By all accounts, the United States is likely heading into a recession. Already, the country experienced two consecutive quarters of declining gross domestic product (GDP), which is a red flag.
Other signs include inflation, the cooling down of venture capitalist’s investment, a declining stock market, and varying interest rates. However, a strong job market persists, which throws off the usual domino effect, according to CNBC. Still, how people feel about their financial prospects matters, too.
Most Human Resources leaders are preparing for the worst. A recession is marked by an extended downturn in the economy, layoffs, unemployment, and lower consumer spending. For HR, recessions are magnified because they usually face the downsizing of their own department and the need to layoff talent, make due with less, and face the obvious consequences, which include having to constrict budget and lose talent pipelines for succession.
Therefore, Human Resources is usually keen on recession-proofing their business, and many have begun to do just that. Here are some ways to prepare for the coming storm:
Stick to the Budget
The pandemic made employees rethink their lives and shift their priorities. As a result, many were willing to leave the workforce unless employers transformed how they worked. The consequence was the Great Resignation. Whether one likes or hates that title, there is no question that the phenomenon of people quitting and a resulting labor shortage, which is also dependent on changing demographics, are real.
HR responded with signing bonuses and hefty pay raises. They plussed perks and benefits. With an oncoming recession, however, some of these tools for attracting talent must be curtailed or flat out stopped. Those with the future in mind are cutting back and avoiding risk when developing budgets.
Prioritize Employee Engagement and Experience
Smart Human Resources leaders recognize that the pandemic earned them their seat among C-suite executives. Business leaders are well aware that the talent churning out the work is vital to their success.
In many ways, employee engagement and experience is even more important in a recession. If there are layoffs, the people who remain become paramount. At the same time, they are likely overworked and stressed by the economy, not to mention the prospects of their organization. HR should step in and show gratitude and do what it can to keep up morale. Writing thank you cards and lending an ear are affordable ways to connect with workers.
Transparency is of the utmost importance during a recession. Obviously, organizations keep their plans for layoffs under wraps until the last minute. However, they should be able to offer honesty to the employees who remain.
Obviously, they are going to be concerned for their own future, what these layoffs mean for the future of the company, and how their work life will change from this point on. Will they be doing more work to fill in for those who had been let go? Are there going to be freezes on annual raises? How grave is the situation?
Human Resources is the conduit for communication with workers. HR leaders can communicate forthrightly and encourage executives to do the same. They can set up town halls, similar to the ones they planned during the pandemic, with business leaders in their organization. This kind of approach is crisis management 101.
Be Prepared for Layoffs
Layoffs are already happening at a number of companies, including Peloton, Netflix, and Ford. Google announced a hiring freeze. So, realistic HR leaders will prepare themselves for the possibility of stalemate at best and layoffs at worst. Also, they will avoid layoff mistakes, like informing people they are being let go in a cruel way like, for example, over a group Zoom meeting. While no one wants a recession to happen, smart HR leaders are getting ready for the worst case scenarios.
By Francesca Di Meglio
Originally posted on HR Exchange Network
Many young employees from Gen Z are taking to TikTok to express their frustration about the workplace and profess their practice of quiet quitting. Essentially, they are remaining at their jobs and still receiving paychecks and benefits, but they are sticking strictly to their the job descriptions and maintaining precise schedules.
On social media, some are bragging about doing the bare minimum because of their disappointment in their employer or simply as a lifestyle choice. Some older workers are suggesting this is a result of laziness or lack of ambition. Many in Gen Z argue that they are simply doing what is expected of them contractually, and nothing more, to maintain work-life balance.
The Phenomenon of Quiet Quitting
More than 3.9 million TikTok posts (and presumably counting) have addressed this phenomenon. Many explain that quiet quitting is really about setting boundaries and improving work-life balance or fighting the proverbial man.
“You’re not quiet quitting,” says Claudia Alick in a TikTok video. “You’re just resisting being stolen from. Unfortunately, that’s how capitalism works. That’s how they make a profit. The profit comes from you not getting paid your full value.”
But some career experts and even other TikTok users suggest that young employees are playing with fire. By never going above and beyond, they are making themselves vulnerable to layoffs at a time when budget is a concern. In addition, they might rule themselves out of promotions down the road.
Emily Smith, a TikTok user, reminds people that their boss might not know all their tasks or how long it takes for them to get everything done. She suggests having a conversation about what to prioritize and how to spread out the deadlines is a better route than quiet quitting. Others suggest this practice is bad news for employers.
