Boomerang Workers

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If you were living under a rock, then you might have missed the news that Lebron James made the decision to return to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Earlier this month, James announced that he had re-signed with the Cleveland Cavaliers, the team he played with from 2003 to 2010 until leaving to join the Miami Heat. By doing so, James became part of a growing group of workers that experts are referring to as “boomerang employees.” Boomerang employees are workers who ultimately decide to return to former companies after resigning and leaving for sometime.

Although rebounding to a former employer used to be exceedingly rare, nowadays it is becoming increasingly common. Today’s generation of employees bounce from job to job more often, meaning that leaving a company is no longer an act of betrayal. In today’s job market, employers are more willing to welcome former employees back with open arms.

The New York Times reports that experts are finding that the employee move can be a win-win for both the worker and the employer. Companies are saving on recruiting costs and are able to label the hire as less risky, while returning workers have the advantage of already knowing the company culture.

When does boomeranging back to an old job makes the most sense? One recent report on these employees, “Gone Today but Here Tomorrow,” studied an accounting firm where 20% of hires were returning workers. The study concluded that those who had left to pursue a clear path, such as grad school or to achieve a big career goal, were the most likely to eventually return to their former employer. In other words, people aren’t returning back to toxic work places or because they were underpaid. Additionally, a  similar study found that the returnees who found the most success were those who didn’t stay away from the company for too long, and had originally resigned on good terms.

If you are interested in one day returning to a company, career expects suggest that you should always leave a job respectfully and never burn bridges when switching jobs. Although you may not be a 6-foot-8-inch NBA superstar, you can still maintain positive relationships and one day join the ranks of workers, James included, known as Boomerang employees.

Skip Lunch Before the Interview

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According to a new study by two researchers from Cornell University and Dartmouth College, hungry people often feel like they deserve more than their peers. So before you go to your next job interview, skip the lunch. The sense of entitlement that accompanies hunger may be the extra oomph you need to convince a potential employer that you are the one they should hire, according to the researchers.

Emily Zitek, assistant professor at Cornell’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations and co-author of the study, stated, “If being hungry is a good way for someone to be entitled, as the surveys showed, they can maybe skip lunch or skip breakfast or something.”

To gather their results, the two researchers conducted two experiments using the same survey, which asked undergraduate students to agree or disagree on a sale of 1 to 7 with statements such as: “I honestly feel more deserving than others,” and “Things should go my way.” Additionally, they were asked to rank their hunger on the same 1-to-7 scale.

During the first experiment, 103 students that were coming into and out of the campus dining hall were surveyed. The students filled out an optional questionnaire of information on the back of the survey as a further judge of their generosity with time. During the second experiment, the researchers surveyed one group of participants who said they enjoyed pizza in a lab filled with the aroma of a frozen pie cooking in a nearby toaster oven. For comparison, a second group was surveyed in a lab without pizza. During both instances, hungrier participants reported feeling more entitled and were more likely to refuse to help the researcher by answering the extra questions.

According to Zitek, feeling more deserving during an interview or negotiation for salary could boost a worker’s confidence. However, she goes on to warn that a growling stomach could intensify someone’s personality too much.  Zitek’s research cited earlier studies that found that feeling more deserving cold make your abrasive to co-workers and difficult to manage.

New Ruling Effects McDonald’s and Other Fast Food Giants

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A decision made by federal regulators could alter the lives of millions of America’s lowest-paid workers, while opening the way for complaints blaming McDonald’s for low pay and poor working conditions in its restaurants. The ruling, determined by the New York regional office of the National Labor Relations Board, stated that McDonald’s shares responsibility for workers’ wages and working conditions with the operators of its franchise restaurants.

The fast food giant can now be named as a “joint employer” on 113 unfair labor practices complaints filed by franchise workers that are currently pending across the nation. The new designation could now provide workers with more clout in future legal actions seeking higher wages or better working conditions.

According to Mark Barenberg, a law professor at Columbia Law School, “The determination from the NLRB’s General Counsel has the potential to upend the fast-food industry’s decades-long strategy of “out-sourcing” legal responsibility to franchisees when it comes to securing workers’ rights.” He goes on to say that the ruling “leaves no doubt” that franchise workers are employees of McDonald’s.

The new ruling will force McDonald’s to take responsibility for the treatment of employees in more than 14,000 restaurants that use its name. The ruling also allows workers to name the fast-food chain as well as a franchise company in complaints against the company over matters such as better wages and working conditions.

McDonald’s isn’t the only chain that the decision is impacting, however. It also has implications for businesses such as Burger King, in addition to KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut, which are all owned by Yum! Brands but primarily operated as franchises.

