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Oct 21, 2022
This article is part of a series called The Most Interesting HR Stories of the Week.

Talent-short companies relaxing policies on visible tattoos

Disney, UPS and Virgin Atlantic have all been revealed as just some of a growing list of companies that have decided to relax their policies around tattoos being on show in the workplace. The response – it is claimed – is due to the ever-tightening labor market, which is making it harder to find and keep good people. Enrica Ruggs, associate professor at the University of Houston C.T. Bauer College of Business Department of Management and Leadership, said there has long been a perception that tattoos hark back to biker culture and that only rebellious people got them. However, she now says its is becoming more widely understood that tattoos reflect a sense of belonging or contain call-outs to a culture or profession. A recent Rasmussen Reports survey found nearly half of Americans under 40 have tattoos. New York City Council currently has a bill that would look to curb discrimination against people with tattoos, including those displayed in the workplace.

Amazon staff reject unionization at warehouse in New York City

In what has been seen as a shock result, Amazon employees have this week rejected organizing a New York state warehouse by a margin of nearly two-to-one. At ALB1, the retailer’s fulfillment center in Castleton-on-Hudson near the state’s capital Albany, employees voted 406 to 206 against joining the Amazon Labor Union in the company’s fourth such contest of the year. Turnout was more than 64%. The vote halts a recent fledgling unionization movement within the company. With Tuesday’s loss, it now means Amazon workers have rejected forming unions three times this year, including at a second New York City facility and another in Alabama. Even where in ‘won’ a vote in Staten Island earlier this year, the result has not yet officially been ratified, as a US labor board director is reviewing objections to that contest by Amazon before certifying the result. Kelly Nantel, an Amazon spokesperson, said: “We’re glad that our team in Albany was able to have their voices heard, and that they chose to keep the direct relationship with Amazon as we think that this is the best arrangement for both our employees and customers.”

HRDs urged to care about Seasonal Affective Disorder

With the days drawing in, and sunlight hours each day, HRDs are being urged not to forget about the scourge of Seasonal Affective Disorder. According to the National Mental Health Association, around 10 million Americans suffer from this lesser known form of depression, which is triggered by a change in the seasons. According to experts, seasonal affective disorders share many of the same symptoms of chronic anxiety and depression – including lethargy, irritability, loss of interest, mood swings or sadness. Amy Mosher, chief people officer at HR platform, isolved, said: “Employers should be aware of changes in habits and moods, especially around high-stress times like the holiday.” She added: “Staff might lash out at their coworkers and are less flexible in how they’re completing their work or how they’re communicating. You also just see a lack of interaction – people pull back and they’re not on chat as much.”

Data is the only way to prove WFH productivity, says Microsoft CEO

Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella, has waded into the debate about whether staff are more productive working from home or working in the office, and he argues the only way to answer this question is through data. His comments follow Microsoft’s recent Work Trends Study, which found 87% of employees say they’re more productive when they work remotely or in a hybrid setup; but 85% of employers say it’s difficult to have confidence in their workers’ productivity when they’re not there in-person. Speaking at Yahoo Finance’s All Markets Summit on Monday, he claimed the only way the impasse could be solved was by facts: “I think the best way to bridge the paradox is not to have more dogma, but more data,” he said. “Instead of this being some kind of argument, let the data really help us move forward.” Nadella practices what he preaches. Microsoft’s hybrid policy lets employees work remotely for at least half of the time without manager approval.

Proposed minimum wage draws criticism from both sides

A proposal to raise the minimum wage in Portland – which would also ban employers paying tip-earning staff less than the minimum wage – is attracting division from both sides of the argument. Currently, it’s perfectly legal for Portland employers to pay tipped staff a wage of just $6.50 per hour – with their earnings then topped up by tips. Minimum wage supporters say this is wrong, and claim a universal minimum wage (of $18 per hour by 2025), would reduce the need for customers to subsidize the wages of tip-earning employees. But opponents want to keep the system as it is, saying most tip-earning workers earn significantly more than the proposed $15 per hour minimum wage, and that if their wage structure was replaced by a minimum wage, tips was fall dramatically, leaving them worse off. Roughly 63,500 people work in Portland, with about 1,500 of them working under the tip credit system. At least seven other states already require tipped workers to earn the same minimum wage as all other workers. A study last year by the liberal Center for American Progress found that poverty rates are lower for tipped workers in those states.

Twitter staff barred from selling shares in sign Musk deal will complete

An update on Twitter’s employee FAQ page suggests the company’s $44bn sale to billionaire Elon Musk will be completed by the proposed 28th October deadline. Staff have been alerted that they won’t be able to access or trade shares from its Equity Award Center. The update said the change was done “in anticipation of the closing of the pending acquisition of Twitter by an entity controlled by Elon Musk.” When Bloomberg broke the news that staff could no longer trade shares, this in itself sent Twitter’s share price up by 1.8% to $51.6. Initially Musk had tried to walk away from the deal, claiming Twitter underreported the number of spam and bot accounts. However, in a last minute change of mind, Musk reversed his decision, to allow the deal to go ahead.

Samsung named ‘Top Employer in the World’

As accolades go, being named the Top Employer in the World’ is a biggie, and this year, this title goes (again) to Samsung. The awards – run by Forbes – are now in their 6th year, and are compiled by Statista, which surveyed 150,000 full-time and part-time workers from multinational companies in 57 countries. Organizations looked at were ranked against metrics including their talent development, gender equality and social responsibility. This is the third year the Samsung Group has landed the top spot, after jumping from 106th place in 2019. However, US-tech companies dominate the top ten: Second came Microsoft, followed by IBM, Alpabet, and Apple. Adobe was placed 8th and Dell Technologies was placed 10th.


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