Amazon Raising All US Workers to a Minimum of $15/hr Is The Simplest Business Decision Ever...

In case you missed it, Amazon announced today that it would establish a $15/hr minimum hourly wage for all 350,000 of its U.S. employees.

The new pay threshold will go into effect Nov. 1 and impact all full-time, temporary and seasonal workers across the company’s U.S. warehouse and customer service teams as well as Whole Foods, the company said in a blog post. It did not disclose what its current minimum pay wage is for U.S. workers, perhaps in part because there is not one set rate. Jeff-bezos-

You can say that it's the right thing to do, but beyond providing a livable wage for employees, THIS IS THE SMARTEST THING AMAZON COULD HAVE DONE FROM A BUSINESS PERSPECTIVE.

Why is that? Because the Amazon effect is on the cusp of being like the Wal-Mart effect of a decade ago.  Remember that vibe?  Wal-Mart put small, local mom and pop shops out of business.  Then they were accused of providing bad jobs and poor working environments.

We all love Amazon Prime.  But Amazon is eliminating as many jobs as Wal-Mart.  They just aren't as visible as the mom and pops that went out of business a decade or two ago.  They're putting big box retailers, malls, strip malls and e-commerce shops out of business.  Why?  Amazon Prime.  We love it.  It's changing a lot of things.

Meanwhile, click on the links below to learn about some reports of working conditions at Amazon:

Workers at Delivery Services contracting to Amazon claim deplorable conditions

Amazon Execs Admit "Employee Cages was a bad idea"

With AI coming on the scene and more disruption on the way from Amazon, the decision to pay all workers a minimum of $15 should have been easy.

If you work for Amazon in Kentucky, you're feeling great today.  If you are based in California, you're probably asking "where's mine?"  If you work for a contractor of Amazon in delivery, it doesn't impact you.

Amazon's going to have the same PR issues as Wal-Mart did within 2 to 5 years.

This move made perfect sense.  Way to get ahead of the coming storm, Amazon.

 

 


Elon Musk Knows How to Embarrass/Frame Talent Leaving for a Competitor..

It's been a tough couple of weeks for an iconic leader in America - Elon Musk.

First, he tweeted/floated an idea for taking Tesla public and may face securities fraud charges as a result.  Then he had a rapper over to the house that started live tweeting a bunch of stuff that was unflattering and the beef continues.

But you know what's going well for Musk?  Embarrassing employees who are jumping to Apple (the companies are infamous Musk2 for training development and design talent) by tagging them all a certain way.  Consider this:

"We always jokingly call Apple the 'Tesla Graveyard.' If you don't make it at Tesla, you go work at Apple. I'm not kidding," Musk told German newspaper Handelsblatt in 2015.

CNBC reports that Apple is on a current hiring spree, poaching "scores" of ex-Tesla employees for a variety of projects, citing better pay at the iPhone giant.

If Tesla was doing an Employer Value Proposition (EVP) study, two of the themes would undoubtedly be "we work on the bleeding edge" and "everyone here is all in".

Then culturally, Musk and his direct reports do what they do - framing defections to a world class company/competitor for talent as the "lazy people" or "not good enough to work here".

Love it or hate it, it's an aggressive approach you can learn from.  Our body language and framing when people leave our companies tends to be too passive.

Play offense when talking about turnover.


EMAIL + WORK: We Need Tags Like "Facts", "Opinions" and "Danger"

Most of us have been overwhelmed by email at work.  Even though the advent of the smart phone has made it easier to keep up, it's been pointed out that the digital leash this provides is of questionable value.

When you really think about it, the contrast of traditional Outlook Exchange and Gmail provides a pretty good backdrop for what's possible.  Outlook is clunky, hard to personalize and not very flexible, but it wins a lot of users because it's the defacto choice for the enterprise.  Gmail, on the other hand, has become the defacto choice for everyone else who doesn't have an email choice forced on them by the company.

Gmail features like enhanced search and tagging provide flexibility Outlook can't match.  A recent product annoucement for Google News got me thinking about what else is possible with email.  More from TechCrunch on advanced tagging:

"Today Google added a new “fact-check” tag to its popular Google News service. The site aggregates popular timely news from multiple sources and has traditionally grouped them with tags like “opinion,” “local source” and “highly cited.” Now readers can see highlighted fact-checks right next to trending stories.

