May 29, 2015-Two high profile U.S. based Corporations made very distinct and contrasting employment statements today. Amazon announced the hiring of 6,000 workers in the United States while Cisco Systems announced they were laying off the very same number, 6000.
Amazon’s hiring will increase it’s fulfillment center workforce by approximately 10% in the United States. Hiring in this segment of Amazon’s business will be to meet the growing demand for order fulfillment at its 50 Distribution Centers around the country.
Meanwhile Cisco Systems, the computer networking company, will reduce it’s workforce the same figure, or approximately 8% of its workforce, to address financial restructuring of the company in difficult economic times.
The contrast between the two companies is a microcosm of the rollercoaster that has been the United States economy for the past several years; up and down. For New York State workers the news has a particularly bad impact as none of the Amazon jobs will be in New York yet Cisco Systems is a New York based company.
May 7, 2015– Earlier this year McDonald’s Corporation announced it would be voluntarily raising its base pay to $9.90 an hour. This figure exceeds the current Federal and State minimum wage requirements. While the fast food giant’s compensation also exceeds the base pay for numbers of large employers throughout the United States it is far below the increase sought by a vocal band of fast food workers that call themselves Fight For 15.
Fight For 15 is an emerging band of increasingly organized fast food workers seeking a base pay of $15 an hour as their minimum wage. These workers make it clear that it is more than a matter of principle for them. It is economics. The group, through its video and literary campaign, have spotlighted full-time employees with several years of employment with McDonald’s, and similarly situated companies, that are unable to meet the most basic of household expenses. Many of these full-time employees are on government assistance because their full-time pay does not exceed the established poverty line. Fight For 15 is looking to dispel the notion that being on government assistance and lacking work ethic are synonymous concepts. They argue they are just being undervalued and underpaid.
McDonald’s workers have announced their intention to stage a protest at the May 21st Annual Shareholder’s meeting to highlight the economic plight of the workers. They intend to present a petition signed by, over, 1 million Americans calling for the pay raises they are seeking. This would not be the first such protest by the group.
Meanwhile, McDonald’s is in the midst of increasing economic pressure from rising food costs, diminishing sales, and competition. Announcements have been made to close a number of locations and to undergo a revitalization of the company into a more “progressive” burger company. New CEO Steve Easterbrook has made verbal commitments to address training, pay, and benefits on an ongoing basis; however, with 420,000 workers nationwide he has been unwilling to commit to a, more than, $6 per hour increase per worker. The economic impact of this dramatic increase on the company is unclear.
Workers and employers across the country are carefully watching the McDonald’s saga unfold. The impact of the changes, or resistance thereto, for such a large employer and industry leader will likely resonate far beyond the purview of the Golden Arches.
April 23, 2015-2015 has been marked by political and media debate over the relative benefits and pitfalls of significant raises in the current minimum wage law. While politicians on the Federal and state level propose and debate legislation on this important topic many major corporate employers have begun to undertake voluntary increases, ranging from negligible to substantial. As 2015 proceeds the outcome of this legislation, these voluntary increases, and their economic impact will continue to be an issue of national discussion and analysis on both sides of the argument.
SEATAC, Wash. — In late 2013, voters in this airport town outside Seattle narrowly approved a groundbreaking measure setting a minimum wage of $15 per hour for certain workers. When the new law went into effect last year, Sammi Babakrkhil got a whopping 57 percent raise.
A valet attendant and shuttle driver at a parking company called MasterPark, Babakrkhil saw his base wage jump from $9.55 per hour, before tips, up to $15. Having scraped by in America since immigrating from Afghanistan 11 years ago, he suddenly faced the pleasant predicament as his co-workers: What to do with the windfall?
“What can be done to make American workers more productive?”
It would seem the simplistic answer to this question might come down to three things; money, money, & more money; however, recent studies of the American workplace seem to indicate that there are other, non-monetary components that contribute to employee productivity. In fact, according to Ronald Friedman, author and Phd. specializing in workplace psychology, meeting workers’ emotional needs is just as significant as meeting their financial needs when it comes to employee productivity.
1. Introduce Plant Life into the Work Environment– Studies have shown that plants in the workplace create a more pleasant and productive environment. Any type of foliage will do. It is best to suit them to the environment, lighting, and the workers’ abilities to care for them when choosing plant types.
2. Temperature Control– Creating a comfortable temperature through thermostat, or clothing, adjustments is vital to productivity. One study even found that typists made less errors at 71 degrees F than at lower temperatures. The key is finding a comfortable temperature that works for the whole staff. Fighting over the thermostat is not conducive to a healthy work environment.
3. Save Your Exercise for the Gym– Whether it is to save time, or because workers are under the impression that physical activity during the conduct of business was beneficial, exercise on the job, actually, decreased worker productivity according to one analysis. Workers that ran on a treadmill while conducting business did neither, particularly, well.
4. Ambient Lighting and Noise– Low lighting and some level of noise have tested as positive to worker productivity. While blocking out all noise may seem like a good way to concentrate, it seems that the complete absence of noise is not the optimal environment for being productive.
5. Lose the Angles– If you have any say in the furniture in your work environment it seems that studies reveal that softer, rounded edges to furniture are more conducive to productivity than sharp, hard edges like conventional business furniture.
There are numerous factors that contribute to worker satisfaction and productivity. Financial compensation and remuneration are, certainly, important considerations; however, they are not the only ones. Most American workers, spending most of their waking hours in a workplace, are more productive when the environment of that workplace provides them with emotional comfort, security, and non-monetary features that increase their happiness.
Creative approaches to improving work environments can be keys to employee retention and satisfaction.
A Westbury attorney specializing in employment law is urging Long Island businesses to raise their minimum pay rates to $10.10 now, instead of waiting for the federal government to mandate that same wage increase.
Neil Greenberg ofNeil Greenberg & Associatessays increasing minimum pay now will create long-term benefits for the employer and the employee alike – and will also spur local economic growth, enough to outweigh whatever employer costs are associated with the hike.
“When modest wage-earners are paid more money, they spend that money,” Greenberg said. “They generally spend it in our communities.”
So local businesses will end up supporting each other, the attorney added, as higher take-home pay flows back into the local economy.
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