As the advent of the gig economy has highlighted the precarious nature of many non-salaried workers’ incomes, predictable scheduling has practically eclipsed the minimum wage as the labor rights cause of the day, both in the US and in other countries. In the past year, we’ve seen cities like Seattle and New York pass “secure scheduling” laws mandating guaranteed hours for certain classes of hourly employees, and Oregon is on its way to becoming the first state with such legislation.
That many Americans work unpredictable hours from week to week is not in dispute, but opponents of these mandates argue that they impose unreasonable burdens on employers in industries like retail and food service where turnover is high and demand is naturally unpredictable. There is also some debate over just how big a problem variable scheduling is. A recent Gallup survey, for example, finds that among the one in six US employees who are paid hourly and say their hours vary each week, 67 percent say their variable schedules are not causing them financial hardship:
These results are based on interviews conducted Aug. 23-Sept. 4 with 528 hourly workers who say the number of hours they work each week varies. Thirty-seven percent of all hourly workers — equivalent to 18% of all U.S. workers — say the number of hours they work varies from week to week, while the rest say their hours are fixed.
McDonald’s and Ben & Jerry’s may not have a lot in common in their corporate philosophies, but both companies have recently begun offering their low-skilled employees significant educational opportunities that will help them wherever their career paths may take them.
Eighty percent of employees at Ben & Jerry’s ice cream shops are in their first-ever job. The Vermont-based company is now offering them skills training through an online program called Core Academy, where employees can take one of four courses: Beyond the Job parts 1 and 2, Activism Academy, and Social Equity & Inclusion. These topics jibe with the company’s stated commitment to social responsibility.
“We started thinking about what are our responsibilities to this entry-level workforce,” Collette Hittinger, the ice cream company’s global operations and training manager, told SHRM’s Kathy Gurchiek earlier this month, “and we decided we had plenty of programs about how to run an ice cream store,” but nothing to develop skills that would enhance workplace and customer interactions, such as emotional intelligence. The training opportunity also prepares their workforce, 75 percent of which is aged 18-24, for leadership down the road.
Ben & Jerry’s developed the program in partnership with the local Champlain College and California-based Story of Stuff Project. The coursework draws from Champlain’s MBA programs for its content and project-based structure. Participation in Core Academy is voluntary, but the program has been very well-attended and received. It also allows Ben & Jerry’s to stand out in attracting workers for their minimum-wage service industry jobs.
McDonald’s is offering a more traditional education credential, as participants in its “Archways to Opportunity” program can earn a high school diploma through the fast food titan’s partnership with Cengage Learning. Since the 18-month program launched in 2015, roughly 100 employees have completed it and over 800 are currently enrolled. Amanda Eisenberg at Employee Benefit News has the details on the program, which is designed for adult learners:
McDonald’s announced this week that the company and its franchises would hire about 250,000 employees across the US this summer, which is usually the busiest season for the fast food restaurant chain, the Chicago Tribune reports. This year, however, the chain is introducing a new twist on the hiring process and will be accepting short video applications through the social media platform Snapchat:
The chain started accepting “Snaplications” in Australia last month, allowing potential employees to make video submissions with a special filter that shows them wearing a McDonald’s uniform. The video audition can then be submitted to McDonald’s Snapchat account. After that, McDonald’s will send back a link to the application and digital careers page. …
McDonald’s said allowing applications through Snapchat will aid hiring efforts because many of its applicants are between the ages of 16 and 24. It will direct marketing about the application process to select Snapchat users nationwide starting Tuesday. The company also is using other platforms like Spotify and Hulu to reach potential job seekers.
Using Snapchat to target a younger pool of candidates makes sense, as the platform’s user base is overwhelmingly in McDonald’s target age range. According to Hootsuite, 37 percent of Snapchat users are 18 to 24 years old, 60 percent of its users are under 25, and 23 percent have not graduated high school.