The company cites the growing prominence of fact-checking sites as one of the reasons for creating the tag. Content creators will be able to add the new fact-check tag to posts themselves using a finite set of pre-defined source labels.  

ClaimReview from Schema.org will be used to compile and organize stories offering factual background. The Schema community builds markups for structured data on the internet. The group is sponsored by Google but also has support from Microsoft, Yahoo and Yandex."

The fact that tags are in play everywhere got me thinking.  Why can't email be smarter related to the type of email that's flowing into our work inbox hundreds of times per week?  Gmail already has transcended what's possible in Outlook by sorting emails into tags that include "primary/social/promotions" and delivering those types of emails into separate inboxes.

What would help us for work-related to emails?  I'm thinking tags that would separate our non-junk emails into three primary groups:

--Facts - Similar in some aspects to the Google News feature, this would use smart technology to determine an email is an attempt to educate with facts of some type with limited opinion added to it.  We all get emails that are fact-based and designed to be consumed when we have time.  This would be the tag for those data dumps.

--Opinions - This email tag would tell us that an email contains primarily opinion about something in the workplace.  There might be facts in the background, but this email type would tell us that someone or a group is providing their opinion about a topic.  Let's face it, these are the most interesting to us.

--Danger - The most valuable of all my proposed tags, I'd love to see smart technology sift through the emails and tag the ones that cross a danger threshold, telling me I really need to consider the way I respond.  This would sniff out email chains related to my work, a boss or skip level exec who's emotional about something in my wheelhouse, or people I've responded to a in less than optimal way in the past.

It's probably time that email becomes smart and helps us figure out what to prioritize and when more caution/rigor is necessary.

What did I miss?  A "hot take" tag?  A "crazy" tag?  You tell me.


Must Listen Interview: Robert Hohman of Glassdoor...

You hate Glassdoor. Check.

You can't get your good employees to rate you on Glassdoor. Understood.

Are you done? Can I move on?  Ok, finish your tweet - I'll wait.

Look, I know Glassdoor is a sticky issue. But it's a reality in our world.  You might as well seek to understand it.

That's why this interview with Robert Hohman, co-founder and CEO of Glassdoor, is a great listen.  Hohman appeared on Recode/Decode, a podcast hosted by Kara Swisher, one of the strongest female figures in Silicon Valley and the business world.

One to the things you'll learn in the podcast is that Hohman was part of the early team at Expedia, and the goal of that team was to bring more transparency to the travel industry.  After the team gradually left that company after being purchased by Hotwire, Hohman and people on that team looked for other industries that needed more transparency. 

Guess what came up on that list? Careers and a look inside companies - and Glassdoor was born.

Other team members found similar opportunities elsewhere - a Expedia teammate of Hohman's disrupted real estate and founded Zillow.

Regardless of how you feel about Glassdoor, throw this podcast on on the drive home. Hohman is engaging, educational about the thought process behind Glassdoor and insightful about the research the company has on our workplaces.  (email subscribers click through if you don't see the player below)


Mindfulness and Meditation Might Be Bad For Your Company...

There's a great scene in the movie The Matrix i'll use as the intro to talking about mindfulness.  It goes something like this - one of the machines (Agent Smith) has captured the leader of the human resistance, and he can't help but taunt his prisoner (Morpheus) about how stupid the human race is.  The quote is as follows:

"Did you know that the first Matrix (editors note - this is the software program the human minds are plugged into as prisoners) was designed to be a perfect human world where none suffered, where everyone would be happy? It was a disaster. No one would accept the program, entire crops were lost. Some believed that we lacked the programming language to describe your perfect world, but I believe that as a species that human beings define their reality through misery and suffering. So the perfect world was a dream that your primitive cerebrum kept trying to wake up from. Which is why the Matrix was redesigned to this, the peak of your civilization. I say "your civilization" because as soon as we started thinking for you, it really became our civilization which is, of course what this is all about."

Translation - there can be a lot of unintended consequences to what seems like the right thing to do. Smith

So let's talk about mindfulness and meditation. I haven't been bitten by the bug, but I've actually been at conferences where someone asked the question if they could force people to use the meditation rooms at her company.

I'm not joking. 

Mindfulness and meditation are hot topics/trends in the cutting edge of corporate America.  There are a lot of people experimenting with this.  We accept through research that this is good for our employees (I'm assuming, I don't have research to quote), but we've never really asked if it's good for the company or even the employee's career.  Hmm.

