In Focus: Employees and Responsive Workplaces
Feb 12, 2014 | PERMALINK »
Costas, Wonkblog are Right: Going to Work Sick is a Bad Idea
In today's Wonkblog piece, "Bob Costas is right: Going to work sick is a terrible idea," on the broadcaster's withdrawal from NBC's Olympics coverage, Sarah Kliff rightly points out that many U.S. workers go to work sick because they don’t have access to paid sick days, leading to high rates of costly “presenteeism.”
One of the most devastating aspects of this issue is that those who need paid sick days most—low-wage workers—are least likely to have access to them. Nearly 80 percent of the lowest-wage workers lack a single paid sick day. In fact, almost half of all workers making less than $514/week receive no paid leave of any kind (no personal leave, sick leave, family leave, or vacation). And the consequences for families’ economic security are severe: one in seven (14 percent) low-wage workers has lost a job in the past four years because they were sick or needed to care for a family member. For low-wage working moms, the number rises to almost one in five. Workers who can’t afford to lose wages or even jobs are forced to go to work sick, or send a sick child to school. To protect these workers, along with the public health and our economy, laws that guarantee employees the right to earn paid sick days are essential.
Around the country, advocates are successfully campaigning to pass such laws at the state and local level; hopefully, a federal standard will soon make it possible for all workers in the U.S. to have such protections.
Jan 22, 2014 | PERMALINK »
Survey Shows that Restaurants Can Reduce Costs Through Better Employment Practices
By Lauren French
The restaurant industry is an important part of our economy, employing over 10 million people and generating sales revenues of $660.5 billion in 2013 alone. But despite its success, the industry offers its employees notoriously low wages and limited access to benefits and advancement opportunities. A new study shows that these practices may be harmful not just to workers, but to businesses as well.
The study, which was written by Rosemary Batt and Jae Eun Lee of Cornell Universtiy and Tashlin Lakhani of Ohio State University, and released by Restaurant Opportunities Center United, includes the first national survey of work and human resource management in the U.S. restaurant industry. High Road 2.0: A National Study of Human Resources Practices, Turnover, and Customer Service in the Restaurant Industry examines the impact of negative employment practices on turnover and employment stability and shows how they can hurt restaurants’ bottom lines.
High levels of employee turnover and low rates of worker tenure are prevalent through all segments of the restaurant industry, especially moderately priced and fast food or “quick serve” establishments. The study finds that almost one in two fast food workers quits or is fired from his or her job each year. Turnover is expensive for a number of reasons: labor costs related to recruitment and training; loss of proficiency and productivity; lack of employee loyalty and commitment; and overall disruption of operations. Turnover costs range anywhere from $18,200 for an establishment with 30 employees to $1.82 million for a chain of 100 restaurants.
Fortunately, the industry’s turnover problem is not insurmountable. The study finds that implementing better workplace practices, such as increasing wages, can reduce turnover by almost 50 percent. Indeed, while restaurants with the worst human resources practices experience annual turnover rates of 45 percent and a typical worker tenure of 3.6 years, establishments with the best practices experience just a 26 percent turnover rate and enjoy an average worker tenure of 6.3 years
According to the survey, the most important human resource practices that restaurants can implement to decrease turnover and increase worker tenure are higher hourly wages and greater job security, as well as predicable full-time schedules, more discretion on the job, and the opportunity for internal promotion. Other helpful practices include providing job training and organizing work to allow employees to effectively use their skills. Restaurants are not the only employers who can benefit from these policies; business experts are discovering that these high-road practices make economic sense across a range of industries.
The numbers don't lie. This survey shows that when employers make smart investments in their employees, they benefit from the returns. It's time to create workplace conditions that allow both the restaurant industry and its workers to flourish.
Jan 16, 2014 | PERMALINK »
Shriver Report Shines Light on Women in Poverty
By Lauren French
Despite the fact that women have become increasingly essential to our workplaces and are outnumbering men in our institutions of higher learning, a shocking number of women are still living one illness, car breakdown, or missed paycheck away from financial disaster.
A new report co-authored by Maria Shriver and the Center for American Progress, with contributions from over a dozen other writers, reveals the stark economic realities women in this country are facing. The Shriver Report: A Woman’s Nation Pushes Back From The Brink reports that one in three women live in or on the edge of poverty.
“These are not women who are wondering if they can ‘have it all,’” Shriver explains in the report. “These are women who are already doing it all – working hard, providing, parenting, and caregiving. They’re already doing it all, yet they and their families can’t prosper, and that’s weighing the U.S. economy down.”
Enacting public policy aimed at reducing women’s economic insecurity is not only the right thing to do – it’s the economically sensible thing to do. According to the report, ensuring that women are paid equally to men would cut the poverty rate for working women in half. Closing the gender gap would have a profound effect on the U.S. economy as well, increasing GDP by a whopping $450 billion, or 2.9 percent.
Another essential part of reducing women’s economic insecurity is to adopt public policies -- like paid family and medical leave, paid sick days, the right to request predictable schedules, and workplace flexibility -- that allow women to balance the increasingly conflicting demands of work and family. At a forum about the report hosted by The Atlantic on January 15, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand explained the need for these policies, stating, “the face of the workplace has changed and all the policies workplaces utilize are stuck in the 50’s and 60’s.” These outdated policies often force working women to sacrifice their jobs or career mobility – and their economic security - in order to care for their sick children or ailing parents.
In order to address these antiquated policies, Senator Gillibrand, along with Representative Rosa DeLauro, recently introduced the Family and Medical Leave Insurance (FAMILY) Act. The legislation would establish a paid family and medical leave insurance program that would allow workers to care for themselves or a family member without having to sacrifice their financial security.
These policies are not only good for women and families; they are good for business as well. “Any business that has paid leave will tell you it is worth every bit of that investment,” said Senator Gillibrand. “What you’re gaining is a more loyal workforce, a happier workforce, a more efficient workforce, and one that doesn’t have to be constantly retrained.”
Patsy Doerr, global head of Diversity and Inclusion at Thomson Reuters, described how her company’s flexible workplace policies make good business sense. “You create a more engaged workplace and that leads to greater productivity at the end of the day and, generally, greater happiness among your employee population which, from a business perspective, drives better results.”
The Shriver Report is a necessary reminder about the importance of women’s economic security to the success of our economy overall. Enacting policies like paid sick days and paid family and medical leave is essential to allowing women and families to push back from the brink of poverty.