A spokeswoman for McDonald’s USA informed The Associated Press that the company intends to appeal the decision. Additionally, Richard Eiker, a McDonald’s employee for more than 30 years, stated that the company constantly monitors its franchises, using tracking software, on-site inspections and visits from “secret shoppers” to monitor operations. However, the business argues that it does not direct hiring, firing, wages or hours of employees at the franchise restaurants.

The recent issue was pushed to the forefront by labor organizers that were backed by the United Service Employees International Union, which has staged nationwide protests in favor of higher wages and more stable work hours for fast-food employees.

Promoting Workplace Diversity

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According to a new study by researchers at the University of Colorado and University of Texas, women and minorities who promote diversity from corporate leadership positions tend to get lower evaluations from their bosses and colleagues. The study was based on two separate experiments and determined that white men did not appear to suffer in their performance ratings for valuing diversity, while women and minorities did.

During the first experiment, researchers studied the performance evaluations of 362 high-level executives. The evaluations were provided by bosses and peers to executives in the a leadership-training program. Women and minorities who received higher marks for valuing diversity, received lower scores in their reviews than women and minority colleagues who didn’t appear to value diversity as much.

In the second experiment, the team had 295 students watch trained actors playing human-resources professionals who were pitching to hire certain candidates. Some of the actors pushed for the non-white-male candidates and emphasized diversity in their pitch, while others advocated for the white male candidates. During the presentation, the students reacted negatively when women and minority actors pushed for diverse candidates. According to David Hekman, the lead author of the study and a management professor at the University of Colorado’s Leeds School of Business, women in the audience actually winced when they saw women pushing for another woman to get the job for the sake of diversity.

On the opposite hand, the student reacted pretty positively to pitches for hiring white men, said Hekman and even more so when women and non-white actors were the ones doing the pitching. Researchers suggested that the reactions may arise from negative stereotypes about women and minorities. When the women and minorities promoted each other, it fit into the misguided notion that they are more likely to engage in favoritism than promote deserving candidates.

One circumstance in which we have seen this biased played out can be seen when looking at Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer and the recently-fired New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson. Mayer has publicly distanced herself from feminism, and works for a business in which just 23 percent of its senior managers are women. On the other hand, Abramson has repeatedly called filling half of the Times’ leadership roles with women one of her greatest accomplishments. “Marissa Mayer is worth $300 million bucks, and Jill Abramson is fired,” said Hekman.

Heckman and his team promotes putting white men in charge of promoting diversity at companies. Many companies have established “chief diversity officer” roles, but keep filling the jobs with women and minorities, which only reinforces the negative stereotypes. Hekman states, “Nobody can attack a white man for being selfish if he’s promoting diversity.”

Twitter Admits Diversity Problem

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Following in the footsteps of Google, Facebook, Yahoo and LinkedIn, Twitter recently disclosed the diversity numbers for its global and U.S. employees. Much like the other top tech companies, Twitter is composed of a workforce that is primarily white and male, especially when examining tech-related positions.

When examining the breakdown at Twitter, 70% of employees are male and 30% are female. Delving deeper, when you look at the numbers for tech-related jobs, the ratio switches from 90% male employees to 10% female employees. Although the statistics are split straight down the middle in terms of gender for non tech jobs, it is still evident that the company has a diversity problem. In addition to the discrepancy in tech-based positions, male employees also account for 79% of the leadership positions within the company.

Twitter isn’t just struggling in diversity amongst male and female employees; there is also an unequal breakdown when it comes to ethnicity within the company. The majority of Twitter’s employees are white at 59%, while 29% are Asian, 2% are African American or Black, and 3% are Hispanic. Looking at leadership roles once again, 72% of them are occupied by white employees.

As aforementioned, Twitter isn’t the only company that is struggling with a diversity problem. Facebook, Yahoo, LinkedIn and Google all reported very similar statistics earlier this year. Along with the other businesses, Twitter has admitted that it has a lot of work to do in the diversity department. The company has begun an initiative to improve diversity in Silicon Valley, by supporting Girls Who Code, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping women get into computer engineering. Additionally, the social media firm will continue to regularly host Girl Geek Dinners in San Francisco and Boston.

Earning Your Ideal Salary

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When it comes to the amount of money that you would like to earn in your life, chances are you already have a target number in your head. Though it may change based on life responsibilities or future aspirations, you’ve determined the amount that you would like to earn based on you current lifestyle. According to a new CareerBuilder survey, 65 percent of full-time U.S. workers say that they do not currently earn their desired salaries. Many of workers who say that they do not earn their desired salary fell into the $75,000 to $100,000 range.

