A recent Gallup poll of Americans showed that 56% of smokers believe they are at least occasionally discriminated against in public or employment life with 13% of them claiming that they are discriminated against daily. Smokers report the most common forms of discrimination come in the forms of bans at places such as beaches and parks. In addition, smokers face higher insurance rates and smokers claim they are discriminated against in the hiring process.
My posts generally revolve around hiring so I will neglect the challenges smokers face at the beach and in Yellowstone and focus on their hiring dilemmas. Yes, smokers do face discrimination during the hiring process and may be turned down for employment solely because of their habit. Reasons for this are smokers have higher health care costs and absenteeism from work. Co-workers are also likely to grow annoyed with the frequent smoke breaks that smokers take. For instance my son, a non-smoker, frequently complained about having to leave work late because the individual who was assigned to take over his register first wanted to have a cigarette before coming on duty.
A few states protect smokers from job discrimination but is this reasonable? If an employee or job applicant is engaged in a habit that is scientifically proven to be detrimental to themselves, to those around them and increases company expenses, why would that individual not expect some sort of negative reaction? An employee sneaking off for five minutes every hour to look at pornography on their mobile device would expect a rightful reprimand even if their behavior in no way affected their co-workers or cost the company an increase in expenses. Why then are smokers miffed?
I used to smoke back when smoking wasn’t so out of vogue. I sympathize with the cravings smokers have but I also worked and never smoked until I departed work. Not smoking is possible for long stretches of time. A smoker cannot expect their fellow co-workers not to grow perturbed by their frequent cigarette breaks especially if the non-smokers must pick up the slack in their co-worker’s absence.
Wikipedia defines addiction as “a brain disorder characterized by compulsive engagement in rewarding stimuli, despite adverse consequences.” If an individual is not truly addicted to smoking then their best course of action is to quit or at the very least, refrain from stepping outside every hour. However, if they claim to be addicted, then by definition they must expect adverse consequences. These adverse consequences may manifest as discrimination in the hiring process. I take issue with using the word “discrimination” though. Not hiring an employee engaged in a bad habit that causes them to work less and costs the company more in healthcare costs sounds more like plain common sense than prejudice.
Do you agree or disagree?
Opioids such as Fentanyl, Percocet and Hydrocodone, are prescription pain relievers presently prescribed at an alarming rate. These drugs aren’t injected through a dirty syringe or snorted from a glass coffee table next to an overflowing ashtray, these are pills popped out of a common orange bottle filled at your local pharmacy and prescribed by your friendly neighborhood doctor. As innocent as they appear, opioids, according to the CDC, killed 33,000 Americans in 2015. Those dying are not careless, sallow eyed teens. Many are everyday working class joes who became addicted to opioids while trying to deal with the pain of an injury. Quite a few of your co-workers are likely addicted and you may not even know it.
Here are a few startling statistics that capture the seriousness of this epidemic:
· Thirty-five percent of Americans were prescribed opioid painkillers in 2015 – Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
· 23% of the U.S. workforce have used prescription drugs non-medically – National Safety Council
· According to the federal Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration, roughly 10 to 12 percent of workers are under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs while at work.
· A 2017 survey of more than 500 HR professionals by the Center For Disease Control revealed that 39% reported that employees missed work due to opioid use, 15% that opioid use caused or nearly caused a workplace injury and 10% have had workers overdose from opioids on or off the job.
· Injured workers who are prescribed even one opioid have average total claim costs four times greater than similar claims from workers who were not prescribed opioids – National Safety Council
· A 2016 CDC study estimates that nonfatal overdoses cost $20 billion in lost productivity.
· Fifty-seven percent of companies drug test all their employees, but 41% of those tests don’t screen for opioid pain relievers – National Safety Council
· According to a NSC employer survey, only 13% of respondents are confident their workers could identify opioid abuse among their colleagues.
