of the people with insurance because of the law have it through Medicaid expansion or the health insurance markets that offer subsidized private plans. But its most popular benefit is protection for people with preexisting medical conditions. They cannot be turned down for coverage on account of health problems, or charged a higher premium. While those covered under employer plans already had such protections, “Obamacare” guaranteed them for people buying individual policies.

    Another hugely popular benefit allows young adults to remain on their parents’ health insurance until they turn 26. Before the law, going without medical coverage was akin to a rite of passage for people in their 20s getting a start in the world.

    Because of the ACA, most privately insured women receive birth control free of charge. It’s considered a preventive benefit covered at no additional cost to the patient. So are routine screenings for cancer and other conditions.

    For Medicare recipients, “Obamacare” also improved preventive care, and more importantly, closed a prescription drug coverage gap of several thousand dollars that was known as the “doughnut hole.”


    Associated Press writer Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar contributed to this report.

  • 27 May 2021 7:59 AM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)

    The Great Resignation of 2021: Are 30% of workers really going to quit? - TechRepublic

    by Veronica Combs in Digital | Transformation  on May 25, 2021

    There is a pent-up demand for change among workers and managers need to spell out flexible work options ASAP, experts say.

    Masks and life via Zoom are not the only things people are leaving behind now that headlines about vaccination rates are replacing COVID-19 case numbers. People are ready to leave both pandemic restrictions and their current jobs behind in 2021, according to several surveys. 

    The numbers range from 26% to 40%. The Microsoft Work Trend Index found that 40% of people want to change jobs this year. A survey of workers in the U.K. and Ireland put the number at 38% and a similar U.S. survey found 26% of workers are planning to leave their current job over the next few months. 

    It's easier, of course, to want a new job than to actually go out and get one. J.P. Gownder, a vice president and principal analyst at Forrester, said managers should be careful when interpreting survey data on intentions, particularly for large decisions like leaving a job. 

    "Leaving a job often requires some combination of finding a new job and overcoming the inertia of staying with the old one," he said. "But I think we are at an inflection point at which many people are reconsidering the particulars of their lives and of work-life balance."

    As more offices plan the great reopening, there is still a lot of uncertainty about what the work week will look like. Brian Kropp, chief of research in the Gartner HR practice, said that companies should expect a bumpy launch and months of experimenting.

    "The re-entry into the new hybrid will be messy and uneven and filled with problems," he said.

    Kropp sees two ways for company leaders to respond to the uncomfortable early days of the hybrid approach: 

    1. We know this approach is right so let's learn from this and get better.
    2. This is too hard and we're going back to what we're familiar with.

    The risk is that executives will decide that defining the hybrid workplace is too difficult and revert back to old habits. Kropp said that all of the data shows that employees are higher performing and more productive in hybrid work settings.

    "The mindset of some folks is that it's impossible to collaborate unless you're in the same room with people," he said. "If that's what you think, then you have to believe that zero collaboration has occurred over the last 14 months and that's obviously not true."

    Are more people really quitting now?

    The short answer is that it's too soon to tell, but the number of people quitting in the information sector was up in March. The overall quit rate is back to what it was before the pandemic. The Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes the Jobs Opening and Labor Turnover report monthly which details openings, hires and separations. The total separation rate includes quits, layoffs, discharges and other departures. 

    The most recent report for March 2021 shows job openings were up while the other two metrics were unchanged. The quits rate was similar to the February number at 2.4%. The number of people quitting their jobs voluntarily went up in two sectors— accommodation and food services (+63,000) and information (+16,000). 

    The quits rate is the number of quits during the entire month as a percent of total employment. The overall number has not changed dramatically over the last five years. The rate was 1.5% in March 20202.3% in 2019 and 2018 and 2.1% in 2017.

    Overall, the seasonally adjusted separation rate for nonfarm jobs has been between 4% and 3.5% for the last 15 years while the quit rate has been at about 2% over the same time period, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, the percentage of quits to total separations went up every year from 2010 to 2017, according to the Bureau of Labor. 

    LinkedIn found that the IT industry has one of the highest turnover rates among all industries, sharing the top of the list with retail at 13% turnover in 2017. 

    In its 2019 Retention Report: Trends, Reasons and A Call to Action, the Work Institute found that the top three reasons for leaving a job were career development, work-life balance and manager behavior. The report also found that voluntary turnover was up 7.6% over 2017 and that preventable reasons for leaving were also trending up. 

