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Jul 15, 2022
This article is part of a series called The Most Interesting HR Stories of the Week.

Louisiana hospital tells staff ‘gas is on us’

With inflation topping nearly 9%, it’s no surprise the cost of living is beginning to be the number one concern of many Americans. But staff at Sterling Surgical Hospital in Slidell, La, have found salvation in the form of their CEO, Dawn Cazedessus. This week she announced the hospital would pay employee’s gas costs to come to work for the rest of the year. Her pledge means each of the hospital’s 85 full- and part-time employees will have their fuel costs covered for at least six months via fleet gas cards purchased by Sterling Surgical. Each full-time employee will get $200 a month for the rest of the year, while each part-time employee will get $100 a month to cover gas. Those that work at the hospital on an as-needed basis will receive a $50 gift card that they can use at a gas station of their choosing. “I sat back and said, ‘They’re feeling it’,” said Cazedessus speaking to Beckers Hospital Review. “She added: :I wanted our people to know, ‘We appreciate you’’.

Amazon issued 13,000 disciplinary notes at a single warehouse

Online behemoth, Amazon – which is often criticized for scrupulously monitoring every minute of their employees’ work – has been revealed to have issued 13,000 ‘disciplines’ at a single warehouse in the year ending 2020. The warehouse – at Staten Island – is reported to have issued enough of the ‘supportive feedback documents’ for employees to have received an average of 2.5 each. Amazon disclosed this number in response to a complaint by the National Labor Relations Board over an employee’s dismissal. In a statement reported by CNBC, Amazon said it sets goals that are “fair and based on what the majority of the team is actually accomplishing.” Examples of Amazon disciplining employees include for meeting 94% of the company’s productivity goal instead of 100%; for scanning items at 164 per hour, below the target of about 175; and exceeding a break time by four minutes.

West Virginia offers $20,000 to attract workers

With twice as many job openings as there is talent to fill them, states are having to get creative to encourage people to move there. And one – West Virginia – has decided to put its money where its mouth is. It’s giving people $20,000 in cash and incentives to help persuade them move to the state and live there for two years. The scheme – called Ascend West Virginia – has already accepted 86 new workers among the thousands of applicants it has already received. Of those attracted to the state, many are relocating with spouses and family members. In total, the program aims to attract more than 1,000 workers over the next five years. The scheme pays $12,000 in cash, and offers other benefits – including a year of free recreation (worth up to $2,500) and free gear rental.

Microsoft announces plans to cut 1% of its workforce…

In what it calls a ‘realignment of its business groups’, tech giant, Microsoft is making its first job cull in five years. The company says it will axe 1% of its 180,000 workforce. Roles under threat are reportedly those in consulting, in its consumer division, and its partner solutions business. TechCrunch reports that Microsoft said: “Today we notified a small number of employees that their roles have been eliminated.” It added: “This was a result of a strategic realignment, and, like all companies, we evaluate our business on a regular basis. We continue to invest in certain areas and grow headcount in the year ahead.” According to TechCrunch Microsoft has recently slowed hiring in its Windows, Teams and Office groups and despite strong earnings, in early June, it revised its Q4 revenue and earnings guidance downward, citing the impact of foreign exchange fluctuations.

…as Google CEO memos staff to say hiring will slow in 2023

A staff memo from Google CEO, Sundar Pichai, has revealed the search engine giant will slow the pace of hiring next year in response to the “uncertain” economic outlook. Although he said the company would still be hiring “engineering, technical and other critical roles,” Pichai conceded that “like all companies,” Google wasn’t immune to “economic headwinds.” The communication revealed Google had hired more than 10,000 new staff in Q2 alone, but that for the rest of 2022 and 2023, hiring would only be that which “aligned with our long-term priorities.” In a slightly cutting remark though, the memo also appeared to take a swipe at staff. It said: “Moving forward, we need to be more entrepreneurial, working with greater urgency, sharper focus, and more hunger than we’ve shown on sunnier days.”

Job growth figures defy expectations – but labour participation still dips

Non-farm payrolls grew by a much larger than expected 372,000 in June, according to latest Bureau of Labor statistics. Economists had been predicting a more modest rise of 265,000, meaning the Federal Reserve should – according to the Financial Times – have more leeway to continue rising interest rates to curb inflation. These most recent gains now mean unemployment is down to the pre-pandemic level of 3.2%. According to the data, professional and business services jobs jumped by the most for the month, with 74,000 positions added. Employment in the leisure and hospitality sector rose by 67,000, helping to close a still 1.3 million gap for the sector compared to pre-pandemic levels. Nearly 40,000 jobs were added to the transportation and warehousing sector with another 30,000 jobs created in manufacturing. Despite the big rise in jobs though, the data also revealed that, overall, labor force participation actually ‘fell’ by 353,000 to 62.2%. That still means there are 1% less people in work than before the pandemic.

Department of Labor finds care home deliberately withheld overtime wages

An investigation by the US Department of Labor (DOL) has found that Home 2 U – the operating company of seven Los Angeles-based residential care homes –intentionally denied 22 workers thousands of dollars in overtime wages. Not only this, the company then tried to cover up their actions by altering timekeeping records. The investigation found workers were paid normal hourly rates for hours worked beyond a 40-hour week. According to the Department of Labor: “Investigators determined the employer was fully aware of federal overtime laws when they withheld overtime wages and illegally altered timekeeping records to cover up their actions.” The unpaid wages, denied to 22 workers, added up to more the $56,000. The case is just the latest in a string of incidents affecting healthcare workers specifically. In fiscal year 2021, the DOL recovered $13.8 million in back wages for more than 17,000 workers in the healthcare industry.


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