“Experts say any lack of motivation among a company’s youngest workers can become a troubling sign. ‘Organizations are dependent on employees doing more than a minimum,'” says Mark Royal, senior director for Korn Ferry Advisory, according to a Korn Ferry blog.
What Should HR Do?
HR leaders should investigate the phenomenon of quiet quitting to determine whether it is happening at their organization. After all, a lack of employee engagement is top of mind in Human Resources. Thirty percent of those who responded to the latest State of HR report said employee engagement and experience is their top priority.
The pandemic forced people to rethink their lifestyle and reprioritize work. For many, family, friends, and personal pursuits have replaced work in the top spot. Some say that quiet quitting is the new checking out. Regardless, the Great Resignation has shown that employers, who do not take these shifts in culture seriously, will pay in a loss of talent.
At the same time, the top consequence of the pandemic, according to the respondents of State of HR, was burnout. That may be why TikTok users are leading the charge to demand better working conditions. Certainly, HR leaders are responding with different benefits, such as unlimited PTO and zen rooms, and policies like devising rules that limit calls and emails outside of work hours.
Even Goldman Sachs, famous for its 100-hour work weeks for associates, is requiring employees to take paid time off. Salesforce is testing work weeks with no meetings. Others are experimenting with four-day work weeks, flexibility in when and where employees work, and company-wide vacation days. This experimentation is part of the transformation of work that everyone is witnessing post pandemic.
The question becomes whether quiet quitting is an afront to employers that will degrade their ability to serve customers and innovate or is simply a new way of working that puts people’s personal lives and wellbeing above everything else. Perhaps, this is just part of the cultural shift and workplace transformation the country has been experiencing since the start of the pandemic.
By Francesca Di Meglio
Originally posted on HR Exchange Network
“Financial Wellness” is getting a lot of buzz these days — and for good reason! After all, today’s workforce is overwhelmed by mounting student debt and other rising expenses.
Financial wellness refers to a person’s overall financial health and is one of many factors that makes up employee wellbeing. We often think of wellbeing as related to physical and mental health, but financial stress impacts a person’s health as well. When employees are stressed about their financial situation it effects their productivity, attendance and engagement in the workplace.
Organizations are continually looking for ways to stay competitive and have an advantage in attracting and retaining qualified employees. With the current economic conditions, people are looking for jobs that offer more than just paid time off and health insurance. Therefore, many businesses have turned their focus to employee financial wellness programs to add value to their compensation packages. More than 51% of organizations offer financial wellness initiatives and 29% of companies are interested in launching financial wellness programs. Offered as a voluntary benefit, financial wellness programs send employees a valuable message, letting them know their company cares about them and is ready to extend a helping hand to those in need.
The goal of implementing a financial wellness program is to support and improve the financial health of employees by providing tools and resources to help them manage their current finances, protect against unforeseen financial hardships, and plan for a financially secure future.
Let’s take a look at some of the financial wellness solutions available:
- Educational Programs – An education-focused program that equips employees with the information they need to plan for emergencies using current employer benefits. Financial guidance sessions and financial education workshops are available via live chat that teach employees about budgeting, credit scores, retirement savings and savings accounts.
- Employer Matching Programs – A matching program involves an employer matching a certain percentage of contributions that employees make to their 401k, student loan repayment or a 529 (college savings) fund.
- Financial Assistance Programs – These programs focus on alternative stressors employees might not have considered as a factor in their financial health. These include medical bill zero-interest financing, medical bill negotiation, relocation assistance and stock options.
- Insurance Options – Employers can consider including alternative insurance programs such as long-term care insurance, pet insurance, adoption and fertility insurance, accident insurance, critical illness insurance, and life and disability insurance.
Over the past year, employee financial distress has intensified, which means it’s the perfect opportunity to bring financial education into your workplace. It won’t be easy. Reducing financial stress and improving financial health for your employees takes a comprehensive plan, but it will be worth the investment. Your commitment to prioritizing financial health will help improve the lives of your employees. Financially healthy employees are healthier and happier; they are better for the company’s bottom line.
Today’s offices potentially span five full generations ranging from Generation Z to the Silent Generation. A coworker could just as easily be raised with a smart phone in hand as they could have used a typewriter at their first job. Some see differences between generational colleagues as an annoyance (“kids these days!”) and many rely on generational stereotypes as fact. Current research questions the validity of generational stereotypes. This series uncovers top generational myths as a strategy to support a diverse and healthy employee population.