Managers must be cognizant of potential abuse in their workplace. Here are a few signs to look for when detecting opioid abuse:
· Mood swings
· Changes in energy level – They nod off on the job
· Signs of withdrawal – Flu, nausea, diarrhea, sweating, shaking, aches, runny nose
· Pill bottles in trash can
· Financial problems – Borrowing money
What steps can you as an employer take to create a drug free workplace?
· Enact a clear drug policy.
· Train employees on the dangers of illegal and prescription drugs and how to seek help.
· Train supervisors on how to spot potential drug abuse and what steps they should follow.
· Create an employee assistance program which enables employees to access services for personal concerns privately.
· Expand your drug testing beyond the commonly used five-panel test to one that detects commonly used opioids such as oxycodone.
To get employees the help they really need, HR professionals must take care to remove the stigma of addiction and not shame their employees. This is perhaps the first step to providing real help.
According to Christine Porath, Associate Professor at Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business, 25% of employees surveyed in 1998 reported being treated rudely at work at least once a week. That number rose to 55% in 2011 and increased further to 62% in 2016. A second poll by Weber Shandwick, Powell Tate, and KRC Research showed that 70% of Americans think that political incivility has reached “crisis” levels.
Catherine Mattice, president of Civility Partners LLC, describes incivility as, “…any sort of rudeness, any sort of micro-aggression, anything you do that causes the other person to feel uncomfortable or unhappy.”
At the watercooler the talk is no longer about Game of Thrones’ episodes but rather discussions about the President’s latest policy decisions, immigration and a border wall. All of these topics have a chance of alienating/infuriating particular races, religions and nationalities. Not all incivility however originates with political disagreements. A survey Porath took two years ago showed that over half of workers behaved uncivilly because of work overload and, oddly, forty percent claimed they had no time to be nice, while a quarter behaved rudely because their bosses also behaved as such. Other factors contributing to the rise of rudeness are cultural clashes and an increase in narcissism among younger adults.
What is the price of workplace unrest? According to a study by Porath and Amir Erez, professor of management at the University of Florida, an individual’s cognitive skills dropped thirty percent after rude treatment. Harmful treatment may cause physical or mental health problems as well. The American Psychological Association estimates that workplace stress costs companies billions every year in employee turnover, absenteeism and lower productivity. A poll of 800 managers and employees conducted by Porath revealed that those treated disrespectfully at work intentionally decreased the quality of their work and the amount of time invested in it. In addition, workplace harassment may lead to expensive lawsuits.
Clearly incivility is a destructive force but how important is showing respect? According to Porath, respect shown by a leader is the most important key to producing commitment and engagement from employees. It outweighs showing recognition and appreciation, feedback and even opportunities for growth.
So listen, forget about President Trump for a moment! Game of Thrones will return in July. Once again we can talk about the war in Westeros rather than the war in the workplace.
The US Department of Labor recently criticized Google suggesting that the tech giant was routinely underpaying its female employees. Eileen Naughton, Google’s VP of people operations, refuted this claim, pointing out that Google conducts an annual gender blind pay equality analysis which reveals any pay discrepancies, and if any exist among any demographic group, their pay is adjusted accordingly.
Glassdoor, the job board and company review site, reviewed thousands of salaries as reported voluntarily by Google employees and found that women and men working similar jobs generally are paid the same. Why then all the hub bub? Because at Google women are paid 16% less than men overall. This data doesn’t make sense if Glassdoor’s data suggests that men and women are paid equally for the same work. This is where the confusion exists. Men are not being paid more than women within the same roles, they are paid more on average because they occupy more senior roles that command higher salaries. At Google for example, 52% of males worked as software engineers while only half as many women occupied that highly paid role.
Dr. Andrew Chamberlain, Glassdoor’s chief economist, said that men and women, for several reasons, are sorted into different jobs with different pay structures within the same company. This separation is what economists refer to as occupational segregation and is responsible for about 54% of the gender pay gap in the U.S.
Google is not paying women less than men for equal work but it does appear to be favoring men for more senior positions. Is this discrimination or is there a shortage of women from which to choose for the high paying roles such as software developer? Going further, are men better equipped to fill certain roles than women and vice versa? I have scoured the web and according to women, here are a few roles that men will never be better at than women and roles women will not be better at than men.
