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Sep 30, 2022
This article is part of a series called The Most Interesting HR Stories of the Week.

Walmart to offer fertility benefits to staff

Walmart – the nation’s largest private employer – has revealed it is to start offering a range a fertility benefits to staff. The perks – offered as part of its enhanced insurance plan – include in-vitro fertilization as well as fertility testing regardless of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or marital status. The additions come through a partnership with Kindbody. The Los Angeles Times reports that Walmart employees will also get access to more than 30 of Kindbody’s fertility clinics and IVF labs across the U.S. These same clinics will also be able to help eligible workers access Walmart’s surrogacy and adoption benefits. “Providing access to high-quality healthcare is very important to us, and we’ve heard from our associates that improved access to fertility, surrogacy and adoption support is a priority for them and their families,” said Kim Lupo, Walmart’s senior vice president of global total rewards. The new benefits will be available from 1st November.

Amazon to spend $1 billion in pay rises for hourly staff

Amazon has announced that it is increasing the wages of frontline staff from an average of $18 per hour to $19 per hour, with employees now set to earn between $16-$26 per hour depending on their position and geographical location. The rise will cost the company nearly $1 billion, and on top of this, Amazon has also promised to invest more in skills training and wage access programs. Said John Felton, Amazon’s senior vice president of worldwide operations: “Continuing to invest in pay, providing easy access to earned wages at any time during the month, and offering great benefits and career advancement opportunities are all part of our long-term efforts to be the best employer in the world.” Amazon’s early wage access scheme is through Anytime Pay. It enables staff to access to up to 70% of their eligible earned pay, whenever they choose (ie without waiting till pay day), and without fees. The new perks start next week.

Samsung celebrates ‘Samsung Gives Day of Service’

Thousands of US staff at technology giant, Samsung, have celebrated its annual Samsung Gives Day of Service event, by participating in events designed to give back to their local communities. Events included everything from cleaning up parks and renovating gardens, to visiting schools and educating young people about STEM opportunities. With the help of Samsung Electronics America’s six Employee Resource Groups, the company was also able to partner with many local DE&I-supporting organizations. In Texas, for instance, staff assisted with reading and learning amongst preschoolers at Mi Escuelita Preschool. “At Samsung, we are dedicated to empowering our employees and driving positive change in communities nationwide,” said Michelle Crossan-Matos, chief marketing, citizenship & communications officer at Samsung Electronics America. In total there were 2,000 opportunities for service across North America, and participants partnered with 38 different non-profit organizations.

Unnecessary meetings cost large US businesses $100 million+ a year

Meetings that simply aren’t needed, cost large businesses more than $100 million per year according to research by Steven Rogelberg, professor of organizational science, psychology and management at the University of North Carolina. Interviews with 632 employees across 20 industries revealed that most workers didn’t need to be in a third of the meetings they are asked to attend. It found employees spend an average of 18 hours a week in meetings, and they only decline 14% of invites even though they’d prefer to back out of 31% of them. Reluctantly going to noncritical meetings wastes about US $25,000 per employee annually. “Meetings do control us, and bad meetings have an enormous cost,” said Rogelberg. He said most managers don’t talk to their staff about how and when to decline meetings – mostly because it’s managers themselves that call them. The research comes on the back of data from Microsoft, which recently found that time spent in meetings has more than tripled since February 2020, and the number of weekly meetings has more than doubled.

Starbucks bows to union contracts pressure

After months of confrontation between newly unionized stores and executives over the level of perks and conditions staff receive compared to those in non-unionized stores, Starbucks has announced it is planning to negotiate the first employment contracts with unionized coffee shops next month. The Seattle-based company sent letters to union organizers in 234 stores last Friday, announcing that negotiations could begin in October, according to a Starbucks blog post. “We are looking forward to these negotiations and we hope to set dates and provide locations for contract negotiations,” the post said. Workers United, an affiliate of Service Employees International Union, said employees at some stores had waited more than five months for discussions to begin on issues such as employee safety, discrimination and respect in the workplace. When contract negotiations start, it has been reported that workers are likely to ask for one key piece of employment protection: to only be fired for just cause, according to barista and union spokesman Casey Moore.

WhatsApp-messaging staff land banks with $2 billion in fines

Failure by banks to manage their staff using WhatsApp and other unauthorized messaging apps have landed them with more than $2 billion in fines. The Securities and Exchange Commission announced $1.1 billion in fines and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission disclosed $710 million in penalties in separate statements on Tuesday. The levies – against firms including Bank of America Corp., Citigroup Inc. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. – combined with JPMorgan Chase & Co’s $200 million in fines from December, bring the total to $2.01 billion, making them the biggest penalties ever against US banks for record-keeping lapses. Bank of America had the biggest CFTC penalty, at $100 million, followed by Barclays, Citigroup, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and UBS at $75 million each. “As technology changes, it’s even more important that registrants appropriately conduct their communications about business matters within only official channels, and they must maintain and preserve those communications,” said SEC Chair Gary Gensler.

Employees say corporate mantras don’t tally with reality

New research reveals that nearly four out of ten Americans (38%), believe there is a significant difference between the culture their workplace claims to have compared to the reality of what’s actually there. Polling by LifeWorks, for its latest Mental Health Index, found that the employee group that sees a strong disparity between the employer’s claim of a positive culture and their day-to-day reality, has a mental health score six points below the national average and almost 14 points below people who believe reality is aligned with employer claims. Overall the research finds employees’ mental health scores for August were just 69.4 points out of 100. Nine percent of respondents said their workplace culture does not promote inclusiveness, and this group has a mental health score eight points below the national average. Almost one in ten (9%) report that their current workplace culture decreases their productivity. The mental health score of this group is 56.3, some 13 points below the national average.



This article is part of a series called The Most Interesting HR Stories of the Week.