CHROs must hire hourly staff better; heat waves could cost $100bn pa in lost productivity

Rising temperatures threaten US and global productivity rates; recruiters need to hire hourly staff differently from salaried staff, finds report:

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Jul 28, 2023

Employers urged to update hiring practices for hourly staff

Employers are missing out on hiring low-skilled hourly-staff, by using the same recruitment techniques used to hire skilled salaried staff, according to new data from Fountain. It finds 70% of employers questioned use the same hiring process for hourly staff as they do for white-collar workers, with 90% believing a resume is important for hourly workers and 65% saying they spend at least some of their time reviewing cover letters. But this is at odds with how hourly staff want to be recruited. Fountain found 90% of hourly and frontline workers are actively looking for easy-to-apply-for jobs on their phones or their tablets, but 62% of employers are still depending on in-person interviews, and only 6% of companies primarily source candidates through social media platforms like LinkedIn. “It’s a myth that a good resume is a strong predictor of who’s going to work great on the frontlines,” said Sean Behr, CEO at Fountain. He added: “When it comes to the stores and the warehouses and the hospitals, there is no slowdown whatsoever. Having selectivity is important, but it needs to move later in the process.” According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of US job openings recently hit 10 million, most of which are made up of positions in hourly sectors, like retail and warehousing. Nearly a quarter of frontline employers are experiencing turnover of more than 30% turnover, while 60% reported a turnover rate of more than 10%.

US heat waves could cost the economy $100bn pa…

Repeated heat waves like the one America is suffering from could cost the economy more than $100 billion annually. Kathy Baughman McLeod, director of the Adrienne Arsht-Rockefeller Foundation Resilience Center at the Atlantic Council, said: “The way that heat hits us, is that our thinking gets slowed down, our concentration is really tough, our hand-eye coordination is off, we’re tired, and we make mistakes. She added: “Heat is accelerating so quickly that our self-perceptions of risk are not keeping pace. And so that also means that as an employer, our perceptions of our workers’ risks are not keeping pace either.” The warnings around dips in productivity caused by heat exhaustion come as Moody’s predicts “chronic physical risk from heat stress could reduce worldwide GDP by up to 17.6% by 2100.” According to Baughman, remote working could only exacerbate the problem, because employees who work from their home do not have access to the same sorts of air-conditioned environments that offices have, leading to staff experiencing sleep disruption, causing exhaustion and poor performance.”

…as Congressman goes on ‘thirst strike’ to draw attention to workers rights in extreme heat

A Texas congressman has gone without food and water on the steps of the US Capitol to highlight the need for federal safety standards for those working in extreme heat conditions. Congressman Greg Casar (D-Texas) organized the ‘thirst strike’ to also pay respects to workers who have died from heat-related illnesses while on the job. “Protection from extreme heat is a matter of life and death for many workers and their families across the United States,” the members of congress said in a letter addressed to Julie Su, acting secretary for the US Department of Labor, and Douglas L. Parker, assistant secretary for occupational safety and health at the department. Casar wants Su and Parker to establish “an enforceable federal standard” to ensure workers and employers can recognize and respond to the signs of heat stress. Based on analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics, campaign group Public Citizen estimates that occupational heat stress causes on average 700 deaths and 170,000 illnesses and injuries annually in the US. This year is expected to be the hottest on record, after record-breaking temperatures in June and July.

Anheuser-Bunch to lay off hundreds of US staff in wake of Bud Light ad disaster

Brewing giant, Anheuser-Bunch has announced it will be laying off around 2% of its US workforce. The job cuts follow a torrid few months for the beer maker, after its disastrous link with trans-influencer, Dylan Mulvaney, saw Bud Light lose its two-decade-long title as America’s favorite beer. “Today we took the very difficult, but necessary, decision to eliminate a number of positions across our corporate organization,” said Anheuser-Busch CEO, Brendan Whitworth. Workers who are laid off will receive severance pay, paid out of their unused vacation time, receive six months of continued company-paid health insurance benefits and help finding a new job, according to an email sent to employees Wednesday. Since the link-up with Mulvaney, Anheuser-Busch has tanked more than $27 billion in market value and two of its top executives took a ‘leave of absence.’ Earlier this month, Bud Light lost its place in the top 10 beers in the US list.

Judge rules Starbucks illegally fired worker for union activities

Coffee-chain, Starbucks, violated US labor laws when a Manhattan store manager fired an employee for organizing workers to join a union. In its summary, National Labor Relations Board judge, Benjamin Green, found “striking and strong evidence of animus” behind Starbucks’ termination of Rhythm Heaton, a shift supervisor at its Astor Place store. Green found it “particularly suspicious” that Starbucks would risk violating the law “by discharging an excellent employee at a time when the short-handed Astor Place store was already advertising to hire another shift supervisor.” The case is just one of many flashpoints between Starbucks and its staff over employee moves to have union representation in recent years. According to the summary, Heaton began encountering resistance from Starbucks in late 2021, after contacting Workers United, which represents baristas and shift supervisors at about 320 corporate-owned US stores, and started work on organizing union activities. Carley Russell, the lawyer representing Heaton, said the decision benefits workers seeking “more democratic workplaces” by showing that Starbucks cannot “crush the union with impunity.”

Amazon bolstering its benefits

Retail behemoth, Amazon, is bolstering its FamilyFlex benefits program, by offering staff 14 new perks and resources around four key areas: finance, mental health, cancer care, and scheduling. Included in the new provisions are access to a savings account paying interest of 4.33% (the national average bank account pays just 0.04%); a new charitable giving benefit, that makes it easier for staff to give to good causes, and an emergency savings program, which enables staff to set aside a portion of their paycheck automatically each pay period and have access to the funds when they are needed. Cancer care has also been improved, as has mental health provision, with staff now able to receive five free general counseling sessions per year. Amazon has also partnered the National Alliance on Mental Illness, giving employees access to community-based family and peer support services. A new ‘hardship schedule adjustment’ will let staff temporarily work less than a full-time schedule if personal issues threaten to interfere with their work schedules. Meanwhile, employees are now able to request accommodations for religious observances. Amazon first introduced Family Flex in November 2021, which already includes pregnancy and parental leave, adoption assistance and, in select positions, the ability to swap shifts.

Federal Bank says US will avoid a recession this year

In what will largely be seen as mixed news for employers, Federal Reserve chair, Jerome Powell, has downgraded the possibility of America going into recession this year. While that might sound like good news, interest rate rises designed to curb inflation mean employers may still find themselves having to make more staff redundant, while for staff who stay, wage growth will now be much slower. “Given the resilience of the economy recently they [Fed staff] are no longer forecasting a recession,” the Fed chief said at a press conference. The key question, however, is whether interest rate rises will create what’s known as a ‘soft-landing’ – where the economy can avoid a recession even as growth slows. “I wouldn’t use the term ‘optimism’ about this year,” Powell said. “I would say there’s a pathway to a soft landing.” Data from The Congressional Budget Office now finds the economy will slow to a 0.4% annual rate before rebounding.