10 Jobs Men Will Never Be Able to Do Better Than Women
· Marketing and advertising
· Manager and supervisor
· Waiting tables
· Yoga/Fitness instructor
· Information clerk and customer care professional
· Gynecologist and obstetrician
· Nurse and professional caregiver
· Kindergarten and preschool teacher
10 Jobs Women Will Never Be Able to Do Better than Men
· Pro sports coach
· Plastic surgeon
· Police officer
· Construction worker
Clearly there are some roles such as mechanic, construction worker and firefighter that men seem more adept or at least more interested in doing while on the flip side more women are adept/interested in being teachers and caregivers. The physical design of men and women allows our genders to be better suited for some roles over others. Furthermore our upbringing often persuades men and women to pursue careers that might seem more masculine or feminine such as a male journalist covering business/finance while a female journalist might cover lifestyle/fashion.
The real question isn’t whether men and women are paid equally for doing the same job but whether women, by way of occupational segregation, find themselves in jobs that typically pay less? Even more troubling is a study out of Cornell University that found the pay for a particular occupation decreases as women take a more dominant role in it, suggesting that women’s efforts are not valued as highly as men’s. Once women take over, the occupation’s pay is seemingly downgraded.
In the end, no organization with half a brain is overtly paying a woman significantly less for doing the same work as a man. That is just asking for the type of scrutiny under which Google presently sweats. Organizations are simply sorting men into blue job baskets and women into pink job baskets and declaring all the work done by the blue basket workers to be more valuable and as such deserving of more pay. That is until women take it over.
The world celebrated International Women’s Day on March 8th. In addition to celebrating all the various achievements of women, this day serves to raise awareness regarding the lack of gender equality. The day is intended to celebrate the need for equality and yet ironically the day itself perhaps does not receive the equal treatment it deserves. I must admit I had never heard of Women’s Day until after the day had passed. The first Women’s Day occurred in 1911 in Austria and since then it has popped up here and there around the world as spikes of renewed interest in advancing gender parity took the form of rallies and women’s marches.
How far have women come in recent years to achieving workplace equality, particularly in the US? Is a push still warranted? Grant Thornton, a global tax, auditing and advisory firm has been tracking the progress women have made into senior leadership roles since 2004. Globally, in 2004, women held 19% of the senior executive leadership roles while in the US, for that same year, women represented 20% of those roles. In 2017 women’s global representation has gained ground and stands at 25% while the pace in the US has slowed a bit and now stands slightly below the global average at 23%. Despite the increase, gains have been very modest in the last thirteen years. Perhaps more startling is that in 2012, 30% of companies in the U.S. had no female senior leaders while in 2017 that number has not decreased but increased slightly to thirty-one percent. Advances are slow or even non-existent in areas. Furthermore, women have not broken through in many other areas of business and government.
Following are 15 jobs women have yet to hold in the U.S.:
· President of the US
· Vice President of the US
· Head coach of a major big 4 sports team
· Chief Justice of the Supreme Court
· FBI or CIA director
· Senate Majority Leader
· Member of the Joint Chiefs
· Secretary of Defense, Treasury and Veterans affairs
· Governor in 23 US states
· CEO of a top 5 Fortune 500 company
· Secretary General of the UN
Presently women on average earn only 80 cents for every dollar that men earn, however women do out-earn men in some professions. The top five are:
· Physician advisor
· Purchasing specialist
· Research assistant
· Social worker
These are however not the occupations in which women earn the most. The top 5 and their median pay are as follows:
· Corporate counsel – $115,000
· Pharmacist – $119,000
· VP of Marketing – $123,000
· General pediatrician – $152,000
· General practice physician – $173,000
Women are obviously successful and though one hasn’t piloted a top five Fortune 500 Company, Mary Barra currently helms #8 GM. Yet the gains women have made are barely measurable from year to year. A woman’s desire to manage both work and family is a frequently offered explanation. Catherine Hill, The American Association of University Women remarks, “Yes, the choices we make are a big part of it, but it’s also the choices people assume we’re going to make.” Meaning that yes, many women’s careers suffer when they take time off to care for children or family members but those who have no such aspirations are still penalized.