The U.S. population soared following World War II and this surge created the aptly named Baby Boomer generation. This generation was born between 1946 and 1964 and represents the eldest colleagues at work. The top three myths of Baby Boomers include:
- Baby Boomers don’t understand technology.
This stereotype has been overplayed in popular media. (The older colleague scared of Excel who needs to call the helpdesk to send a Slack message.) The truth is that a member of this generation (Tim Berners-Lee, to be exact) invented the internet. And while their zeal for new apps will likely not match your fresh college graduates, they are still more than capable. Between 76% and 81% of Boomers go online regularly. Give them a chance.
- Boomers are traditionalists.
The real question is, how are you defining tradition? Because Baby Boomers were the firsts in a lot of meaningful areas that can hardly be called traditional. Many Baby Boomers were idealists and had no problem taking action to support their social and political visions. This same vigor is seen in the workplace. For example, more Boomer women entered the job force than prior generations, increasing representation in the workplace. Just because this generation doesn’t share some of the same proclivities as younger generations, don’t assume they won’t speak up for what they want or will accept the status quo.
- Boomers are ready to exit the workforce.
With the older members of this generation approaching 80 years old, many assume this group is on its way out the door. The facts tell a different story. A 2018 Pew Research Study showed that close to 30% of Boomers in the 65-to-72-year age range were engaged in looking for a job or working. Baby Boomers aren’t sitting back on their heels (nor can they with the additional income needed to support the longer lives they lead in comparison to their parents’ generation). They want to stay connected with the workforce whether this is staying on staff in a full-time capacity or finding a part-time job where they can explore their hobbies. Boomers make great mentors as well so don’t pass up this opportunity to learn from your elders.
Baby Boomers had, and still have, a heavy pull in corporate America. This is a result of their group’s size, as well as their plans to stick around the office longer than expected. They may be more technology savvy than assumed and can’t be boxed into the traditionalist category. Finally, Baby Boomers are full of institutional knowledge that other generations should soak up.
This is the last article in the multi-generational myths series and can serve as a warning to not judge a book by its cover. While generations are affected by similar political, social, and economic events, they also develop in nuanced ways.
© UBA. All rights reserved.
All too often, illness or injury appears out of the blue: You wake up in the middle of the night with intense abdominal pain. You stumble while carrying groceries up a flight of stairs and can no longer put weight on your swollen ankle. Or your baby spikes a high fever on the weekend.
These situations are stressful and it’s hard to think when you’re under stress. But you need to decide where to go to get medical care for yourself or a loved one. Understanding the levels of acute medical care before you need it can help you focus and get the appropriate help quickly.
Urgent care centers and emergency rooms are both great options for times when you are unable to see your primary care physician (PCP). The reasons for choosing these facilities can be because the injury or sickness has occurred outside normal office hours for your doctor or that you are out of town when an emergency hits. As you know, the first choice for non-life or limb-threatening conditions should be your regular doctor—they will have your medical history on file and your medication list at the ready. When this is not an option, you will need to make the choice on what level of care you need.
Urgent Care Centers
Urgent care centers fill the gap between when you are sick or minorly injured but cannot see your PCP and when you can’t wait for an appointment. Most urgent care locations are staffed by doctors or physician’s assistants. These centers can get you in and out quickly and some even take appointments. Since you will not see your PCP at these clinics, it’s always best to bring a copy of all the medications and dosages of meds you take. If you have a special condition, like epilepsy, make sure you disclose that to the urgent care provider you see. Most have access to x-ray machines and basic diagnostic tests. The typical range of costs for care at these centers is between $150-$200.
Here are some conditions that typically can be seen at urgent care centers:
- Fevers, flu or cold symptoms
- Ear infections
- Smaller cuts that may require stitches
- Urinary tract infections
- Vomiting or diarrhea
Emergency Room Care
Hospital emergency rooms provide care for life and limb-threatening situations ranging from heart attack and stroke to car accident injuries. Staffed by physicians, nurses, and specialists, emergency rooms have access to highly knowledgeable and diverse medical teams. In emergency rooms, care is given to the most serious injury/illness first—not on a first-come, first-served basis. Because of this, wait times in emergency rooms are widely varied and may be into a several hours-long wait. Again, it is wise to bring a list of any medications, both prescribed and over-the-counter, with you when seeking care since the ER will not have this information from your PCP. The average cost of an emergency room visit costs $2,200 according to UnitedHealthcare.