Though a strong majority desires earnings within that range, it doesn’t reflect every single person’s desired level of success. Looking further in depth, the survey explored the desired level of success of workers, how people reach their level of success and what the effect of employer transparency has on salary figures.

When it comes to feeling successful, there were several different factors that workers considered. Elements such as an area’s cost of living, the size of the earner’s household and the current and future responsibilities that they have were taken into consideration when workers labeled what they need to earn in order to feel successful. According to Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder, “The survey supports past research suggesting that the $75,000 threshold is particularly significant, as this level allows households in most areas of the country to not only get by, but enjoy an ideal lifestyle and a secure future.”  She goes on to say that what workers would like to earn does not necessarily factor into what they actually need for a successful career. Despite the fact that nearly two-thirds of workers aren’t yet satisfied with their earnings, most believe that they can feel successful without earning large paychecks. For most workers, success is relative to the type of work that the individual does and their present career stage. Workers find success near their own salary level or in the range directly above. Haefner points out that this is healthy behavior, because it demonstrates that “workers can derive meaning from their work at any level while still striving for that next promotion or raise.”

If you are aiming to reach your ideal level of salary success, then there are some strategic career moves that you should make happen. Salary bumps are usually your own doing regardless of whether or not you are applying for new jobs and negotiating better pay each time or staying with your current employer and asking for a raise. Approximately 56 percent of workers have never asked for a raise, despite the fact that success rates are very high among those who have. In fact, two-thirds of workers who asked for a raise received them. Instead of being reluctant to request a salary boost, conduct necessary research and make a valid argument for why you deserve the increase in pay.

The survey also examined the impact of salary transparency on work. Salary transparency, or disclosing the pay of all employees at a company, is a hotly contested subject among workers and employers. Approximately 29 percent of employers openly disclose workers’ salaries. Even more shocking, two-thirds of workers would not like it if their company openly disclosed all salaries.

Overall, determining the salary number that works best for you requires consideration of several different factors. Consider the elements of your job that matter most and the number that you feel you require in order to live a comfortable lifestyle that fits your needs. If you are interested in taking one more step towards attaining your ideal salary, then carefully prepare to speak to your boss regarding a raise.

Microsoft Takes a Hit From Nokia Business

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On Tuesday, Microsoft announced that Nokia’s devices and services business lost a shocking $692 million between April 25 and June 30. Microsoft acquired Nokia on April 25, and the losses were measured at the end of the company’s most recent quarter. Although the loss includes some non-recurring expenses, it is evident that Nokia is presently an unhealthy business.

Just last week, Microsoft’s new CEO Staya Nadella, announced plans to cut 18,000 jobs within the next year, or about 14% of the company. Approximately 12,500 of the cuts will come directly from Nokia. In Nadella’s memo to Microsoft staff, he stated that Microsoft identified many redundancies between the two companies, including both professional and factory workers.

Moving forward, Nadella’s next task is to determine how to integrate Nokia devices with Windows Phone in a sector that is presently dominated by Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android. Kicking off the project, Nadella has already announced plans to get rid of Nokia’s short-lived “Nokia X” Android smartphone experiment.

Despite the heavy hit from Nokia, other parts of Microsoft are performing well and demonstrating signs of a healthy business. Search advertising revenue from Bing grew 40% versus a year prior and subscriptions for Office 365 software has risen by 1 million. Additionally, sales of Windows software to manufacturers increased by 3%, a positive sign after years of weak PC sales.

Setting the news of Nokia’s financial toll aside, Microsoft’s sales have totaled $23.3 billion, ahead of Wall Street expectations, and sent shares up slightly in after-hours trading.

Apple Facing Class-Action Suit

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In a ruling late Monday, Judge Ronald S. Prager of the Superior Court of California for the County of San Diego granted class certification to nearly 21,000 current and former Apple employees over claims that the company failed to provide timely meal and rest breaks as required by the law, and sometimes denied workers rest breaks altogether. The class certification will apply to a large group of retail employees and workers at the corporate headquarters.

According to California law, employers are typically required to provide 30-minute lunch breaks within an employee’s first five hours at work each day and to provide a 10-minute rest break every four hours or major fraction thereof. Additionally, employers are also required to provide a second rest break for shifts that run six to 10 hours long.