In a session at last week’s WorldatWork Total Rewards Conference and Exposition, Taco Bell Vice President of People and Experience Bjord Erland discussed how the fast food chain has handled turnover—a major challenge in its sector—in recent years. At HRE Daily, David Shadovitz passes along some insights from Erland’s talk:
Leadership was hearing that pay was a major reason people were leaving. But in order to come up with the right game plan, HR knew it needed more data. So it brought in global consultancy Mercer to better understand the key drivers behind the high turnover and identify ways to address it. When it looked at why workers stuck around, Taco Bell, a unit of Yum! Brands, found that a flexible work environment and strong culture were major drivers. As to why people were leaving, factors such as a high level of stress, lack of training and better opportunities elsewhere emerged as a big contributors. …
Well, the big “Aha!” for Taco Bell was learning that earnings were far more important to workers than their rate of pay. Were they working enough hours, including overtime, to bring home a bigger paycheck? (Erland noted that Taco Bell’s pay was competitive with others in the industry.) In light of these findings, Erland said, the company began to increase its use of “slack hours” to increase the amount of employee take home pay. “Turnover improved when employees were able to bring home more earnings,” he said.
Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, whom the New York Times describes as “the Steve Jobs of coffee,” announced on Thursday that he would step down as chief executive next spring, handing the reins to Kevin Johnson, currently the company’s president and a member of its board, as well as a good friend of Schultz’s:
Mr. Schultz, one of the most visible chief executives in the country, has made Starbucks a vocal part of the national conversation on issues like gun violence, gay rights, race relations, veterans rights and student debt. The succession will take place on April 3, and he will remain at the company as executive chairman, focusing on the company’s involvement in social causes and on growing Starbucks Reserve, the company’s new superpremium brand and chain of high-end stores.
News of the departure of a successful CEO, especially a visionary like Schultz, can have a significant impact on a company’s market value—indeed, when Schultz left the company for the first time in 2000, shares of Starbucks declined precipitously. The stock price dipped after this announcement, too, but quickly began to rebound, and several analysts told Reuters on Friday that they weren’t too concerned about Schultz’s departure having too many ill effects this time around:
Quartz’s Michael J. Coren interviews Alexis Ringwald, CEO and co-founder of LearnUp, a job training startup that aims to solve a very common problem among organizations that hire large numbers of entry-level employees. After months of field research, Ringwald found that these employers (such as fast food restaurants and big-box retailers) have a hard time finding employees with the right skills and don’t have the resources to train them on the job. As a result, they “play a numbers game, hiring as many people as possible in expectations that most will leave,” and leave they do: 90-day turnover rates in these positions are astronomical. Enter LearnUp, which enables candidates to apply and train for these jobs at the same time:
Ringwald started LearnUp in 2012 to scale entry-level job training for the 13 million Americans working in retail, food and customer service and related sectors. Many of them have minimal experience navigating the application process, have never created a resume or LinkedIn profile. The startup adds a “I want this job” button to recruiting webpages and platforms.
Prospective employees can click on the button to open an interactive summary of the job and complete a 60-minute course outlining training and job requirements. A contact form or live chat option for applicants is in the upper corner. “Now [candidates] can take this training and be qualified,” says Ringwald.
Only about 10% of potential applicants click on LearnUp’s button, says the company, but they represent about 40% of new hires. Completing the course triples an applicant’s chances of getting hired, and employers’ average number of interviews per hire have dropped from 6.8 to just 2.3. Turnover rates have also fallen by 30%.
McDonald’s recently announced plans to relocate its corporate headquarters from the leafy suburb of Oak Brook, Illinois to the West Town neighborhood in the heart of Chicago. As the Chicago Tribune’s Samantha Bomkamp explains, the move is part of an effort by CEO Steve Easterbrook to revamp the fast-food giant’s business and modernize its image—in this case, by making it a more appealing place for young talent to work:
McDonald’s will move by spring 2018 to the former site of Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Studios at 1045 W. Randolph St., which was home to “The Oprah Winfrey Show” for 25 years. The move will bring McDonald’s corporate employees, which currently number about 2,000, from the suburban village to the hustle and bustle of a burgeoning part of the city that is home to some of Chicago’s most popular restaurants, like Girl and the Goat and Au Cheval.
In its bid to attract talent, McDonald’s will join a roster of heavy hitters that already have or plan to move from the suburbs to the city — marquee names like Motorola Solutions, Kraft Heinz, Gogo, Hillshire Brands, Beam Suntory and ConAgra. Rumors that McDonald’s was considering a move have been swirling for months.