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.
A Startling Statistic About the Health of Unemployed Youth in the U.S.“Thriving” well-being is defined by Gallup and Healthways as possessing consistently good health and enough energy to get things done during the day. According to the Gallup-Healthways Global Well-Being Index, unemployed youth aged 15 to 29 enjoy slightly greater physical well-being compared with employed adults aged 50 and older. In 47 high income countries, young and older adults were basically tied in terms of increased well-being, but with the unemployed youth slightly edging out their older, employed counterparts, twenty-six (26%) to twenty-four percent (24%).
That young adults have more energy than older adults is not too surprising, however, unemployed youth in the U.S. have worse physical well-being than older employed workers. Only 23% of youth were thriving compared to 31% of older workers. In summary, those without jobs in the U.S. between the ages of 15-29 are in poorer health than those who are 50 + and have jobs and this stands in contrast to the rest of the world. Even more surprising is that only 14% of unemployed youth with college educations have thriving well-being while those with just a secondary education or primary education have double that at 27% and 28% respectively. Why is the U.S. an anomaly? Why is America’s unemployed youth less healthy than the rest of the world?
One suggestion for why unemployment affects Americans more is the stigma of being unemployed and this stigma could be more profound the higher the education levels attained. Spain, for example, has an unemployment rate among its youth near 40% while in the U.S. in July, the rate was only eleven percent. One might deduce that a higher unemployment rate would contribute to poorer health but the physical well-being of Spanish youth is higher than that of youth in the States. The hypothesis is that because so many Spanish youth are unemployed at the same time, they feel less stigmatized. They are able to share the burden of unemployment together.
A second theory is a lack of family support. A far greater number of unemployed youth living in lower and middle income economies worldwide, live with others, especially family, compared with many American youths who live alone. Physical well-being is often tied to emotional well-being and so an absence or the minimal provision of emotional support often provided by family, could adversely affect the health of American youth.
These statistics highlight a troublesome trend among America’s unemployed youth which should be monitored to ensure troublesome healthcare issues don’t arise especially among those with advanced education.
Beyond monitoring these healthcare issues we need to take a closer look at the source of the problem. Do Americans place a greater burden to succeed on themselves as compared with inhabitants of other nations? Those with higher educations, for example, have greater expectations placed on them to accomplish their goals and when they fall short, they appear to fall harder than most. What, if anything, can be done to provide greater support and well-being for those in their early stages of life so that they don’t end up on mom and dad’s couch?
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.
What, if anything, could a hiring manager say negatively about a job candidate that was exceptionally achieving? How about a candidate exhibiting high levels of conscientiousness or sociability? Surely no objections could be made about a cooperative or accommodating candidate!
In their quest to find culturally fitting job candidates, recruiters and hiring managers often yield to the results of behavioral assessments which paint either a positive or negative picture about the candidates’ potentials. Of course specific traits are more favorable for certain roles than others. For example, a quiet, unsociable candidate may not be suited for a sales or customer service role but may be perfectly suited for a role such a programming. Some traits, however, are considered so universally positive that hiring managers may ignore the negative aspects of such traits that could manifest in their candidates after they are hired.
Achieving, for example, is a personality trait that suggests few drawbacks. High achievers are often sought after for being dedicated, ambitious, and dynamic. Yet, have you considered that an exceptionally achieving worker may also be unscrupulous, self-seeking and ruthless in their pursuit of their personal goals? A candidate who already likes to bend the rules and also exhibits the dark aspects of achieving could potentially be an organizational problem.
Candidates who are sociable/outgoing with warm, friendly demeanors may not often be turned away in favor of quiet, less sociable candidates, but every trait has a dark side. These candidates may be excessively talkative, boisterous, or even uninhibited to the point that they are disruptive and tactless.
Here are a few more outwardly positive personality characteristics and their dark alter egos.
· Confident – Arrogant, smug, patronizing
· Bold – Reckless, unprepared, brash
· Assertive – Overbearing, blunt, dominating, forceful. Combine this with confidence and boldness and you are liable to hire a Wolf of Wall Street type.
