Most Interesting HR stories of the week

And they call it, puppy love…

We all know that by 2025, millennials (those born between 1980-1994), will comprise the largest proportion of the US workforce. But did you know pet-owning millennials will be one of the biggest sub-categories of this group? No? Well you do now, and according to Benefits Pro this means one thing – employers will soon have to beef up their benefits portfolio to include pet-friendly perks too. These include everything from comprehensive accident and illness pet health insurance plans, as well as wellness plans for preventative and expected pet care. It argues that in the era of ‘The Great Resignation’, it’s firms that have their paws on the pulse, and diversify their benefits packages, that will survive the best. You heard it here first.

Tesla to pay Ukrainian staff three months’ wages if conscripted to fight

Bombs might be raining down on Ukraine at the moment, but Tesla boss, Elon Musk, is determined to bring the fight to Putin by guaranteeing that he’ll pay any Ukrainian staff three months’ worth of wages if they’re called up by president Zelensky to fight. According to an email sent to staff seen by CNBC, “any Tesla employee who is a Ukrainian national and has been asked to return to Ukraine for active duty as a reservist, we will maintain their employment and salary for 3 months, with a view to assessing after this period as needed.” [sic] The email also added: “As a priority, HR EMEA team members have been connecting with employees impacted as well as their managers to ensure we check in. We will continue to ensure we provide meaningful and targeted support for our employees.”

SAP staff under fire for continuing to support Russian customers

With scores of multinational firms either pulling staff out of Russia, or refusing to do business with the Ukraine-invading country, software company, SAP, has been criticized for continuing to provide support for Russian businesses that use its services. The software giant employs 20,000 people in America, and its enterprise services are used by the likes of Sberbank and Aeroflot. But despite Russia’s widely condemned invasion of Ukraine, it continues to offer technical support. SAP’s CEO Christian Klien said that although it would “not accept new orders or solicit new business” from the country, it would still “serve our existing customers within the scope of our contractual commitments and as far as sanctions and export control restrictions permit.” In a tweet,, Ukraine’s vice PM Mykhailo Fedorov responded by saying: “This is not enough! Bloody invader’s army continues to kill our civil population. We ask you to stop support of SAP products, as long as Russian tanks and missiles attack Ukraine.”

Automation linked to rising mortality rates

Automation is strong linked to increased mortality. This is the surprising relationship discovered in a study by researchers at Yale and the University of Pennsylvania. According to the academics, the recent decline in the number of manufacturing jobs (caused by automation) resulted in a parallel reduction in the total number of manufacturing jobs that provided health insurance coverage, which has been linked to lack of early detection of-, and increased mortality for conditions such as cancer and heart disease. The researchers also found that automation has created a rise in so-called ‘deaths of despair’ – that is deaths from suicide, drug overdose and alcohol abuse, caused by people being made unemployed.

Competitive labour market is a “fiction” claims new report

A Treasury Department report has rubbished claims it is a job seekers’ market, by arguing that the idea the US has a competitive labour market is “fiction”. The report suggests that employers actually face little competition for their workers, which allows them to pay substantially less than they would otherwise need to. It concludes that lack of competition in the job market costs workers between 15-25% of what they might otherwise earn. The report is critical of non-compete agreements that bar workers from moving to a competitor, as well as the presence of nondisclosure agreements that keep staff from sharing information about wages and working conditions from each other. It also noted that some companies make no-poaching deals. “There is a long list of insidious efforts to take power out of the hands of workers and seize it for employers’ gain,” said Seth Harris, deputy director at the National Economic Council and deputy assistant to the president for labor and the economy.

Disney boss says company stands by LGBT+ employees

Disney CEO, Bob Chapek, has acknowledged the disappointment staff must have felt by the company not denouncing recently-passed Florida legislation that bans discussions about sexuality and gender in schools. After LGBT+ activists protested outside Disney’s headquarters last week for it not being clear that it objects to the new law, Chapek sent a memo to staff directly tackling the topic. He said: “The entire leadership team unequivocally stand in support of our LGBTQ+ employees, their families, and their communities.” He added: “We all share the same goal of a more tolerant, respectful world. I believe the best way for our company to bring about lasting change is through the inspiring content we produce, the welcoming culture we create, and the diverse community organizations we support.”

No end to worker shortages in sight

Figures from the latest Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey suggest America’s worker shortage is far from over. The data, compiled by The Bureau of Labour Statistics, shows USA still has 11.3 million job openings. This figure is down only a tiny fraction from December’s 11.4 peak, and it shows employers still have a long road ahead of them. The data also revealed that 6.5 million people were hired between December 2021 and January 2022, but the job openings rate is still high because 4.3 million Americans quit their jobs at the start of the year. On a more positive note, the ‘quit rate’ improved to 2.8% in January. This is an improvement from the 3% recorded in December.

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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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