Mark your calendars for next March. Women’s day will be coming back around and we all have the opportunity to celebrate women’s gains or lack thereof with a blog post or at the very least, a shout out on Twitter.
A recent study of 15,000 leaders from 300+ organizations across eighteen countries by Development Dimensions International revealed that the conversational skill that has the highest impact on overall performance was empathy. Empathy however is in decline according to Richard Wellins, one of the authors of DDI’s report. He pointed to a University of Michigan study of college students which showed a 34-48% decline in empathy over an eight year period.
One reason proposed for this decline is our mobile world. People are increasingly engaging with people in such brief moments of time that the empathic skill is seldom practiced. In her book, “Unselfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All-About-Me World”, child psychologist, Michele Borba concurs. She suggests that as a result of technology, “Self-promotion, personal branding, and self-interest at the exclusion of others’ feelings, needs and concerns is permeating our culture and slowly eroding our children’s character.”
The DDI report also points out that managers spend more time managing than interacting thus limiting their ability to maintain and hone their empathic skills. According to their study, only 40% of frontline leaders tested either proficient or strong on empathy.
Why is empathy such a valued trait? For starters customers want to be heard and empathizing with your customers’ needs will help sellers determine what they want. Additionally empathy helps businesses understand cultural differences when operating in diverse global markets. In many companies collaboration is essential for success and empathy helps to not only foster relationships but also influences our power of persuasion.
The importance of empathy is further confirmed in a study out of USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. A three year study of business leaders in the U.S. and other countries identified five attributes that executives must have to succeed in today’s global economy. Of the five, adaptability, cultural competence, 360-degree thinking, intellectual curiosity and empathy, empathy rated highest.
DDI’s study showed that in terms of relation to job performance, empathy had the greatest impact on engaging with employees, coaching them and their overall performance. Ray Krznaric, the author of Empathy: Why It Matters and How to Get It explains, “Empathy in the modern workplace is not just about being able to see things from another perspective. It’s the cornerstone of teamwork, good innovative design, and smart leadership. It’s about helping others feel heard and understood.”
So if you are reading this post right now on your phone and ignoring the person speaking with you, set it down, look into the eyes of your friend/colleague and show them they matter!
The labor force participation rate for women grew greatly between 1975 and 2000 to a point where 59.9% of women 16 and older were participating. During the ten years that followed, the rate fell by 1.3% to 58.6% in 2010. Not a substantial drop but in the five years that followed, the rate had dropped an additional 1.9% to 56.7% in 2015. Why are U.S. women leaving the workforce?
One obvious reason participation rates are declining is the increasing amount of baby boomers leaving the workforce. Their departure however does not explain the whole decline. Many women are leaving due to an inability to balance their work life with their home life. A 2014 poll of nonworking adults showed that 61% of women aged 25 to 54 were not working due to family responsibilities while only 37% of men provided the same answer. For many women in the U.S., 12 weeks of maternity leave is not long enough and the rising costs of child care increase the attractiveness of quitting work life and transitioning to home life.
While numbers continue to decline in the U.S., they continue to increase in most European countries including Japan and Canada. One reason is that family policies in the U.S. are not as friendly as in some European countries. Yes, twelve weeks of maternity leave may sound lengthy but England, for example, provides maternity leave for up to one year and in many cases it is fully paid. They also offer protection for part-time workers. According to a study by Francine Blau and Lawrence Kuhn of Cornell, if the United States had the same policies in place for mothers provided by European countries, the labor force participation rate would have been seven percentage points higher by 2010. Though the European policies have their pros they have their cons as well. These policies which support working mothers also burden their economies. Between 20 to 40 percent of jobs in the Eurozone held by women are part time and a study by Blau and Kuhn found that women in Europe were half as likely as men to be managers while in the U.S. men and women were equally likely.