A new study digs into that question. More from the BBC:

"Meditation has long shed its Buddhist roots to become a secular answer to all of our ills in the West, with numerous studies finding benefits like reduced stress and better concentration.

Some of the world’s biggest firms, including Google and Nike, have embraced the practice, using meditation programmes as a way of tackling stress, staff turnover and absenteeism.

Meditation is also used as a tool to motivate workers, partly thanks to research on the relationship between wellbeing and productivity. But a new study suggests that mindfulness meditation, a popular type of meditation that practises being aware in the present, may not be the best way to increase your motivation at work."

That's the level set for the research.  Here's what the study found about mindfulness meditation, which is a flavor you''ll encounter on your journey if you explore the sector of meditation:

“Meditation is about accepting the present, which is the opposite to being motivated to do something, where the present moment isn’t acceptable, so meditation is inconsistent with being motivated to achieving a goal,” argues Kathleen Vohs, professor of marketing at the University of Minnesota and co-author of the study.  

Vohs enlisted hundreds of participants to test her theory across five studies. In the first, 109 participants were given audio instructions in common mindfulness meditation techniques by a meditation coach. A comparison group were asked to simply let their minds wander.

After one 15-minute session, all participants were asked to tackle some simple tasks including doing an anagram puzzle and editing a cover letter. They were then asked how motivated they felt to carry on with the task.

Vohs, and her co-author Andrew Hafenbrack from the Católica Lisbon School of Business and Economics in Portugal, found that the self-reported motivation levels of those who had meditated were lower than the control group, though their performance of the task wasn’t affected. The meditators also had fewer thoughts about the future, which the researchers said could interrupt the behavioural processes that contribute to achieving goals.

“The Western world, Americans in particular, love a panacea,” she says. “If mindfulness meditation came in a pill form, we’d all be on top of it. It’s calorie-free, portable, it doesn’t cost anything, and it’s capitalised onto you sitting down and doing nothing. To think the antidote to what ails you is to ‘just be’ is probably a welcome message, but it’s pure speculation.”

Meditation is a fast-growing industry – in 2018 meditation services are expected to generate $1.15bn for the US economy, according to IBISWorld’s Alternative Healthcare Providers in the US industry report – and Vohs’ message is an unusual one amid a generally positive tide.

Another study from Germany and the Netherlands that looked at mindfulness in the workplace, meanwhile, found participants reported improved wellbeing and lower stress levels, but didn’t look at motivation. 

So, the picture is mixed and, according to Desbordes, compounded by confusion over what mindfulness actually is. Some mindfulness teachers, she says, teach the importance of putting your daily suffering aside to achieve a new level of consciousness, whereas others advocate gaining insight into these challenges and how to improve them; two very conflicting approaches."

Look, I'm just a kid from the Midwest who lived in a blue collar household growing up.  

Am I skeptical of meditation and mindfulness?  Yes.  Am I open to learning more? Yes - and I have an app on my phone as proof I know I should be exploring this more.

But the article referenced above is a cautionary tale to me.  Agent Smith had to make the Matrix less than perfect to get the results the machines wanted.  Mindfulness Meditation might put your employees so much as ease that they're more mellow than you'd like them to be about goals.

The truth and the right solution is out there somewhere - but you're going to have to invest a lot of time to find it - and to ensure you don't get unintended consequences from your meditation program.

(h/t to Jenny Briggs for the article referenced, she's one of the best Human Capital pros I know!!)

 


When Employees Challenge Others to Step Up or Get Out...

The Cleveland Browns (pro football) are bad.  HBO has a show called "Hard Knocks", which embeds cameras at a training camp of one team each year.  This year, they are on campus with the Browns.

The hope, of course, is that the organizational dumpster fire that is the Cleveland Browns will provide notable moments.

Look, kids!  The Browns are doing it to themselves!  Those lovable losers!! Jarvis

Good news - Hard Knocks at the Browns started us off with a notable human capital moment.  More from the Ringer:

"After a particularly disappointing practice where Jarvis Landry and Hue Jackson were visibly frustrated with the effort of Cleveland’s pass catchers, Jarvis Landry asked whether he could address the receivers room.

