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Feb 3, 2023
This article is part of a series called The Most Interesting HR Stories of the Week.

GM staff set to pocket record profit share

A union-negotiated formula that requires General Motors to give a profit share to workers at a rate of $1,000 for every $1 billion in annual earnings has (literally) paid dividends for staff, after the carmaker’s North America pretax profits were announced to be $12.9 billion. The profits – up from $10.3 billion a year ago – mean that around 42,300 US hourly workers will receive a profit-sharing check of up to $12,750. It is an increase from the $10,250 paid out in 2021 and the $9,000 paid in 2020. The highest previous payout was in 2016, at $12,000 per employee, making this year’s bonus a record one. If an hourly employee accrued 1,850 or more compensated hours during 2021, they will receive the full payout – which will be issued to staff on February 24th. Staff reportedly have GM’s supply chain team to thank for the bonus. According to GM’s CFO, it was they who secured parts, in the face of global supply shortages, to keep production going.

Stereotyping veterans as ‘heroes’ limits their future careers

A study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology has revealed that people tend to think that careers ranked low for selfishness (such as being a firefighter or public school teacher), would be a better cultural fit and better suited to a veteran’s skills than careers ranked higher in selfishness, such as real estate agents or private bankers. The results prove, argues the research, that the ‘hero mentality’ often given to former military personnel could be an impediment to them securing high-level careers. In fact the research found that the more “heroic” respondents believed veterans to be, the more likely they were to think that veterans would be willing to make a career out of serving others at the expense of desires such as financial security or providing for their family. “There are lots of reasons why Americans enlist in the military, and we should not assume that veterans want to make a career out of serving others, especially at the expense of other needs and desires,” said lead author, Matthew Stanley, a post-doctoral research associate at Duke University. “By funneling veterans into specific jobs, organizations, and careers associated with selflessness, we may be unfairly limiting their agency and limiting their options.”

McDonald’s opens first robot-serving restaurant

It sounds like something straight out of a sci-fi film, but it’s very much real, and to be found in White Settlement near Fort Worth, Texas: a McDonald’s restaurant that has no frontline staff. According to the burger giant, the location has no human counter workers at – customers simply order what they want on a screen, and robots bring out the food. Food is still cooked by real people in a kitchen behind, but customers won’t be able to see or interact with them at all. Just one of the features being tested includes an “Order Ahead lane,” where customers can receive their order on a conveyor belt. The restaurant is the latest move in McDonald’s “Accelerating the Arches” growth strategy, which is working on innovation to improve customer experiences. Twitter users have been broadly supportive of the move, with one saying: “Awesome. No more attitude at the counter,” while another said: “Maybe my order will finally be right.”

Apple violated workers rights – NLRB

Technology giant, Apple, did violate workers’ rights, according to prosecutors at the National Labor Relations Board, when it introduced rules that “tend to interfere with, restrain or coerce employees” from exercising their rights to collective action. A dispute was first brought to the agency by former employee, Ashley Gjovik, who filed claims in 2021 alleging that CEO Tim Cook sent an email to staff pledging to punish leakers. Gjovik also claimed policies in Apple’s employee handbook violated federal law. Gjovik’s filings cited policies restricting staff from disclosing “business information,” talking to reporters, revealing co-workers’ compensation or posting impolite tweets. According to NLRB spokesperson, Kayla Blado, the agency “found merit to a charge alleging statements and conduct by Apple – including high-level executives – violated the National Labor Relations Act.” Unless Apple settles, the board’s regional director will issue a complaint against the company. In recent months NLRB prosecutors have also found merit in complaints that Apple illegally coerced workers at its retail stores in Atlanta and New York City, where some employees were seeking to unionize.

Connecticut ranked best for work-life balance…

New data from employment services company, Remote, has crowned Connecticut as the state with the best work-life balance. Based on factors including annual leave (as well as sick and maternity leave), minimum wage, healthcare access, happiness, average working hours, and LGBTQ+ inclusivity, the research revealed the state’s minimum wage of $14 per hour was 34% higher than the national average. It also revealed the state offers 12 weeks’ statutory leave and is the only state to offer a 95% maternity payment rate. It topped the league table with a score of 66.86, and was followed by Washington (62.79); New York (62.75) and California (61.26). The majority of the best states for work-life balance are on the coast, with most located in the northeast. Only three states are out west, with two – Oregon and Washington – in the Pacific Northwest. But according to Sherry Leiwant, co-president of workers’ rights advocacy organization A Better Balance, the league table also highlights how America still has much more to do: “It really is a scandal in the United States that there is no national paid sick days law that covers all workers,” she said.

…as pharmacies to reduce opening hours to protect staff work/life balance

CVS and Walmart are both reportedly reducing their pharmacy operating hours across the US in a bid to improve employees’ work-life balance. The move comes as both chains continue to struggle with staffing shortages. Beginning in March, CVS said it would be “adjusting hours in select stores,” as part of a periodic review of operating hours “to make sure we’re open during peak customer demand.” The move will affect roughly two-thirds of the company’s approximately 9,000 retail pharmacies. Walmart has also announced that it is cutting hours at its pharmacy locations nationwide to improve “work-life balance” for its associates. Walmart pharmacies will now only be open from 9am-7pm Monday through Friday instead of being open until 9 pm on weekdays.

Employees increasingly experiencing financial stress

Below inflation pay rises combined with economic uncertainty is causing as many as two-thirds of Americans to suffer from financial anxiety. This is according to the results of the third Franklin Templeton’s Voice of the American Worker Study, which found that the percentage claiming to be ‘highly stressed’ by their financial health was up 7% year-on-year to 42%. It finds that two-thirds of workers (66%) report that the current economic environment will likely encourage them to stay with their current employer. More specifically, 89% said they are likely to stay with their current job for the next year. But with a third saying their sleep is now being impacted by worry, and 22% saying they are distracted at work, the study suggests employers need to do more to help. “With the stress of a potential recession on the horizon, it’s critical for employers to check in with their employees to see how they’re feeling and offer comprehensive, personalized support,” said Yaqub Ahmed, head of US retirement, insurance & 529 at Franklin Templeton. The research found 82% of staff said their employer should increase salary and benefit offerings to address rising inflation. Moeover, 70% would like more holistic benefit options to better assess their progress toward financial goals in the current economic climate.

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