Many women who wish to return to the workforce are willing provided that their family life is not too disrupted in the form of relocation, long commutes or working irregular hours. This applies only to women with families. Women without children, like men, are more inclined to accept these inconveniences.
Many women are taking time off of work to raise their children but seek to return to the workforce once their children enter school. Their primary concern is of course how hirable they are after spending significant time away from the workforce. A woman with multiple children could conceivably be a non-working parent for seven years or more. Studies have shown that biases are indeed exercised towards individuals who have been unemployed for lengthy periods of time. So in this instance moms may be ultimately punished for having a family.
And yet one poll found that non-working women are not nearly as desperate to return to work as non-working men. In many instances, their lives improve in key categories whereas a man’s lifestyle tends to suffer during periods of unemployment.
Women want to succeed and be viewed as equals to men in the workplace and yet for mothers the best way to achieve this equality is to perhaps not pursue the path of motherhood at all. They have a choice; a career or being the world’s greatest mom, and the statistics above might suggest praise from their child is more valuable than praise from their boss.
Each year as many as 360,000 military men and women join the civilian workforce. Programs such as the Veteran Jobs Mission and the White House Joining Forces have helped reduce high unemployment numbers for veterans in recent years, however former military personnel still face several challenges when trying to find civilian work.
A stigma of mental illness surrounds many veterans today with the public grossly overestimating the number of those affected by issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder. Additionally, employers struggle with how to incorporate military skills into civilian jobs. Lastly, the military environment is culturally different than the civilian environment. Job candidates are encouraged on their resumes and in interviews to focus on individual achievements, however the military mentality focuses on teamwork and group achievements. Veterans, according to Melissa Stirling, director of military, campus and youth programs at Hilton Worldwide, are very humble and “not good at singing their own praises.”
Veterans offer numerous benefits! Below are but a few:
· They have many of the necessary skills required to fill talent shortages.
· They possess a strong work ethic.
· They have problem solving skills.
· They are disciplined.
· They are safety conscious.
· They are detail oriented.
· They are team players.
The U.S. Department of Labor provides a veterans hiring tool kit with tips on how to hire and retain veterans.
· Create a veterans hiring program and clearly outline your strategy and goals.
· Create a workplace accommodating to veterans by better understanding their culture and experience.
· Actively reach out to veterans and military spouses.
· Partner with groups that can help you locate capable veterans.
· Understand what you are permitted and not permitted to ask during an interview.
· Develop a mentorship program with a veteran as the mentor.
· Show appreciation for veterans’ service on Veterans Day and Memorial Day.
· Explain their training and the organizational chart.
According to a survey by Futurestep, eighty percent of organizations lack veterans recruiting programs despite the overall success in employing them. Organizations complaining that college graduates aren’t taught the necessary skills to compete in the workforce are neglecting a gold mine filled with candidates possessing ample and applicable skills. Following the tips above will help better acquaint employers with the challenges a very skilled segment of the workforce face, but also how to incorporate them into their organizations and take advantage of their skills.
Earlier this year I wrote about the coming robot storm and the studies that suggest many jobs now held by humans will soon be executed by robots. Yesterday the Guardian published an article by Stephen Hawking who was commenting on, among other things, growing income inequality. He remarked, “The automation of factories has already decimated jobs in traditional manufacturing, and the rise of artificial intelligence is likely to extend this job destruction deep into the middle classes, with only the most caring, creative or supervisory roles remaining.”
What exactly is AI and how does it differ from basic automation such as a robot working an assembly line? AI stands for Artificial Intelligence and though those words may inspire grandiose images of androids such as Star Trek’s Data, the applications for it are far less advanced but also more widespread. Automation is hardware or software that is programmed to automatically complete a task based on external stimuli. For example, a sprinkler system that automatically operates when smoke is detected or car headlights that turn on automatically. AI however not only responds to the stimuli but learns from it to make better decisions for you in the future.
Here are a few examples of AI you perhaps have not noticed.
