Most interesting HR stories of the week

Musk finally gets round to talking to Twitter employees…

More than two months after billionaire Elon Musk, bought social media company, Twitter, he is to finally speak to staff this week. According to US News, Musk was scheduled speak to Twitter employees yesterday for the first time. According to an email from Twitter chief executive, Parag Agrawal, to staff, Musk will take questions directly from Twitter employees – many of whom have complained they have been left in the dark about their jobs since Musk’s takeover was confirmed. Says US News: “Back in April, Agrawal was seen quelling employee anger during a company-wide meeting where staff demanded answers to how managers planned to handle an anticipated mass exodus prompted by Musk.” Ever since Musk’s takeover bid, Twitter employees have expressed concern that the billionaire’s erratic behavior could destabilize the social media company’s business, and hurt it financially.

…as Cisco boss tells employees new gun laws are needed

The boss of Cisco – Chuck Robbins – has made the unusual step of telling employees he wants stricter gun control laws. Wading into the controversial topic in the aftermath of the mass shooting at Uvalde, Texas, Robbins addressed staff at a live chat with staff. He said he wants to see new laws including stricter background checks. The move is seen as being as significant, because the company has both staff and employees all across America — on both sides of the political spectrum — and a work culture that CNBC argues is “generally viewed as more conservative than many of its younger Silicon Valley peers.” Apparently, his words led to “a heated debate on an internal chat board as employees began arguing their positions on the issue.” CNBC adds: “Eventually an executive in human resources intervened to try and keep the discussion apolitical.” Some employees were reportedly angry with Robbins, accusing him and the company of trying to take away their Second Amendment rights. Another group of staff jumped in to defend Robbins and said his statements were being misinterpreted.

K-12 workers are the most ‘burned out’

Data just published from Gallup’s Panel Workforce Study 2022 reveals K-12 workers report being the most burned out of all employee in America, with nearly half (44%) saying they “always” or “very often” feel burned out at work. College and university workers have the next-highest burnout level, at 35%, making educators among the most burned out groups in the U.S. workforce. The data is worrying because K-12 workers were already the most exhausted, and this new data shows yet another upward trend. In March 2020 – at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic – 36% of K-12 workers reported feeling burned out very often or always, eight percentage points higher than the 28% found among all other workers as a whole. But now this gap has nearly doubled. Burnout levels are higher among female K-12 workers than their male counterparts. Female teachers in particular are more burned out, at 55%, with male teachers at 44%.

Wage gap between US CEOs and ordinary staff widens even further

The wage gap between US chief executives and workers has grown even further, according to study of 300 top US companies released by the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS). It finds CEOs earn an average of $10.6m, while the median worker received $23,968 – a gap of 670-to-1 (meaning the average CEO received $670 in compensation for every $1 the worker received). According to The Guardian, the ratio was is up from 604-to-1 in 2020. Meanwhile, it reports 49 firms had ratios above 1,000-to-1. The figures were published in a report called ‘Executive Excess’ which found that two-thirds of low-wage corporations that cut worker pay in 2021 also spent billions inflating CEO pay through stock buybacks. One of the companies sampled included Amazon, where last month shareholders approved a $212m pay deal for Amazon’s CEO, Andy Jassy. His pay is now 6,474 times the company’s median pay.

New law hailed as important victory for public sector workers

Thousands of municipal workers have won the right to form unions, in a new law, which is being hailed as significant for public sector workers in Colorado. The state was one of 24 which either banned or limited collective bargaining rights for public sector workers – a practice which campaigners say has led to these workers having (on average) 22.9% lower pay than similar private sector workers due to them having no collective bargaining rights. Colorado’s governor, Jared Polis, has now signed the Collective Bargaining for Counties bill into law, which expands collective bargaining rights to 36,000 county workers throughout Colorado. It is being regarded as one of the most significant expansions of collective bargaining rights for public sector workers in recent years, and goes into effect from next year. Lee Saunders, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees said: “All across the nation, workers are fighting tooth and nail to get a seat at the table, and they’re winning. In Colorado, workers will have the freedom to negotiate to improve their lives and strengthen the public services they provide.”

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Stipends for remote working proving to be a thorny issue

Tech Target reports how increasing numbers of employers are being left unsure about whether to reimburse staff for internet/phone/heating costs while working at home. It argues employers are resisting paying for things like broadband, because it’s a service staff already choose to have for their private lives. But tensions are apparently rising, with Amazon currently fighting a lawsuit in California, where a software engineer wants reimbursement for internet and electric costs incurred from working from home during the Covid-19 pandemic. Amazon has lost its bid to get this case thrown out. According to Tech Target, an employer’s legal responsibility varies from state to state. Currently, 11 states and Washington, D.C., require expense reimbursement for remote work. It also adds that leaving it up to the employee to decide whether they want to work remotely doesn’t necessarily absolve the employer of its reimbursement obligation.”

Most employees living paycheck to paycheck

Inflation is so rampant, that more than a third (34%) of employees earning $50-$100,000 per year, and 36% of those earning more than $100,000 pa say they now live paycheck to paycheck. This is the worrying picture according to research by Willis Towers Watson. These percentages have doubled since only 2019, and illustrates – it argues – just how serious the cost of living has become. For those earning less than $50,000 per year, the data shows life is even more parlous, with 52% of this population living paycheck to paycheck. The research comes as data reveals The Consumer Price Index was up 8.6% in May compared to a year earlier. This represents the highest inflation reading for 40 years. “Employees at higher pay levels aren’t immune to living paycheck to paycheck,” said Mark Smrecek, the financial wellbeing market leader for North America at Willis Towers Watson.

 

Peter Crush is the interim editor of TLNT. He’s an award-winning journalist based in London, and he writes exclusively about the ever-changing world of work.

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