    What's causing this desire for a new job?

    Gownder sees several forces behind this predicted wave of resignation. First, Forrester's data shows that 53% of employees want to keep working from home. Although Forrester research suggests that 70% of companies will adopt a hybrid work schedule, not every organization will do so and not every job will qualify. 

    "So a number of people are rethinking office life altogether," Gownder said. 

    Second, Gownder noted that the pandemic has created two distinct financial realities for workers, with some people unemployed or behind on rent payments, but other people having increased their savings. People can use this financial cushion to make a career or location change.

    "People with means are able to rethink their entire work/life paradigm," he said. "Some will even want to work in so-called Zoom towns, fully remote in a more rural area, permanently." 

    Lindsay Lagreid, senior adviser for the Limeade Institute, said that people have had a lot of time over the last year to think about what role they want work to play in their lives. 

    "People have been thinking about who built this system of work and why it works for some but not all people," she said. "People are thinking about sacrifices they had made previously, and hearing, 'We want to go back,' but thinking about how 'back' didn't work well for me."

    Lagreid sees this critical thinking about work as part of the conversations about social justice over the last year that questioned many of society's established systems.

    "This has been a deeply reflective experience and it is striking this very moral nerve with people," she said. "A dismissive and top-down approach is not going to work anymore."

    She sees this transition period as a chance to make work more humane, compassionate and caring.

    "The research does not support the 'OK, on June 14 everyone is back in the office' approach that we've been seeing so much of," she said.

    Lagreid said that she sees a lot of oversimplifying in the hybrid office discussion.

    "The way I hear it is 'Back five days a week 9 to 5,' or 'I will never see you again until the end of time,'" she said. "The reality is that for each employee, it will change every day."

    Lagreid said that all the research she has seen shows that productivity for the vast majority of workers has stayed the same or gone up over the last year of remote work.

    Kropp sees pent-up demand for changing jobs after months of uncertainty due to the pandemic combined with the hiring that's going to occur as the economy grows. He expects turnover rates to go up but not at a dramatic rate.

    "There's a risk of significant turnover if we do nothing but there's a lot that we can do," he said.

    What managers can do to keep more employees from leaving

    Kropp said that the first thing employers should do is to eliminate as much uncertainty as possible about the rules for flexible work hours.  

    "One thing you can do right now to minimize the risk of turnover is to be very clear about flexibility," he said. "And if you're not offering flexibility, you'll have a turnover problem."

    Gownder suggests holding listening tours, focus groups and town halls to understand the drivers of retention and churn and the high points and the pain points of the employee experience.

    Before doing any listening tours or surveying employees about what they want, senior leaders have to be frank about what the options really are for the company's hybrid work options, Lagreid said. 

    "Let's not give people a blank canvas and then tell them they only get three colors to color with," she said. 

    She said that trusting employees and providing flexibility and autonomy in setting work hours are the best tactics for retaining employees.

    "Let employees choose where they can best do their work and be intentional about how you're going to use time together," she said. "If your work is collaborative, bring everyone in on Thursday, order lunch, and then do brainstorming."

    Gownder also recommends adopting an "office + anywhere" hybrid work policy with employees in the office one to three days per week.

    "Give employees a reason to come to the office, not just mandate it," he said.

    Kropp said companies should be ready to experiment over the next 12 to 18 months to find the hybrid design that works best for their companies. He recommends a set of philosophies as opposed to rigid policies.

    "If you create a set of philosophies and principles, then employees know the rules and can adjust," he said. 

    He recommends creating a framework for employees to let them know about what sort of work they need to be in the office to complete.

    "You don't want to surprise employees with 'Oh, I'm supposed to be in the office for that,'"  he said.

    Finally, managers should think about what makes for a great employee experience because that is a driver of retention.

    "Making sure people have autonomy to do their jobs, are given the tools to do so effectively, and understand their purpose in the grand scheme always help retain top talent," Gownder said.

    ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** 

    Source: TechRepublic

  • 25 May 2021 10:33 AM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)

    By Sean Brown, Susan Lund, and Sven Smit | May 24, 2021

    Accelerating trends in remote work, e-commerce, and automation mean that more people will need to change jobs and learn new skills. Are leaders ready to guide the shift?

