The cafeteria is a staple of contemporary corporate office buildings, and providing free or low-cost meals to employees is a common perk, particularly in the tech sector. Of course, if employees are eating breakfast, lunch, and even dinner in the same building where they work, that means they’re not patronizing local shops and restaurants. With that in mind, local lawmakers in San Francisco are proposing an amendment to the city’s zoning code to curb the proliferation of office cafeterias and drive more traffic to downtown eateries, the San Francisco Chronicle reports:
In an attempt to attract employees to local restaurants and businesses, Supervisors Ahsha Safaí and Aaron Peskin are co-sponsoring an ordinance that would ban “employee cafeterias” from new office buildings in the city. This comes as local retailers, particularly those downtown, complain of a drop in business as more companies offer their workers meals in private corporate cafeterias, Safaí said. …
An “employee cafeteria” is defined in the San Francisco health code as a space inside an office where employees are provided or sold tax-free food on a regular basis. These facilities are either operated by company employees or contractors. There are currently 51 such cafeterias around the city, Safaí said. The supervisors’ proposal would put the city at odds with the tech industry, which largely views free food as an essential perk to lure talent. …
Last year, Indeed.com analyzed its job search data and found that a remarkably high proportion of technology workers in the San Francisco Bay Area were looking for jobs in other parts of the US. Marketwatch passes along some updated findings from Indeed showing that this trend hasn’t changed:
From October 2016 to January 2017, more than 38% of technology job seekers in the San Francisco and San Jose area have clicked on postings outside of the area, up from just 27% four years ago. That trend stands out especially among mid-career employees between 45 and 54 years of age: Half of the Silicon Valley technology job seekers in this age group have been looking for opportunities beyond the border.
And it’s not the only study to suggest tech workers are looking beyond San Francisco. The Federal Reserve’s most recent regional economic round-up on the San Francisco district said that talent shortages in the technology industry have both increased the time required to fill positions and the cost per hire.
Indeed attributes tech workers’ desire to get out of Silicon Valley primarily to the high cost of living there, noting that the median monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment is $3,000 in San Francisco and $2,500 in San Jose, or more than twice the national average of $1,200 a month. The Bay Area isn’t the only metropolitan area where high housing costs are making talent think twice about settling there—business leaders in Los Angeles, for example, recently identified housing costs as a barrier to attracting talent to the city—but it draws the most attention given Silicon Valley’s importance to the US economy today.
In fact, Elaine Ou argues at Bloomberg View, the sky-high rents in the Bay Area may be a bigger factor in the tech sector’s talent shortage than the skills gap. The industry, she writes, “doesn’t have a skills shortage so much as a shortage of employees who can afford to live within commuting distance of their jobs”:
Last night, the San Francisco board of supervisors unanimously passed the parental leave measure we noted yesterday, which will require that employers give mothers and fathers six weeks of time off at full pay when they have a child. The Associated Press reports that the measure will require another full board vote next week, as well as approval from San Francisco mayor Ed Lee, who has already indicated that he will sign it.
California already mandates that new parents receive 55 percent of their pay for up to six weeks, compensation which comes from a state insurance program funded by workers. San Francisco’s new measure will require private employers in the city with more than 20 employees to cover the remaining 45 percent for the full six weeks, though the new regulation will be phased in gradually starting in January 2017 with businesses that employ 50 or more employees.
Samantha Cooney at Mashable flags a new survey from the recruiting platform Woo, indicating that Silicon Valley tech workers are increasingly looking for stability and work-life balance rather than the high-risk, high-reward, work-centric startup lifestyle for which the valley is known:
Workers in the survey lowered their salary expectations by 12.6% from Q4 in 2015 to Q1 in 2016, effectively shedding almost $20,000 in how much they expect to take home. (The Woo study relies on self-reported results.) In that same time frame, the desire for work-life balance among workers increased by just over 8%, according to the survey.
A full 82.6% of tech workers now say they want to work for larger companies rather than startups — the Silicon Valley-equivalent of city dwellers packing up and moving to suburbia. Oh, and the study shows that more tech workers actually want to pack up and get out of Silicon Valley. The number of respondents who wanted to escape rose by 6.9% in the last quarter, to 29.1%. The findings all boil down to a desire for job security among workers concerned about the economy, Woo CEO Liran Kotzer tells Mashable.
Speaking of packing up and getting out of Silicon Valley, Alison Vekshin at Bloomberg takes a closer look at how the exorbitant cost of living in San Francisco is driving tech talent to look for work in more affordable cities:
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors is considering a law that would require employers in the city to grant new parents six weeks of leave at full pay, the Associated Press reports:
The state already allows workers to receive 55 percent of their pay for up to six weeks to bond with a new child. The money comes out of a state insurance program funded by workers. The proposal to be voted on Tuesday would require San Francisco employers with at least 20 employees to make up the rest.
Advocates say the legislation is needed because too many families can’t afford to take leave, but small business owners say the latest proposal is just another mandate in a long list of city mandates— including paid sick leave and health coverage— that unfairly targets independent owners. …
New parents who work for the city and county of San Francisco enjoy 12 weeks of paid leave while private employers such as Facebook and Microsoft are generous with leave as a way to retain workers. But Supervisor Scott Wiener, who is pushing the legislation, says not everyone works for the city or Facebook. He sees paid leave for full-time and part-time workers as another step toward addressing income inequality[.]
The proposed full pay requirement would be the first of its kind in the US, the AP notes. Even though more and more employers are expanding their parental leave offerings of their own accord as a means of attracting and retaining talent—especially women— mandates are taking hold in other parts of the country as well: New York State introduced mandatory family leave last week as part of a budget deal that also raises the minimum wage, and Washington, DC, is also considering it.