Autonomous cars – These are perhaps the most recognizable uses of artificial intelligence today. Soon not only will our cars drive themselves by adapting to the environment around them but so too will our cabs, busses and commercial trucks.
Netflix, Hulu, Spotify – These sites don’t just allow you to watch movies or listen to music, their software algorithms makes suggestions based on your past viewing/listening choices. Think of automation as a record player changing the record, but AI will play the songs you most likely want to hear.
Fraud detection software – These programs understand your buying habits and can alert you of irregular purchases.
News writing – News outlets such as the AP use AI to write very basic news stories such as sports recaps or financial summaries.
The examples demonstrate a few ways that AI can improve our lives but also a few ways it can steal jobs, some of which may be taken sooner than later. Autonomous trucks for example may save the trucking industry millions but it will also put drivers out of jobs. The same is true for cab drivers. These aren’t the only jobs in imminent danger. According to a study on AI by McKinsey Global Institute, 64% of data collecting jobs and 69% of data processing jobs are ready for automation takeover.
The good news for most industries is that wide adoption of these changes might still be decades away but they are certainly coming. According to McKinsey’s Michael Chui, “There’s time for us to adapt. We might start to think about, can AI save the economy by increasing productivity?”
The belief has always been that new technologies create jobs, but it doesn’t create new jobs for those whose jobs have been stolen. The individual who loses his job driving a truck can’t immediately be shifted to a job writing software for that truck. That opportunity is made available to a programmer in a different industry. So yes, perhaps AI can increase productivity and give people more free time or it will take jobs from thousands and give those people a whole lot of free time!
Millennials, those born between 1980 and 1996, make up a majority of the workforce and by 2020 will comprise nearly half of all workers. Millennials, as with previous generations before them, have been labeled as job hoppers. Perhaps job hopping is a symptom of youth or perhaps millennials truly are different from previous generations. Either way, understanding the job issues millennials must contend with and their motivations will help you better retain them as employees.
According to Gallup, these are the five most important issues millennials consider when applying for a new job:
· Opportunities to learn and grow
· Quality of manager
· Quality of management
· Interest in type of work
· Opportunities for advancement
Below are a few statistics that paint a better picture of the millennial workforce climate.
· Sixty-three percent of millennials have a bachelors degree.
· Forty-eight percent of them work in jobs that don’t require a four year degree.
· 6 in 10 millennials are open to different job opportunities.
· 21% of millennials have switched jobs in the last year – 3x higher than non-millennials
· Non-engaged millennials are 26% more likely than engaged millennials to take a different job for a raise of 20% or less.
· Of the millennials that changed roles last year, 93% did so by changing companies.
· 59% of millennials say opportunities to learn and grow are extremely important to them when applying for a job.
· 48% say that overall compensation is extremely important to them when seeking new opportunities.
· In their current jobs, 87% rate professional or career growth as important to them.
· Less than 50% of millennials strongly agree that they’ve had opportunities to learn and grow in the last year.
· 77% of millennials say that flexible work hours are essential to boosting their generation’s productivity.
· Fifty percent do not believe Social Security will be available when they reach retirement.
· Fifty-six percent would not work at a company that banned social media access.
· Sixty-nine percent believe office attendance is not necessary on a regular basis.
· 89% of smart phone owning millennials regularly check email outside of 9-5.
We now have a better view of the picture plaguing employers. Millennials want more growth opportunities. Millennials are working in jobs that don’t require a degree. Millennials desire more work/life balance. Millennials value social media and half feel they need to earn money now because no social security will be waiting for them when they retire.
Employers must do a better job of retaining their millennial workers by offering growth opportunities and benefits such as flexible hours that are more in tune with millennial desires. They must also continue using social media and technologies such as video interviewing to reach younger workers routinely accessing the web and their social media presences over their phones.
As mentioned, 46% of the workforce will be made up of millennials in four years and if 60% of them are open to new opportunities, you have a significant chunk of the U.S. workers who could be jumping ship. This benefits nobody in the long run. So if you are looking for a New Year’s resolution it should be to retain, retain, retain.