    A new report from the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) indicates that up to 25 percent more workers than previously estimated may need to switch occupations. This episode of the Inside the Strategy Room podcast looks at how the COVID-19 crisis has permanently changed workplace conditions and skill-set needs and how corporate leaders can prepare for this future. Susan Lund, an MGI leader and expert in global labor markets, is joined by her report coauthor Sven Smit, cochair of MGI, who helps leading companies develop strategies for growth. An edited transcript of the discussion follows. You can listen to the episode on Apple PodcastsSpotify, or Google Podcasts.

    Sean Brown: Susan, you have led MGI’s work on the pandemic’s impact on the global economy. How does this research fit into that broader effort?

    Susan Lund: We have been studying the long-term impact of COVID-19 after economies reopen, and that includes the jobs, skills, and workforce transitions that will be required. We looked at eight countries that represent different levels of income and economic development to get a global perspective. The first thing we found is that physical proximity matters. We measured proximity metrics for 800 different occupations, from how close interactions with people are to the frequency of those interactions to whether the work is indoors or outdoors. We found that the disruptions will be highest in four arenas: on-site customer interaction, such as in retail; work in leisure and travel, including restaurants and hotels; indoor production and warehousing, which includes factories; and computer-based office work.

    Notice that these categories cover a lot of low-wage, hourly, frontline service jobs. This will be a very different dynamic than what we saw in the past with technology and automation, where service jobs were largely not affected and, in fact, people who were displaced from offices or manufacturing sites could find work in that sector.

    Sean Brown: Are there other trends beyond the impact of the pandemic affecting the future of work?

    Susan Lund: The disruptions are coming from three broad sets of trends. First, COVID-19 accelerated a shift to remote work and virtual meetings. Even after the pandemic, most companies are planning to continue some form of work from home. Additionally, McKinsey’s Travel, Logistics & Infrastructure Practice estimates that 20 percent of business travel may be permanently replaced by virtual meetings, although the same will not be true for leisure travel and tourism. The second big group of trends relates to e-commerce and other digital transactions, from restaurant delivery to telemedicine. All these activities surged in 2020, and many new users have found electronic channels both convenient and efficient and plan to continue using them. Third, there is automation and AI, with companies using technology to adapt to the new realities and planning to implement more technologies in the future.

    Sean Brown: On the point about remote work, what kinds of jobs will continue to be done remotely, and which do you expect to return to work sites?

    Susan Lund: Any activities done on a computer by yourself can be performed just as effectively at home as in an office. However, activities such as negotiations, onboarding new people, brainstorming, and coaching benefit from in-person interaction. When we added it all up, we found that 20 to 25 percent of the workers in advanced economies could work from home three to five days a week [exhibit]. It is still a minority, but that is four to five times as many people as worked from home before the pandemic, so this would have profound implications for what the office will look like. It will be a space used much more for collaboration.


    The more advanced an economy, the greater its potential for remote work.

    We strive to provide individuals with disabilities equal access to our website. If you would like information about this content we will be happy to work with you. Please email us at:

    Another trend in the United States and Europe, which we are not sure will continue after the pandemic, is people moving out of high-cost city centers to suburbs and smaller towns. You see it both in office-vacancy rates and residential rents. That would reverse a decade-long trend in the opposite direction. Some companies, although a distinct minority, are talking about a work-from-anywhere model in which employees could live wherever they choose. Others are considering more distributed footprints, with smaller offices and satellite locations closer to where people live to reduce commute times.

    Sean Brown: How will the large-scale embrace of digitization during this crisis affect the workplace in the future?

    Susan Lund: When we surveyed 800 business executives around the world last summer, two-thirds said they plan to use more automation and AI as they reimagine the next normal. That includes digitization of employee interactions, including remote work, but also a big uptick in the digitization of consumer channels and supply chains. COVID-19 was a massive disruption to supply chains, and it showed that supply-chain management was shockingly analog, which leads to problems such as executives not being able to tell when shocks are coming.

    Sean Brown: With all these shifts, do you anticipate major employment growth in some occupations and big drops in others?

    Susan Lund: We see big growth in healthcare jobs, and that is due not only to COVID-19 but aging populations and higher consumer incomes in countries such as India. STEM [science, technology, engineering, and mathematics] professionals is another growth category, especially for people who design and maintain technology. Creative and transportation jobs will also grow. Transportation was projected to be flat or decline slightly over the next decade with the introduction of autonomous vehicles, but delivery and e-commerce trends are now generating pretty strong growth.

