The cost of ‘workplace injustice’ revealed; Walmart promises bonuses to all hourly-staff

In this week's HR headlines round-up: The cost of 'workplace injustice' is revealed; Walmart pledges bonuses for hourly staff; Trumps promises to ban tax on tips (plus much more):

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Jun 13, 2024
This article is part of a series called The Most Interesting HR Stories of the Week.

Walmart to offer bonus program to 700,000 hourly store workers

Retail giant, Walmart, has announced it is to pay bonuses to all its US hourly-paid workers – including staff at its pharmacy and Vision Center Stores. Both part-time and full-time associates will be eligible for a financial bonus of up to $1,000 a year – and the idea for it actually came from feedback from store workers, Walmart US CEO John Furner said on a call with reporters. The bonus announcement was made just hours ahead of its annual general meeting where investors voted on seven shareholders proposals, including one urging Walmart to set a compensation policy that provides workers with minimum earnings necessary to meet a family’s basic needs. “It’s important that we are competitive on base wages,” Furner said on a call with reporters. The move follows Walmart’s earlier announcement in January of a bonus redesign for its US store managers, allowing them to earn an annual bonus that’s up to 200% of their salary. Critics however, still note that Walmart’s starting minimum wage is $14 – which is less than the starting wage at Amazon. Walmart employs about 1.6 million US workers, a majority of whom staff its 4,700 Walmart stores.

Workplace ‘injustice’ costs nearly $100bn per year

‘Workplace injustice’ – such mistreatment or bystander behavior – costs the American economy more than $914 billion per year due to increased employee turnover and disengagement. This is the finding of new research by 937 Strategy Group and Anton Gunn, which finds 66% of participants polled said they experienced injustice at work while 83% of employers admitted they took no action when their employees experienced injustice. The report – The State of Workplace Injustice Report – also found that when employees did report an ‘injustice’, 92% of people said they didn’t experience a positive outcome from doing so. It found that undermining staff and harassment towards staff contributed to 12% of turnover intentions – which would cost a 5,000-employee organization $24.6 million. Additionally, the report found that bystander behavior and undermining accounted for 42% of counterproductive workplace behavior. Workplace abuse and undermining was also found to account for a total of 26% of workplace disengagement. It concluded that American employers are losing a staggering $777.9 billion due to employee disengagement, with an additional $136.8 billion directly attributable to turnover tied to workplace injustices.

Chinese spies targeting ‘disgruntled workers’…

Employers are being urged to brace themselves against a concerted effort by foreign actors who are actively targeting “disgruntled employees” for information. The warning – by Michael C. Casey, director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center – was given at the latest CNBC CEO Council Summit in Washington, D.C. According to Casey, the major concern for CEOs is the growing use of “human assets” – individuals within organizations recruited to steal intellectual property, data, or other valuable information. “These are the employees who are having money problems, marital problems that someone can take advantage of,” he explained. He called for programs to identify and support such employees, expressing surprise at the lack of insider threat awareness in many companies. He added: “It [China’s activities], won’t stop, because it works; because they keep succeeding,” he said. He added: “China has published their list of desired technologies and then they go get it and it works.” Casey continued: “China is “by far the most prolific actor out there and the one coming after us across the board and in the hardest way possible.” He said there had been a 100% surge in cyber incidents and ransomware demands.

…as ex Wells Fargo worker is banned from banking sector after selling data

A former Wells Fargo worker has been banned by the US Office of the Comptroller of Currency (OCC), from ever working in the banking sector, after the employee misappropriated confidential details of customers and sold the information, leading to a wave of fraudulent transactions. The employee, Bathia Greene, caused Wells Fargo to lose $688,000 as a result of the activity. In its summing up, the regular said: “During the period from approximately October 2021 to January 2022, Respondent misappropriated confidential information of Bank customers and sold the information to a third party, resulting in fraudulent transactions.” It added: “[The] Respondent’s misconduct resulted in financial gain to Respondent and loss or risk of loss to the Bank and demonstrated personal dishonesty and willful or continuing disregard for the safety and soundness of the Bank.” The OCC’s judgement now bans Greene from participating in the activities of any insured US banks, credit unions, federal banking agencies, Farm Credit institutions, Federal Home Loan Banks and the Federal Housing Finance Agency.

Trump promises to ban tax on tips

In a sign that the election campaign is now in full swing, Donald Trump said that if he is reelected this November, he would nix taxes on employee tips. “When I get to office, we are going to not charge taxes on tips, on people making tips,” said the Republican former president and 2024 presidential candidate, at a rally in Nevada. More than one in four private sector workers in Nevada are employed in the tip-heavy hospitality industry, according to up-to-date state figures. In July, Nevada’s minimum wage for tipped employees will rise to $4.35 an hour, but employers will still be required to make sure those workers earn a total of at least $9.50 an hour. The rally marked Trump’s first since he was convicted on May 30 of 34 felony counts related to a hush money payment to porn star, Stormy Daniels, ahead of the 2016 election. Nevada has long been seen as a reliably Democratic state, in part due to the organizing power of labor unions in the state. But this year, Republicans believe they can flip Nevada, partly due to the state’s Black and Latino populations. Several recent polls have showed Trump narrowly edging out Biden in key battleground states like Nevada, which will likely determine the outcome of the November election.

Jobs data reveals a complicated picture

The much anticipated jobs data for May from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, reveals a much more complicated picture, according to experts. Although 272,000 jobs were added, unemployment actually rose slightly, to 4.0%. Closer analysis of the data also reveals that while the total number of jobs increased, the total number of employed workers fell by 408,000 people. The more accurate assessment is that total household employment is actually unchanged from the June 2023 level. Here total employed persons totaled 161,004,000. In May 2024, the total was 161,083,000. Effectively, total employment has been flat for nearly a year. Further analysis also reveals that the economy is adding far more part-time jobs than it is adding full-time jobs. In fact, the economy is rapidly shedding full-time jobs. Of the 2.5 million new jobs created in the last 11 months, total part time jobs numbered 1.7 million. In the same period, full time jobs fell by 1.5 million. May’s drop in full-time work was the second-largest since the Covid-19 panic. Studies have shown that economies tend to shift to part-time work in times of economic downturn as a means of allowing employers more flexibility in reducing costs.

Hearing to protect pubic workers’ social security benefits begins

The latest attempt to repeal two federal provisions that reduce retirement income for many public servants has begun. Currently, public workers who take a second job, or start a new job after retiring from public service are left with unexpected cuts in the social security benefit they can collect. US Sen. Sherrod Brown announced a repeal bill that currently has the support of 59 Senators — just one shy of the number needed to bring it to a vote. According to Brown’s office, nearly 3 million beneficiaries have seen their social security checks reduced because of the law. “The people it effects are not powerful special interests,” Brown said. “They’re local cops they’re local sheriff’s deputies, they’re firefighters, they’re teachers, they’re bus drivers, they pick up our trash, they plow our roads.” He added: “Punishing public service by cutting social security they earned in other jobs is not a good way to recruit and retain workers — [it] makes no sense.” According to Brown, social security benefit reductions of 50% or more are common.

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