· Accommodating – Submissive, passive, pushover
· Tenacious – Obstinate, inflexible,
· Disciplined – Fussy, obsessive, dictatorial
· Decisive – Opinionated, impetuous, trigger happy
As shown above with assertive, many of these negative characteristics, when coupled with corresponding traits, may be amplified. A person with a high level of confidence and moderate levels of assertiveness and or boldness may not be an issue, however high levels of each may produce a toxic performer. My earlier post on this subject showed that parting ways with toxic employees, even if ranked in the top 1% for productivity, saved a company more in expense than what the company earned from the superstar’s production.
So, when you are looking to hire your next Jedi, be careful whether you are hiring an individual who wants to destroy the Death Star or who wants to build a Death Star. You may end up with a bold, confident Vader over a bold, confident Luke!
In business most professionals understand that employee turnover is bad while employee retention is good. Perhaps because in the corporate world success is measured in dollars gained vs. dollars lost and most know that employee turnover is a big expense. The cost of replacing entry level employees is 30-50 percent of their annual salary while mid-level employees may cost a company as much as 150 percent of their salary to replace.
Retaining employees for as long as you are able to avoid turnover costs is rational, however turnover can also be beneficial. Years ago my colleague was speaking about turnover with a gentleman who ran a call center. This manager found that turnover, after a period of time had elapsed, was beneficial because he could hire entry level call center agents at a pay rate lower than what the exiting agents had been earning. Periodic turnover allowed the call center manager to reduce costs.
One issue often associated with employee turnover is a decrease in company morale as remaining employees have to shoulder the responsibilities the departing employee left behind until the role is filled. Low employee morale of course can also be created by retaining a disruptive employee who poisons your culture and office atmosphere. The departure of such an employee could produce positive results within days. In a previous post I pointed to a study which revealed that avoiding a toxic worker, even one in the top 1% for productivity, saves a company far more than the cost savings they would receive from employing the superstar.
Turnover also provides the opportunity to inject more energy into your business. Long retained workers may lose passion for what they do. While they leave to seek greater challenges elsewhere with a renewed vigor, your company may provide a similar challenging opportunity to an incoming employee. Though you may have to train them, their energy level and spirit for the new challenges that lie ahead may spark morale and spirit in the workplace.
Turnover, especially in senior positions, may eliminate the tendency for mirror image hiring. Mirror image hiring is a hiring manager’s propensity to hire those with similar backgrounds or behavioral characteristics. According to I/O psychologist Allen Gorman, “The ‘similar-to-me’ bias could also lead to creativity stagnation and lack of innovation in organizations. This happens because as organizations continue to hire employees that have the same backgrounds and experiences as those already in the organization, employees begin to think and behave in the same fashion due to their shared experiences.”
Turnover is uncomfortable not just in terms of revenue lost and the expenses associated with finding/training a new employee but also the concern of how a new employee will fit into one’s corporate culture. Change however brings new life and enthusiasm and so turnover should be viewed as an opportunity to not only improve your company but potentially reduce expenses in the long run.
The U.S. is one of the richest countries in the world per capita, ranking 5th out of 133, yet according to the 2016 Social Progress Index, America ranks only 19th in terms of converting that economic success into improvements for its citizens.
This is similar to a professional sports team possessing a great win/loss record, highly paid executives and great attendance but having disgruntled fans and players. Why are the players and the fans so upset? To better understand this we must fully understand what exactly the Social Progress Index measures.
The Social Progress Index measures progress based on these three categories.
Basic Human Needs:
- Nutrition and basic medical care
- Water and sanitation
- Personal safety
Foundations of Wellbeing:
- Access to basic knowledge
- Access to information and communication
- Health and wellness
- Environmental quality
- Personal rights
- Personal freedom and choice
- Tolerance and inclusion
- Access to advanced education
As far as providing access to advanced education and shelter the U.S. is performing exceptionally well. Unfortunately, it performs poorly in several other categories such as health and wellness, access to basic knowledge, personal safety and nutrition & basic medical care. Additionally, wage growth, a measurement not calculated by the Social Progress Index, has been stagnant. Research by Indeed showed that only fifteen percent of workers were in jobs that see consistent wage growth keeping pace with inflation. Of these jobs, 50% were located in just nine states. Furthermore, training that would allow these growth jobs to be filled by U.S. workers is not readily available. Even worse, the situation isn’t improving. Last year the U.S. ranked 16th in Social Progress, slipping three spots to now sit just ahead of Slovenia.
