Half of staff who quit in Great Resignation regret it; California sued over farmworker law

In this week's HR news round-up: Most staff who quit during 2022 regret it; new farmworker unionization law challenged; Mercedes workers vote for union membership, plus Hermes staff get big bonuses

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May 16, 2024
This article is part of a series called The Most Interesting HR Stories of the Week.

Half of workers who quit during ‘Great Resignation’ regret it

Research has found that nearly half of Americans who quit their jobs during the so-called ‘Great Resignation’ now regret their decision. At the height of the Great Resignation around 3% of Americans (or some 4.5 million people), were quitting their job every month. However, additional data from LinkedIn and Microsoft has found that despite this, more people still want to quit their job this year (46%) than did so at the height of the Great Resignation (40%). LinkedIn says it has seen a 14% surge in job applications per role since the fall, while around 85% of American says they are potentially looking for a new role at some point this year. LinkedIn’s Workforce Confidence Index finds 59% of Americans who are actively looking for a new job say they feel stuck in their job, and 51% say they feel burnt out by their job. Likewise, Microsoft’s Work Trend Index finds 68% of workers are struggling with the pace of their job, and 46% say they are feeling burned out. But in a separate study by The Conference Board, those who quit their jobs in 2022 are less satisfied in work today compared to those that didn’t quit. Some 47 million Americans left their jobs in 2021 alone.

Agricultural firm sues California over farmworker unionization law…

The ink has barely dried on a new law allowing farmworkers to unionize, but already one of California’s most influential agricultural companies has filed a lawsuit to try and stop the new legislation from being enacted. The action comes from Wonderful Co – the $6 billion company founded by Stewart and Lynda Resnick – both of whom have donated to President Joe Biden and California governor, Newsom. It makes a host of products recognizable to most grocery store shoppers, including Halos mandarin oranges, Wonderful Pistachios, POM Wonderful pomegranate juice and Fiji Water brands. Farmworkers have not been covered by federal rules for labor organizing in the United States. But California, which harvests much of the country’s produce, enacted a law and created a special board in 1975 to protect their right to unionize. The new law lets farmworkers unionize by collecting a majority of signatures without holding an election at a polling place — a condition proponents say protects workers from employers applying pressure or trying to retaliate against employees who vote to unionize. A union is formed if more than half of workers sign an authorization card. Wonderful argues the law is unconstitutional by going too far in cutting employers out of the process. Newsom’s office said it was reviewing the lawsuit before responding and included his statement from when he signed the legislation, that “California’s farmworkers are the lifeblood of our state, and they have the fundamental right to unionize and advocate for themselves in the workplace.”

…as Mercedes workers begin voting on whether to join United Auto Workers union

Factory workers at Mercedes’ Alabama plant have this week been voting on whether to join the United Auto Workers union (UAW) – in what is being seen as a significant test of whether the labor group can maintain momentum in the historically anti-union American South. Victory for the union – which last year held motor manufacturers to ransom, and delayed production for months – could be a watershed moment in the popularity of the union – given the vote comes just weeks after Volkswagen workers in Tennessee overwhelmingly voted to join the union. Mercedes is reportedly fighting hard to win the vote, by putting up fliers and signage urging members not to unionize, as well as hiring ‘anti-union’ firms to speak with workers. In doing so, the German automaker has been criticized for trying to influence the vote, but according to Reuters, a spokeswoman said the company respects employee unionizing efforts and is simply ensuring every worker has “the information needed to make an informed choice.” Some 5,200 employees at the assembly plant and nearby battery factory have been casting their ballots all week, with final results expected tomorrow. Last year UAW President Shawn Fain managed to secure a 25% wage increase for workers at General Motors, Ford, and Jeep-maker Stellantis.