    As for declines, the biggest categories in terms of the sheer number of jobs are customer service and sales. We see continuing automation in factories and warehouses eliminating jobs. Food service is another area of decline. We have not seen much automation there, but the pandemic has had a number of knock-on effects, such as people not going to the office and out for lunch and not traveling for business. And lot of food-service demand is generated by travel and being away from home.

    People in those declining occupational categories—it’s more than 100 million in the eight countries we studied—will need to be retrained into some of the growing occupations. The challenge is not only the large numbers but the jumps they will need to make are much higher than in the past. Traditionally in Europe and in the US, people would go from, say, a food-service job to a hotel job and then maybe to a retail job. That would now mean moving from one declining occupation to another. We will need to figure out how to help them transition to different career pathways. This will disproportionately affect women—four times as many as men—and people without college degrees, as well as young people and ethnic minorities.

    Sean Brown: Where do you expect the resources for this needed retraining to come from so people can move into higher-wage and higher-security jobs?

    Susan Lund: Many large employers are creating those upward career paths—for example, taking the best low-wage employees and putting them through management or digital training. But some companies and sectors will simply see lower head counts, and that is where educational institutions and governments need to step in. One thing we learned over the past five years is that short-term training programs can teach individuals the minimum skills needed to get a job, such as to the lowest level in nursing, in a matter of weeks. To move up to registered-nurse status takes more education, but at least somebody can start on that upward career path.

    Sean Brown: Sven, what are the implications of all these findings for companies trying to reimagine their workforces in the postpandemic era?

    Sven Smit: The most important new factor since COVID-19 is proximity. It is now a consideration in where we work, how we work, what skills we need, and what organizational culture we need. Culture may be the factor people are most concerned about. Can you maintain a corporate culture when people work remotely? More than 70 percent of executives tell us they expect to continue some form of hybrid remote work, where you allow full-time or part-time work from home for selected staff. Some companies are migrating training or related events to online models, reducing the time staff will be expected to travel, and subsidizing the cost of setting up robust work-from-home arrangements.

    [Proximity] is now a consideration in where we work, how we work, what skills we need, and what organizational culture we need.

    Sven Smit

    Companies first need to assess the potential for remote work. Anything that has to do with processing information, performing administrative duties, updating knowledge and learning, or routine communication with clients could shift to remote models. COVID-19 has taught us that some things we thought were best done in person we now find can be done remotely. For example, there is a lithography machine for which service people require ten years of training. When the pandemic hit, these people could not travel, and the work had to be done remotely. People without the skills of these professionals could be successfully guided through virtual reality and remote tools. As a result, the availability of the machines went up.

    Sean Brown: What work practices in particular do you think businesses should try to hang on to?

    Sven Smit: If there is one thing I will remember from COVID-19, it is how fast we moved. We went to remote learning in five or ten days. In telemedicine, we went from 10 percent to 80 percent for first-line contact in five days. We moved at an incredible pace because the crisis forced rapid decision making in flatter, faster organizations in small agile teams, with very dynamic talent reallocation. It saw five years’ worth of innovation in five weeks, and that could continue if we keep those practices. If we held on to even half of them, how much faster would we move into the future? That might be one of our greatest opportunities.

    Sean Brown: How has technology helped business leaders gain this agility and speed in decisions?

    Sven Smit: Machine learning and AI have enabled more virtual assistance and remote operations management than we have ever seen, and they work. Here is an example: sites need to be inspected by auditors with functional expertise and that involved travel for in-person visits as well as managers’ time on the site. It turns out that if you digitize all the site data so it can be inspected by the auditors virtually, the visit need not happen, since the purpose of the visit was to get the data.

    Sean Brown: All this new technology requires new skills, but those skills may not just be technological but social and cognitive. How should business leaders assess the skills that their workforces will need?

    Sven Smit: Companies need to do the homework of classifying the tasks all their employees perform so they understand how much their workforce will change. That is not day-to-day or annual workforce planning; it is a strategic workforce assessment at a fundamental level of each task that can be automated and when. We will have to do that work the same way we did to adapt to lean manufacturing and centralization of global business services.

    Sean Brown: What kinds of skills or tasks do you see particularly rising in importance?