Judge Prager wrote that there was evidence to support the claim that Apple failed to authorize second rest breaks. A lawyer for the plaintiffs, Tyler J. Belong, stated “The common thread here is Apple’s formal policy did not provide for meal periods and rest periods on a timely basis.” Judge Prager, did however acknowledge that Apple adopted a new policy in August 2012 that sought to comply with the law, just nine months after the lawsuit was filed. Currently, the case covers violations believed to have occurred from December 2007 to August 2012.

An Apple spokeswoman, Kristin Huguet, said the company declines to comment. Throughout litigation, Apple stated that it provided workers with timely meal breaks and that its scheduling practices did not cause late meal or rest breaks.

Under California law, employers are required to compensate workers with an extra hour of pay each time that meal or rest breaks are not given on a timely basis or are not provided at all, leading legal experts to believe that the case could seek into the tens of millions of dollars.

Judge Prager determined that a class action would be an effective way to handle the claims due to the high cost of litigating individual suits. “A class action is the only feasible method to fairly and efficiently adjudicate these claims.”

World’s 2nd Richest Man Advocates 3 Day Work Week

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The Financial Times recently reported that Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim suggested that workers shift to a three-day work week. During a speech at a conference in Paraguay, Slim advocated his suggestion for radical change in the typical five-day work week.

The paper quotes him as saying, “People are going to have to work for more years, until they are 70 or 75, and just work three days a week—perhaps 11 hours a day.” Based on estimates, Slim is the world’s second richest man, thanks to the wealth earned from Telmax, a telecom company. Workers at Telmex are now able to retire before they are 50 years old in some cases. However, reports also indicate that those eligible for early retirement are given the option of a four-day work week at full pay upon reaching retirement age.

“With three work days a week, we would have more time to relax; for quality of life,” says Slim. “Having four days [off] would be very important to generate new entertainment activities and other ways of being occupied.”

Presently, employees in Mexico work more hours than their counterparts in any other country, according to a study by the OECD, an international economic forum. The study demonstrated that workers there work 2,317 hours a year, or 44.6 hours a week, compared to an average of 1,798 hours a year in the United States.

In 1938, the 40-hour, five-day work week became a standard for U.S. workers. Despite gains in productivity and predictions of a significantly shorter work week that would follow, it has remained the standard for more than 75 years.

Though the standard work week is still the most common arrangement for full-time U.S. workers, 43% of employers offer at least some workers the option of a shorter week, according to the latest survey conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management.

Currently, the concept of working a compressed week is popular with employees. In 2008, a survey of workers by the Families of Work Institute found that 46% of workers that were offered the option of a shorter work week chose to work it at least some of the time. Additionally, of those not offered the option, 59% of them would like the option of a more compressed week.

Would you want to work a compressed work week? Do you think that it would be beneficial to workers and businesses?

Handling the Office Bully

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Researchers Joseph Grenny and David Maxfield recently conducted a study for their organization, VitalSmarts, in which 96 percent of survey respondents said they have experienced bullying at work. Though it is evident that bullying is an issue in the workplace, the definition isn’t what most expect.

For starters, researchers who have studied bullying among children have found two different kinds: physical and emotional bullying. Typically, young boys will engage in physical bullying by threatening, intimidating, hitting, shoving or tripping. On the other hand, girls tend to employ emotional bullying by excluding others, gossiping, humiliating and withdrawing friendship. Researchers who have studied workplace bullying focus very narrowly on physical bullying.

Grenny and Maxfield took a more broad approach in their research and found that emotional bullying is far more common in today’s workplace. More than two-thirds of the respondents experienced emotional bullying, while less than one-third experienced physical bullying.

If you are in an unfortunate scenario in which you are dealing with an office bully, follow the specific tips below to handle the situation:

1. Reverse the thinking
Many employees opt to suffer in silence because of the perceived risks associated with speaking up. However, individuals who do speak up and hold others accountable do the opposite by not thinking first of the risks. Change the order of the risk assessment in order to increase your likelihood of taking action and carefully speaking up.

2. Provide the facts first
When discussing the problem, be sure to remove any judgmental or provocative language from the conversation. Be very specific and stick to the detailed facts of the conflict.

3. Validate concerns
Bullying behavior is typically triggered by a legitimate concern. Validate that need while also conveying unwillingness to tolerate the way the situation was handled.

4. Share natural consequences
When you address the problem, clearly communicate to the bully that there are consequences to their way of handling their concerns for employees, customers and work projects.

5. Set boundaries
Moving forward, establish expectations for the bully’s behavior in the future. Request a commitment and determine what the next step will be if there is a recurrence.

Research has demonstrated that bullies can change if someone stands up to them and helps them see the consequences of their actions. Instead of writing the scenario off and considering it a lost cause, follow the steps above to communicate effectively and resolve the problem.