Most interesting HR stories of the week

Ex-Google employee blasts ‘dark’ reason for perks

A former Google staffer’s TikTok video has gone viral after he revealed the so-called ‘true purpose’ of the search engine giant’s lavish perks. In a video that has now been watched nearly 7 million times, Ken Waks, who formerly worked at Google’s corporate headquarters at the Googleplex in Mountain View, California, claims Google’s free meals, free transport and dog-friendly offices are a ruse to make staff work more for less. Reported in The Daily Mail, he is quoted as saying: “At Google you get three square meals a day, for free. But dinner would start at 6 or 6:30, so you had to stay late working more to get the free food,” he told viewers. He added: “I loved that you could bring your dog to the office and the offices were dog friendly. But in reality, they did that so you would not leave the office to go take care of your dog.” According to Waks, these were the real “dark reasons” the perks there so good. However, not everyone has agreed with him. Comments to the video include: “How can you complain about free perks? Try working in healthcare or in retail or the food industry.” Another said: “Bro, if these things are ‘dark’ to you it’s obvious you’ve had a silver spoon all of your life.”

NFL requires teams to have a ‘diverse person’ on their team

In a move to improve diversity amongst the coaching staff of teams (70% of players are black, but most head coaches are white), The National Football League has approved changes to its rules that require all 32 teams to employ a diverse person (defined as a female or member of an ethnic or racial minority), in a offensive assistant coach position. The measures, adopted at its annual meeting, aim to improve the fact that only 39% of coaching positions are occupied by people of color. In 2021 just one of the league’s vacant head coaching positions went to a minority candidate. The league is also creating a six-person advisory panel to review diversity policies. The moves come after sacked Miami Dolphins coach, Brian Flores, filed a lawsuit against the NFL and its 32 teams, claiming it discriminated against black candidates for coaching and management jobs.

Amazon bracing itself for worker union vote

Bosses at Amazon were this week reported to be nervously awaiting the outcome of a vote that could see workers get the right to join a labour union – something which would be a first for Amazon in the US. Workers at three of its warehouses in New York and Alabama have been voting on the move, after years of labor unrest that have seen demands for better pay, longer breaks, more time off and paid medical leave go ignored. According to Yahoo! News, “the stakes are nothing short of the future of the American worker.” Last year Amazon saw off a similar vote in Alabama – where workers voted 2-1 against unionization, but this time it is expected the vote (which started counting on 28 March), will be much closer. Amazon is staunchly anti-union. Said a company spokesperson: “As a company we don’t think unions are the best answer for our employees. Our focus remains on working directly with our team to continue making Amazon a great place to work.”

The ‘Great Resignation’ continues its not-so-great advance

Data reported by CNN this week shows that there’s nothing ‘great’ about the so-called ‘Great Resignation’. It reported latest Bureau of Labor statistics which revealed 4.4 million Americans quit their jobs last month – which was higher than the number that did so in January. All-told it means that available positions stay at their all-time high of 11.4 million. The Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey data revealed that more workers quit jobs in retail, manufacturing and state and local government education, while fewer people quit the finance and insurance sector. Against the 4.4 million people who left their jobs in February, 6.7 million started new jobs. According the CNN, the leading factor contributing to the continued high quit rate is rising inflation. It suggests staff are quitting in the hope of moving to better paid jobs. Analysts say US consumer prices will rise by 7% this year.

Supreme Court to lock horns with Texas over discrimination claim

The Supreme Court looks set to be on a collision course with officials in Texas over its support for a former Army reservist, Le Roy Torres, wanting to sue his employers for not accommodating a medical condition. Torres sustained lung damage while on tour in Iraq in 2007 and claims that when he found work as a Texas state trooper, he was forced out of his job after his employers failed to take note of special conditions he needed. The government claims the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, enacted by Congress in 1994, gives military reservists and National Guard members the ability to sue employers who deny them the right to return to work after serving the country. Texas argues it is protected from employment discrimination claims by service members in state courts because of state sovereign immunity under the Constitution. Said justice Stephen Breyer: “This has the potential of being a pretty important case for the structure of the United States of America.”

Staff drugs tests hit 20-year high

Forgive the pun, but the numbers of positive employee drugs tests have reached new highs. According to the Wall Street Journal, of the more six million-plus general workforce urine tests screening for marijuana last year by Quest Diagnostics Inc, 3.9% came back positive, an increase of more than 8% from 2020 according to Quest’s annual drug-testing index. This figure is up 50% compared to 2017. Although the increase is partly explained by the number of states legalizing marijuana rising from 8 to 18 in the last five years, many employees can still be fired for testing positive. Said Michelle Bearden, chief risk and operating officer for Houston-based staffing and recruiting firm, Link Staffing Services Inc: “Marijuana is still on the federal list of prohibited substances, and that is what our policies are driven by at this point.” Overall, the proportion of US workers testing positive for various drugs screened in 2021 rose to 4.6%, the highest level since 2001, according to Quest, which analyzed nearly nine million urine tests last year on behalf of employers.

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Two-fifths of US jobs can be done at home, finds research

According to data published by Tech.co, almost two-fifths (37%) of all US jobs can now be done from home – although it also accepts that there is debate about the exact proportion. It cites data from McKinsey, which puts the figure at around 29%. The actual number of Americans working from home at least some of the time is – as it happens – virtually identical to the average between the two: 35%. But what’s also noted is the fact that there is a growing divide forming between those that can, and those that cannot work from home. Moreover, the divide is a pay one too. Jobs that can be done from home are the most highly paid, with 37% of workers that can work from home earning around 46% of all US wages. The report concludes “the ability to work from home has made a substantial, positive difference to the lives of millions of workers, whilst nothing has changed for others.”

 

 

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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