From Job Fit

Can We Not Discriminate Against Bad Habits?

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?

Workplace Incivility Is At An All Time High

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.

Are There “Men’s” Jobs and “Women’s Jobs”?

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

·         Dietician/Nutritionist

·         Information clerk and customer care professional

·         Gynecologist and obstetrician

·         Nurse and professional caregiver

·         Kindergarten and preschool teacher

·         Secretary

10 Jobs Women Will Never Be Able to Do Better than Men

·         PIlot

·         Comedian

·         Pro sports coach

·         Electrician

·         Chef

·         Plastic surgeon

·         Police officer

·         Firefighter

·         Mechanic

·         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.

Why Are Women Leaving the Workforce?

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.

The Benefits of Hiring Veterans!

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.

America’s Unemployed Youth Are Not Healthy. Here’s Why!

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: Statistics About Them You Need to Know For Retention

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 portrait-1469500_640hopping 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.

The Dark Side Of Positive Candidate Attributes

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 star-wars-1724901_640cooperative 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!

Employee Turnover: It’s Not Always As Bad As You Think

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 exit3 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.

Economy Great! Americans Angry! What Gives?

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. sad-842518_640

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
  • Shelter
  • Personal safety

Foundations of Wellbeing:

  • Access to basic knowledge
  • Access to information and communication
  • Health and wellness
  • Environmental quality

Opportunity:

  • 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.