“Fellas, I don’t know what the f**k is going on here, and I don’t know why it’s been going on here,” Landry says, “But if you not hurt, like your hamstring ain’t falling off the f**king bone, or your leg ain’t broke, I don’t even know, you should be f**king practicing. Straight up. That sh*t is weakness, and that shit is contagious as f**k. And that sh*t ain’t gonna be in this room, bruh. That sh*t been here in the past and that’s why the past has been like it is. That sh*t is over with here.”

The words land because Landry, who the team acquired in a trade this offseason and signed to a five-year extension with $47 million guaranteed, spends the episode walking the walk. His workouts include catching medicine balls one-handed while balancing on a Bosu ball with one foot, which explains why his dazzling one-handed catches look so effortless. In practice, Landry’s aggressive work ethic routinely rises above the other players on the field. Every catch he makes is inevitably punctuated by “bless you,” which he delivers with a sincerity that is more effective than actual trash-talking."

Sorry about the language.  But it's notable in that Landry is coming into an organization as an employee, knows what he's walking into isn't world class, and is trying to change the culture.

If my career managing people has taught me anything, it's that change agents are needed.  Some thoughts about change agents who come into organizations with statements and challenges like Landry - and what has to be present for them to be successful:

1--Change Agents who are highly verbal and challenging must perform at a high level.

2--The same change agents must mentor others, rather than simply dressing people down verbally.

3--In order for the change agent to be successful, managers and the company must support those efforts and embrace the cause, removing people who don't get on the bus of change.

In short, Jarvis better perform, should use the development of others in positive terms as a leader for an equally powerful statement as a change agent, and the organization (the Browns) should be ready to move people out - if they believe that Jarvis Landry represents their view of what the future is.

The same thing applies to your company - except your change agents can't get that many F-bombs in.

 


Older Workers and Unconscious Bias...

I did a post over at Fistful of Talent last week on older workers, unconscious bias and a new org attempting to represent older workers call I, Too, Am Qualified.  Here's a snippet of the post, hit FOT for the whole thing:

"Why is better understanding of unconscious bias a good thing for older workers?  Mainly because it transcends what is merely legal and seeks to connect on a higher plane.  The key to getting better treatment in the recruiting world for older candidates is inclusion in the concept of unconscious bias as it gains traction, which goes something like this for your average hiring manager:

1--I'm a good person.

2--I'm a horrible person because I have bias I'm not even aware of.

3--I shall correct this unconscious bias by giving impacted groups of people more play than my mind is telling me too.

4--Did I mention I'm a good person?

5--I made a hire from an impacted group of people as a form of self-correction, and I'll be damned, that ended up pretty good.

6--I'm going to keep looking to hire people from groups of impacted candidates since that went well.

7--Told you I was a great person.  I'm not even sure I was part of that whole unconscious bias thing.  Other people, though? Heathens...

Go take a look and support I, Too, Am Qualified.  You'll know they (and others like them) are winning when we include age in the unconscious bias narrative."

Go hit Fistful of Talent to get the whole post!


Administrative Leave Means You're Already Gone - Urban Meyer Edition...

Well, I heard some people talkin' just the other day
And they said you were gonna put me on a shelf
But let me tell you I got some news for you
And you'll soon find out it's true...

-"Already Gone" by the Eagles

------------------------------------

I think I've written about people being put on administrative leave before - but I'm reminded of it on the news that Ohio State put football coach Urban Meyer on Paid Administrative Leave this week.  Meyer is currently looking at the kitchen walls at home as his phone blows up, based the school announcing it is investigating Courtney Smith's claims that several people close to Meyer knew of a 2015 allegation of domestic violence against her ex-husband, former Ohio State assistant football coach Zach Smith, who was fired in July.

This post isn't about college football.  It's about the use of Administrative Leave, usually of the paid variety.

Paid Administrative Leave means the following things:

1--Whatever you're accused of is too damn hot to allow you to remain in the workplace.

2--Your employer believes that you likely did enough (or didn't do enough for leadership positions) on the issue in question to warrant your eventual termination.

3--Administrative Leave is a form of action your employer can point to as taking action while they actually investigate what happened on the issue in question.

4--YOU ARE UNLIKELY TO COME BACK FROM ADMINISTRATIVE LEAVE.

Got it? Great.  Let's dig into #4 above a bit.  It's a tough pill to swallow for some.

YOU ARE UNLIKELY TO COME BACK FROM ADMINISTRATIVE LEAVE.

Your employer put you out because they believed there was a high probability your investigation would end in a termination.

