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.
Three quarters of employed American adults plans to keep working either part-time or full-time after they reach retirement age, according to a new survey from Gallup:
Nearly two in three employed U.S. adults, 63%, say they plan to work past retirement age, but on a part-time basis. An additional 11% say they will work full time once they hit retirement age. A quarter of employed Americans say they will stop working altogether. …
Of those who say they will continue working, but only full time, the majority plan to do so because they want to, not because they have to. The proportion of “want to” versus “will have to” explanations has edged up slightly since 2013. The percentage who say they “want to” keep working part time has also risen, from 34% to 44%. There has been a decline in nonretirees’ intentions to continue working full time, from 9% “will have to” in 2013 to 5% today, while the percentage who “will have to” work part time has dropped from 26% to 18%.
Americans also have differing views on what constitutes “retirement age,” Gallup found. While the official retirement age—i.e., the age at which Americans can being collecting their full Social Security benefits—is 65, only about a quarter of respondents to the survey said they planned to retire at exactly that age, while 39 percent said they intended to retire after 65 and 29 percent said they expected to retire earlier.
In the increasingly polarized politics of the US, political tensions have been making their presence felt in the workplace since last year’s presidential campaign season, putting employers in the position of trying to defuse political conflicts that can hurt morale, team cohesion, and productivity. This challenge was not resolved after November’s election—indeed, it then became even more pressing for business leaders to navigate these troubled political waters carefully.
A newly released survey from the American Psychological Association shows that political discussions in the workplace are still having a negative effect on employees, with 26 percent saying they had experienced stress or tension due to such debates. Washington Post columnist Jena McGregor peruses the APA’s findings:
The survey of more than 1,300 employed adults in late February and early March also found that 21 percent said they have felt more cynical and negative at work because of all the political talk, compared with 15 percent in August. And some 40 percent of workers said the divisive, distracting environment has caused at least one negative outcome for them, whether in the form of reduced productivity, poorer work quality, difficulty getting work done, increased hostility in the workplace or having a more negative view of co-workers. In August, just 27 percent said they’d had such a negative outcome. …
Before the election, [David Ballard, the director of the APA’s Center for Organizational Effectiveness,] said, there was little difference in the way political talk on the job was affecting Republicans versus Democrats, and those who identify as liberals or conservatives. But in the more recent survey, there was a big divide when it came to political philosophy: Those who identify as liberals were more likely to feel stressed and tense at work because of political conversations (38 percent said they were) compared with those who identify as moderate or conservative (22 and 21 percent, respectively).
By comparison, a Gallup survey released last week found that employee engagement among Democrats had recovered from an apparent post-election slump—though this does not necessarily contradict the APA’s finding that liberal workers are experiencing increased stress and tension:
New survey data from Gallup shows a meaningful decline in the perception of gender equality since 2008, while the gap between men’s and women’s views remains wide:
Approximately half of U.S. adults believe women have equal job opportunities as men, although women themselves (43%) are significantly less likely than men (61%) to agree. The 52% of U.S. adults saying men and women have equal job opportunities is down slightly from 57% in 2008, mostly related to a decline in the percentage of men who hold this view. When Gallup first asked this question in 1987, 48% of U.S. adults believed women and men had equal job opportunities. The public grew more skeptical about gender equality in job opportunities, and by 1995, only 34% said they believed women and men had equal opportunities. That figure has increased steadily to a high of 57% in 2007 and 2008. …
A separate question from the poll shows six in 10 U.S. adults favor affirmative action programs for women, on par with the 59% who supported these programs in 2005, when Gallup last asked this question. Women (64%) are more likely than men (55%) to favor these programs, but the percentages of men and women favoring these programs are essentially unchanged from 2005. Members of underrepresented minority groups are more likely than whites to report favoring affirmative action for women. Eighty-one percent of blacks and 69% of Hispanics say they support these programs, compared with 55% of whites. The percentages of these minority groups reporting they favor these programs for women remain similar to those found in 2005.
As part of its ongoing research into employee engagement, Gallup conducted a survey to find out how employees evaluate the meaningfulness of recognition. Its findings “reveal that the most effective recognition is honest, authentic and individualized to how each employee wants to be recognized”:
Acknowledging employees’ best work can be a low-cost endeavor — it can be as small as a personal note or a thank-you card. But the key is to knowwhat makes it meaningful and memorable for the employee, and who is doing the recognizing. In a recent Gallup workplace survey, employees were asked to recall who gave them their most meaningful and memorable recognition. The data revealed the most memorable recognition comes most often from an employee’s manager (28%), followed by a high-level leader or CEO (24%), the manager’s manager (12%), a customer (10%) and peers (9%). Worth mentioning, 17% cited “other” as the source of their most memorable recognition.
What’s most surprising about these findings? Nearly one-quarter said the most memorable recognition comes from a high-level leader or CEO. Employees will remember personal feedback from the CEO — even a small amount of time a high-ranking leader takes to show appreciation can yield a positive impression on an employee. In fact, acknowledgment from a CEO could become a career highlight.
Our research at CEB has found that rewards and recognition must have meaning in order to influence employee behavior. It makes intuitive sense that praise from on high would have a more lasting impact than praise from a peer, but that type of recognition doesn’t scale easily: At a large organization, the CEO may not have time to personally recognize the contributions and achievements of hundreds or thousands of individual employees: As Paul White and Daniel White wrote at ATD’s Human Capital blog in March, in order for employees to experience recognition as authentic appreciation, it needs to be communicated frequently, on an individual basis, and in ways that are relevant to the employee. How do leaders deliver meaningful appreciation when it can’t always come from the C-suite?