Symptoms that are best evaluated in an emergency room include:
- Chest pain or difficulty breathing
- Weakness/numbness on one side
- Serious burns
- Head or eye injury
- Broken bones and dislocated joints
- Severe cuts that may require stitches
- Pregnancy Complications
- Any condition that you think may need surgery or a stay in the hospital
When faced with the decision to visit an urgent care center or emergency room, you have to first evaluate your symptoms. Once you have done this, ask yourself this question, “Does this condition have the possibility of permanently impairing or endangering your life?” If the answer is “yes,” then you have an emergency and should proceed to the nearest hospital ER. If the answer is “no,” then head over to your local urgent care center. You will save yourself time and money by making a good choice on your care.
Respondents to the latest State of HR report list burnout as the greatest consequence of the pandemic. In fact, the Great Resignation lingers, in part, because the burnout has gotten worse. Now, companies are facing inflation, the yanking of job offers, and the possibility of layoffs. While they are tightening their belts and being far more cautious, their workers remain overworked and burdened.
So, HR leaders are in hot pursuit of mental health and wellness solutions, ways to reach out and show they care. They want to help improve retention and ensure a functioning, healthy workforce. Knowing where to begin with a burnout prevention plan is challenging.
Access to Help
To start, HR professionals must connect their employees with resources to help them reduce stress, treat diagnosed mental illness, and everything in between. This requires due diligence. Experts suggest that HR leaders conduct surveys, ask questions, and listen to employees to learn what they need. Then, they can take action and provide solutions that will be used and are more likely to work.
Paid time off (PTO) is crucially getting redesigned for the new workplace. Aside from changing the delivery with options like unlimited PTO, companies are insisting people take time off. Goldman Sachs, for instance, will require employees to take a minimum of 15 days off per year beginning in 2023.
Even if some organizations do not have a minimum vacation policy, they are encouraging leaders to use their PTO to model healthy behavior. Many employees feel pressure to keep working, especially if they see their bosses chaining themselves to their desks. Getting people in the United States to use their PTO is part of a cultural shift that is taking place. Suddenly, people are interested in making work-life balance a priority. Getting time off and stepping away from work is a way to combat burnout.
Some HR leaders are pushing for mini breaks throughout the day. This could be a five- or 10-minute pause after a meeting or between tasks. The idea is for people to take a deep breath, go to the bathroom, reflect on their to-do list or what happened in the last meeting, walk around a bit, rest their eyes after hours on the computer, etc.
This is a shorter version of the traditional coffee break (but one certainly could grab a coffee or tea). Mini breaks allow people to transition from one task to another and briefly rest their mind, so they do not feel as though they are on the go 24/7. Some companies, as reported in the Employee Engagement and Experience for the Post-COVID World report, offer zen rooms that give people a chance to chill out at work.
Having better work-life balance can improve stress and reduce the likelihood of burnout. Again, it’s incumbent upon leaders in the organization to set the standard by not sending out emails before or after typical working hours, for example. Make rules about when teammates can call one another about work – and stick to them.
Most importantly, recognize when a meeting could be an email and do not schedule it. In fact, some companies are choosing at least one day per week with no scheduled meetings. These scheduling efforts might seem like small gestures, but clearing the calendar and separating work hours from personal hours can ease pressure.
Flexibility is the keyword of the moment. Employees want permission to work when and where they want as long as they maintain their output and deliver for their bosses. Many employers are not on board. There is a grand debate about working from home or returning to work with many in leadership preferring RTO.
Still, there are ways to be flexible and empathetic. For instance, if someone needs to pick up their kids from school, a manager can allow them to do so. In some offices, they allow workers to bring their pets to the office. Just knowing that one’s boss supports him if something comes up can help combat the stress that leads to burnout.
Lighten Work Loads
With the labor shortage that many are experiencing and the fact that employers are trying to do more with less, people are feeling overworked. In these cases, managers should delegate, so that people are sharing the burdens. Also, they can refrain from having people do repetitive tasks that might be nice but are not necessary. Perhaps, workers can gather numbers for the monthly report every other month instead.
Finding ways to help employees prevent burnout is a top priority for HR leaders. After all, burnout is contributing to the record number of Americans quitting their jobs, which is causing a labor shortage for many. To combat burnout is a way to work on retention.
By Francesca Di Meglio
Originally posted on HR Exchange Network