Here we see that, despite companies getting richer and the economy strengthening, many of the opportunities and benefits Americans expect to enjoy as a result are not trickling down to them. The team is making plenty of money but the fans are overweight, out of breath, are getting mugged in the parking lot, can’t access WiFi on their phones and the players have seen little wage growth despite their exceptional win/loss record.
Honestly, aside from stagnant wage growth and the obesity epidemic, I didn’t feel we Americans were doing so poorly. Now it seems I and everyone else should be up in arms! Especially when considering that countries such as Costa Rica and Nepal over perform on Social Progress despite their low GDPs.
So what can we do about it? Just getting angry and acting out won’t get us anywhere. The first step is to identify our problems and then explore the solutions that are working elsewhere to see which ones might apply here in the USA. Only with focus and positive action can America begin to turn things around and address the issues so incensing us today.
Calling Interview4 video interviewing “a life changer”, a large retailer finds the service not only reduces turnover, but also saves time and money by allowing the screening of more candidates in the same amount of time that used to be devoted to phone screening. Eliminating the agony of the phone interview has resulted in happier teams and a better corporate culture.
The quality of job candidates brought in for live interviews increased markedly. Each candidate who took a video interview could be evaluated easily in just ten to twelve minutes, putting more time into each recruiter’s day.
Before Interview4, picking candidates to be advanced in the hiring process was hotly contested because only one person actually spoke to each candidate via phone. Everyone else just saw the written summaries of the calls.
Now, the recorded video interviews can easily be shared with team leaders, program managers, and other decision makers. They can review, grade and comment on each candidate.Virtual video interviews are also convenient to schedule for both the employer and the candidates.
Finally, the Interview4 team got high marks for their customer focus and willingness to cater to customers’ needs.
In my colleague’s March blog post, “Productivity is on life support: Blame the Millennials and the Baby Boomers,” he pointed out that the annual growth rate of productivity from year to year between 2007 and 2015 was 60% lower than the year to year growth rate between 1947 and 1973. He contended that both the older, less productive baby boomers and the easily distracted millennials were to blame for the decrease in growth rate. Indeed many articles have been written about the Millennial “Me, Me, Me” generation.
Recently the Texas department of labor established an overtime rule that allows overtime pay for more salaried workers. The biggest complaint from business leaders on this ruling is that younger employees, millennials, don’t deserve to be paid overtime for the work they should have accomplished during their regular hours. As one complainant to the department of labor suggested, “The younger workers are often off task, engaged on social media, on the internet, texting on phones and other unproductive activities.”
Here we have further suggestions that Millennials are basically…well…. lazy. Below is an alleged quote from a prominent intellectual on the state of our youth which many would agree succinctly describes today’s young workers.
“The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table….and tyrannize their teachers.”
Sounds exactly like today’s youth but the quote above is allegedly from a disgruntled Socrates sometime prior to his death in 399 B.C nearly 2,500 years ago. I’m not convinced Socrates did indeed say this but regardless, the quote is old and suggests that Millennials aren’t the first generation to patent laziness and disrespect.
Bruce Pfau, the head of human resources for KPMG, spent years studying the differences between the wants and needs at work of Millennials and employees in other generations. He concluded that Millennials weren’t necessarily lazy or narcissistic but rather those are traits exhibited by young people which are corrected as the individual grows older.
Going back through history we see clearly that Millennials aren’t the first generation to be criticized by the media for their self-absorbed attitude. A 1907 article in the Atlantic Monthly on why marriages are failing declared that the “…cult of individualism…” was to blame. In the 70s, acclaimed author Tom Wolf wrote an article for New York magazine called, “The ME Decade. Reports on America’s New Great Awakening.” In it he said, “…The new alchemical dream is: changing one’s personality-remaking, remodeling, elevating and polishing one’s very self…and observing, studying and doting on it. (Me!)…” The Gen-Xers took a hit from Time magazine in 1990 when they dedicated their cover story to the generation who has “trouble making decisions” and whose attention span is as short as “one zap of a TV dial.”