    Sven Smit: The key is a lifelong learning aspiration and a growth mindset, as well as comfort with change, which is not natural for most people. Others are creativity, critical thinking, social intelligence, and then skills in software design and big data analytics. There is a mismatch now of skills and needs that will require significant retraining efforts, as Susan mentioned, and companies cannot rely on the market or the education system to solve it.

    Sean Brown: How trainable are those social and creative skills? Can you teach people to have emotional intelligence?

    Sven Smit: You can do some of this training by leveraging AI and simulating conditions that give people exposure to situations they otherwise would not have. Most people intrinsically have creativity, social intelligence, and communication capabilities—their jobs may simply not tap into them.

    Sean Brown: You mentioned the shift to faster decision making. Has that need for speed reduced collaboration and consensus building in organizations?

    Sven Smit: I don’t think consensus or participation need to go down when you move fast. However, you have to set a deadline for decisions. The important things are transparency and that you have heard everybody. I don’t think engagement went down during this crisis; it probably went up.

    Susan Lund: Many companies have found that operating via videoconference has actually fostered consensus because you see colleagues at home. A dog barks, or a child walks in, and people have gotten to know each other in more personal settings. It’s also less hierarchical. On videoconference, the CEO may be in the bottom left of the screen rather than sitting at the head of the table in a conference room. These shifts have enabled many companies to build closer, stronger-knit executive-leadership teams. The challenge is retaining that. If we move to partial remote-work situations where some people are in the room and others are not, how do we make sure that does not create a two-tier culture?

    If we move to partial remote-work situations where some people are in the room and others are not, how do we make sure that does not create a two-tier culture?

    Susan Lund

    Sean Brown: What kind of hurdles do companies need to overcome to make their workforces more agile?

    Sven Smit: One is the adaptability to what has been an avalanche of change. For example, the army decouples planning teams from execution teams, and that accelerates adaptability. You also have to make the challenge clear to employees. Some companies have literally said, “In three years, we need to reach this destination. Ninety percent of you will have different jobs, and the other 10 percent probably will not be working here. But the 90 percent of you can acquire those new skills, and here is your training program.” I believe people are more adaptable if they know where things are heading, so you need to be intentional and transparent about the journey and give people the tools and time to adapt.

    Sean Brown: It sounds like corporate leaders have hard work ahead to figure out what workforce transitions they will need. How should they get started?

    Sven Smit: You need to work on two fronts. There is a technical aspect where you literally take your current workforce and your expected future workforce and go skill by skill to understand the capabilities you will need in various areas. Then there is the design of the journey, the training investments and managing the change.

    Susan Lund: There are technology tools to help you assess your starting point. What skills does your current workforce have? What are their tasks and roles? Individuals then have to refine that and say, “I’m good at econometrics but I’m not good at basket weaving.” That is then married to your vision of how technology will transform your company and which business units will be the future growth drivers.

    Sean Brown: As executives plan the future of their workforce, what are the main questions they should ask themselves and their teams?

    Sven Smit: There are six questions that can help executives go through the challenge structurally. How can you reconfigure the workforce and the workplace to increase agility, raise productivity, and empower workers while maintaining the culture? Are you positioned to leverage technologies and take advantage of the long-term trends accelerated by them? What are we doing to close the skill gaps? Are you clearly and transparently communicating your plans and supporting workers in making transitions? Are you supporting their lifelong learning? And finally, are you leveraging ecosystem partners to increase the effectiveness of those efforts?

    On the last point, don’t only look at your own company but at other companies in the region that could be part of the solution. I have seen some great examples of collaboration between regional or national governments and multiple companies to take a statewide or countrywide view of the future of work and try to clear some of the skills mismatches between companies.

    Sean Brown: What about this new future of work is each of you most excited about?

    Sven Smit: We are in this “and” world. For example, we are having quick meetings through technology and we can make in-person meetings much better. In that, we are learning something from the crisis.

    Susan Lund: The silver lining is that companies have refocused on their employees’ experience, and I think that will continue. That bodes well for a more enjoyable future workplace for everyone.


    Susan Lund is a partner in McKinsey’s Washington, DC, office, and Sven Smit is a senior partner in the Amsterdam office. Sean Brown, global director of communications for the Strategy and Corporate Finance Practice, is based in the Boston office.

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    Source: McKinsey & Company

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