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Aug 5, 2022
This article is part of a series called The Most Interesting HR Stories of the Week.

Call for cashiers to be allowed to sit on the job

Cashiers in US supermarkets should be allowed to sit on stools or seats while working – but they don’t under current working practices, claims The Press Herald. It notes that cashiers in supermarkets around the world are routinely allowed to sit, even though US workers do not (the only exception being German-based Aldi, which operates some 2,000 stores in the United States, and uses European-style checkouts, allowing its employees to sit). Technically, staff should be provided with seating if they want it – a 2016 ruling by the California Supreme Court issued guidance which states that “all working employees shall be provided with suitable seats when the nature of the work reasonably permits the use of seats.” The Press Herald claims supermarket cashiers need seats, but a Safeway spokesperson said that it is precisely because cashiers’ job requires them to lift heavy objects – laundry detergent, frozen or fresh turkeys etc. – that they should stand, in order to avoid injury.

Most job-switchers bag themselves a 10% pay rise

It’s no wonder employers are having a hard time holding on to staff at the moment. New data reveals that the typical worker who changed jobs between April 2021-March 2022 got themselves a 10% pay hike – and that’s ‘after’ taking account of inflation. This contrasts to the plight of employees who stay faithful to their employer – people who see a 1.7% ‘fall’ in their real wages. The data, by the Pew Research Centre, found half of workers who switched jobs got a net pay increase of 9.7% or more. The rest got a smaller net rise. Commenting on the data, Daniel Zhao, senior economist at Glassdoor said: “Workers have the most leverage when they go out and switch jobs and find another employer willing to reset their pay to the market level.” He added: “Employers don’t have as much incentive to give big raises to employees who remain in their current roles, because they’re implying a willingness to stay put for their current pay.”

Reuters journalists decide to down-pens

Journalists working for Thomson Reuters Corp in the US yesterday started a 24-hour strike in a dispute about pay. The walkout – the first “for decades,” was agreed to by 90% of its 300 employees, and centers around being offered just a 1% pay rise. Against a backdrop of 9% inflation its union have accused managers of not working in good faith with its staff. In a statement given to Aljazeera, energy reporter Tim McLaughlin, who is also a member of the Communications Workers of America’s NewsGuild’s bargaining committee said: “In 2020 we were all asked to step up. Everyone just rose to the occasion, and we thought – wrongly as it turns out – that we would get something in return.” A statement from Reuters said it was “fully committed to constructive negotiations with the NewsGuild” and that conversations were “ongoing”. Reuters employees timed Thursday’s walkout to coincide with the company’s second-quarter earnings announcement – which revealed total company revenue up 6% from a year earlier, to $1.67 billion.

US job market to stay strong – finds new report

Hiring intentions remain strong well into the second half of this year – despite fears of a recession – according to a new report by Robert Half International. It’s latest ‘State of US Hiring’ polling found 46% of managers said they would be adding new permanent positions in the latter half of the year, while only 8% said they expected to institute hiring freezes or layoffs. According to the research, 45% of managers plan to bring in more contract professionals by the end of the year, while 72% of employers intend to hire more entry-level or early-career professionals. To achieve this, 46% said they would be increasing starting salaries, while 34% said they would offer signing-on bonuses. A further 33% said they would be tempting new hires by offering more remote and flexible working options. Interestingly, 28% also said they would be ‘loosening’ their education, experience or skill requirements. “Despite talk of an economic slowdown, many companies remain in hiring mode — and professionals with in-demand skills continue to have options,” said Paul McDonald, Robert Half senior executive director.

Bureaucrats need to be more ‘fireable’ proposes new bill

A new bill has been proposed by five Republican representatives which would make it easier for the president to fire officials from their roles. Chip Roy, a Texan representative, and one of the five behind the bill, said: “Most career civil servants do their jobs faithfully day-in, day-out,” but added: “There are still too many federal employees actively undermining America through their blatant contempt for our nation, the rule of law, and the American people.” The bill is unlikely to pass the current Democrat-controlled House of Representatives, but it is significant, as it comes ahead of mid-term elections in November that could see the Republicans take back control of the lower chamber. The bill was also published just days after it was revealed former president, Donald Trump, was planning a purge of thousands of career civil servants should he be re-elected in 2024.

Study finds ‘mindful’ staff are less likely to quit

Employees who practice mindfulness are less bored at work and less likely to quit, according to a new study. Research was carried out amongst 174 blue-collar workers at a Mexican manufacturing plant along the Mexico-US border. The jobs these workers do is processing coupons – roles that are highly repetitive and where there are no incentives for performing well. The study found that after four months’ mindfulness training staff were less bored by their monotonous work and performed work tasks to a higher standard. The study noted that workplace mindfulness tended to be implemented in white-collar roles, but the results of the study could impact how monotonous working environments are managed for blue-collar jobs. The study’s co-author Jochen Menges, who teaches at the University of Zürich and Cambridge Judge Business School, said: “Monotonous jobs are held by millions of people around the world and more research needs to be done about those jobs.”

Employers increasingly turning to benefits to address diverse workforce needs

Data from the just-published 2022 U.S. Physical & Emotional Wellbeing Report finds employers are increasingly recognizing the importance of changing benefits to appeal to a diverse workforce. It finds that nearly half of employers (46%) cover infertility services or fertility treatments, while nearly half of employers now provide permanent life (46%), hospital indemnity (45%) or cancer care (43%) insurance. Said William F. Ziebell, CEO of Gallagher’s Benefits & HR consulting division: “A one-size fits all total rewards package is no longer an option. Attracting employees, even in the best of times, can be challenging. But in today’s complex environment, employers who leverage an array of benefits that appeal to a diverse workforce are better positioned to attract the right person for the right job and keep them.”


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