Hermes staff see big bonus after record sales growth

While the ever-increasing cost of living might have been impacting the majority of people in 2023, for the mega rich, last year was business as usual, with sales at luxury fashion brand, Hermes, up more than 17% in the Americas alone in the final quarter of 2023. And, to thank staff for helping it increase its net profit to $4.63 billion for Q4 2023, the company has announced a $4,000 bonus to all staff worldwide. In a statement, Hermes said the bonus is part of its commitment as a responsible employer and its policy of “sharing the fruits of growth with all those who contribute to it on a daily basis.” Hermes also proposed an increase in dividends for shareholders from 13 euros ($14) in 2022 to 15 euros ($16) at its general meeting. Axel Dumas, executive chairman of Hermes, said the brand “has once again cultivated its singularity and achieved an outstanding performance in all métiers and across all regions against a high base.” Hermes’ Q4 profit was 28% more than its entire profit for 2022. Thanking all those working for the company, Dumas added: “These solid results reflect the strong desirability of our collections and the commitment and talent of the house’s women and men.”

Employees demand more continuous learning

New research by TalentLMS has revealed continuous learning is now amongst employees’ top wants. The survey – which polled more than 1,000 staff across a range of industries – found a significant 71% of employees express a desire to update their skills more frequently, while an overwhelming majority (80%) want companies to invest more in up-skilling and re-skilling. Desire for more learning appears driven by fears from employees that their skills will soon become obsolete. Nearly four in 10 employees (37%) said they were concerned that their current skills would not be needed in the future, and 64% of respondents said up-skilling and reskilling training has been useful for their job security. Commenting on the results, Nikhil Arora, CEO of TalentLMS parent company, Epignosis, said: “It comes as no surprise that personal growth has emerged as the number one motivator for employees to participate in up-skilling and reskilling programs. People seek a sense of purpose and inspiration, and learning has always empowered them in this pursuit.” The survey also found satisfaction with up-skilling programs grows with age. It peaks at 77% for employees over 54 years old and bottoms out at 54% among Gen Z employees. The poll suggests 20% of Gen Zers don’t think their manager or supervisor understands their skill development needs.

Walmart wants workers to relocate to larger hubs

America’s largest private employer – Walmart – is reportedly cutting jobs, requiring staff to return to the office, and is asking them to relocate to larger hubs too. Reports suggest employees in smaller offices in Dallas, Atlanta, and Toronto are being requested to transition to larger hubs like Walmart’s corporate headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas. Layoffs are hitting corporate positions in the Dallas, Atlanta and Toronto locations too, while layoff notices have also been published in the state of Wisconsin and California, following closure of four stores in California, one in Maryland and one in Ohio. The announcements come as the retailer continues with its plans to have 65% of its stores to be serviced by automation by 2026. According to Walmart CEO, Doug McMillon, automated warehouses will eliminate much of time workers spend sorting merchandise. Business Insider also recently reported that Walmart will close a Bay Area store in May as well as a Neighborhood Market in Milwaukee bringing the confirmed closures in 2024 to eight. Earlier this month, Walmart also announced that it will close all 51 of its health clinics and shut its virtual health care operations.

Schneider recognized for commitment to hiring veterans

Schneider National – the provider of multi-modal transportation, inter-modal and logistics services – has been recognized for its commitment to hiring people from the armed services. It has been named a 2024 Military Friendly Employer and a Military Spouse Friendly Employer for its outstanding work in recruiting, hiring retaining military veterans. The Military Friendly Employer award is based on public information and surveys, highlighting companies that demonstrate strong support for service members and veterans and career advancement practices. Awardees of the Military Spouse Friendly Employer designation recognize the importance of identifying and supporting military spouses/dependents in their workforce. More than 1,500 companies competed for Military Friendly designations this year. Schneider has a long history of supporting veterans, dating back to its founder, Al Schneider, who was a longtime member of the National Guard. The company offers exceptional veteran programs and career opportunities for those who have served America. Thirteen percent of Schneider’s associates have military experience and two of Schneider’s executives – Jim Filter and Rob Reich – are also veterans.

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