Truly, younger people on average are more narcissistic, however the younger workers of the ‘oos aren’t necessarily more selfish than were 90s workers, and 90’s workers aren’t more self-absorbed than those in the 70’s and 80s. Sure, the distractions from decade to decade may be different. The generation once entranced by MTV now may look down its nose at the Facebook generation and in ten years the Facebook generation may haughtily judge generation Z for its addiction to virtual reality. Regardless however of what actually distracts them, the young people of every generation had a distraction over which the upper generations judged them for being lazy and self-absorbed.
So relax America. Our Millennials will grow out of it. In fact one day they will be writing articles about how bratty and entitled the young workers at their companies are behaving.
Internapalooza, an event I had not heard of until recently, is as its name suggests, a gathering of interns. More specifically the event hosts interns interested in working for Silicon Valley companies and from what I can tell, this July 11th, Internapalooza’s fifth annual event will take over AT&T Park in San Francisco with over 8,000 interns registered to attend. The event offers interns the chance to mingle with their peers, speak with executives from dozens of top tech companies such as Google, Facebook, Paypal, Dropbox, and Microsoft and even play games. According to the schedule the free event begins at 6:00 and ends at 10:00 but that is when the Intern After Party begins and continues until 1:00 am.
A viral story about the After Party is how I first heard of Internapalooza. (I’m a forty-something who lives on the East Coast so cut me some slack.) A Microsoft recruiter sent the following email to an intern which the intern’s roommate posted online.
“HEY BAE INTERN! <3
Hi! I am Kim, a Microsoft University Recruiter. My crew is coming down from our HQ in Seattle to hang with you and the crowd of the bay area interns at Internapalooza on 7/11.
BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY, we’re throwing an exclusive after party the night of the event at our San Francisco office and you’re invited! There will be hella noms, lots of dranks, the best beats and just like last year, we’re breaking out the Yammer beer pong tables!
HELL YES TO GETTING LIT ON A MONDAY NIGHT.”
Okay so several things are wrong with this letter that Microsoft confirmed originated from them. One is the cringe worthy use of slang in an attempt to sound hip! “Hey Bae”? “Hella noms”? “Lots of dranks”? Not only is the jargon embarrassing but evidently it is also misused. “Dranks” which I’m assuming is meant to refer to drinks, is actually slang for codeine cough syrup that some young people ingest to get buzzed. I’m pretty sure Microsoft won’t be passing around Robitussin at their party. Perhaps the worst thing about this letter is the ending reference to getting “Lit” on a Monday night. While looking cool may enable Microsoft to appear more attractive to millennials or the upcoming Generation Z, getting drunk is hardly the vibe they should be promoting. The letter is embarrassingly funny but not catastrophic to Microsoft’s image.
Actually the email does not stray far from the laid back vibe presented for the whole event. Following is some verbiage from Internapalooza’s website, “Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The trouble makers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules and they have no respect for the status-quo.” As I reflect on Microsoft’s email and the statement on Internapalooza’s website, I wonder if the wrong message is being sent to millennials in an attempt to recruit them?
For years news articles and blogs have been written about how to manage (deal with) Millennials in the work place. Millennials have been stereotyped as “entitled, lazy, narcissistic and addicted to social media.” And yet events such as Internapalooza supposedly aren’t looking for the conformist millennial but rather the “crazy misfit” who breaks the rules. Do we want millennials who will show up for work on time, focused and ready to do their jobs, or do we want to stay up late downing brews with them on a Monday night?
Do you think a responsible manager will ever exclaim over a raucous game of late night beer pong with his subordinates, “HELL YES TO SHOWING UP LATE FOR WORK ON A TUESDAY MORNING!”? The answer is “no” and that’s your answer to the type of Millennial we really want.