But for every day you are out, your career expertise and power, as well as your ability to return to your job, decreases in a dramatic way.  That stinks. It's like a game of Fortnite where you have a power level for an individual.  You're getting whacked hard every day you are out, and the players in the game all see your power level after a week of being out and determine it's only a matter of time before you're out of the game.  This perception makes it hard for you to survive and come back off of paid administrative leave.

That stinks because sometimes you're innocent.  The good news for most people who will read this is that their process would be nowhere near as public as Urban Meyer.

If you're confronted with an allegation, do what you can to avoid being placed on leave.  Offer to take vacation, personal days and generally get out of the way.  Avoid the tag of Administrative Leave if you can.

Oh yeah, be sure to take action on people who do bad things and shouldn't be part of the company.  Don't protect people you like who do stupid things.  Don't do stupid things.  These are all viable options to avoid administrative leave.


Let's Break Down the Korean Gate Agent Claim Vs. Delta Airlines...

In case you missed it last week, four former Seattle-based Delta Air Lines employees filed a lawsuit against the company, saying they were fired for speaking Korean.

The old saying I have as an HR leader goes something like this: In America, allegations are free.  You've got the right to bring claims forward. Many people do. Some of those claims are 100% true.  A lot of the claims are afterthought allegations, with the real reasons for terminations being business-related.  Sometimes, the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Delta gate agents

This is what we pay the HR generalist (at all levels) with employee relations responsibilities for.  Bigger companies have ER specialists that serve as the gatekeepers for situations that involve terminations.

So let's look at the reported facts of the Delta/Korean worker lawsuit and handicap what's going on from an employee relations perspective.

In other words to my good readers: HR, DO YOUR JOB.  Analysis after the jump for your comments, rundown courtesy of wire reports and The Hill:

"Four former Delta Air Lines employees filed a lawsuit against the company, saying they were fired for speaking Korean.

Ji-Won Kim, Lilian Park, Jean Yi and Jongjin An worked as desk and gate agents for the airline at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, which has daily Delta flights to South Korea.

The four Korea-born women claim in the lawsuit that they were “singled out and admonished” for speaking Korean. Three of the four women are U.S. citizens.

Yi told Seattle TV station KIRO 7 that Korean-speaking passengers who weren't fluent in English felt more comfortable speaking with her at the airport.

One of the plaintiffs said a manager told her that airline employees who didn't speak Korean had complained and asked her to “limit speaking Korean.”

The women, who were all fired in May 2017, claim in the lawsuit that other foreign language–speaking employees were not asked to limit their non-English communications.

The company said the four women were terminated for "offering unauthorized upgrades," according to the lawsuit. The women say the upgrades were standard, particularly for oversold flights, and that other agents who engaged in the same practices were not fired.

An attorney for the women said it is also possible that their firings were related to their reporting of sexual harassment — all four claimed that they were sexually harassed by the same male employee, who is still working for the airline.

A Delta spokesperson told KIRO 7 in a statement that the airline “does not tolerate workplace discrimination or harassment of any kind” and that the allegations against the male employee were “found to be without merit.”

"These former employees were unfortunately but appropriately terminated because the company determined they violated ticketing and fare rules,” the spokesperson said. “Delta is confident that these claims will ultimately be determined to be without merit."

This kind of makes me miss being heavily involved in employee relations issues that can ultimately end up in legal action. Delta's got a solid case if the following elements are present behind the scenes, deep down in the guts of the employee relations file of this case.  Follow me and tell me what I'm missing in the comments.  Delta has a good position IF:

1--There was a clear progressive path related to the the group of 4 employees violating ticketing and fare rules.  Were they warned prior to being termed?  If so, Delta's in great shape.  If they weren't warned, it's a little more mucky.

2--Delta has a clean history of terming similar employees for ticketing and fare rules violation across multiple Title 7 areas - gender, national origin, etc. If there's not solid history across Title 7 classes, it's mucky.

3--The Harassment issue has a full investigation file (I say that in general terms) and whoever brought that to Delta's attention got closure from the appropriate Delta person and they can show it was investigated to an appropriate level.

4--The speaking Korean issue is a bit dicey.  This group of employees was valued for their language skills, so this request is interesting and problematic.  How did the group use Korean when it wasn't a business necessity?  You have to assume they used it to talk to each other and other employees felt on the outside as a result.  Is that worth a conversation?  Maybe.  A lot of merits of this comes down to what was said in the conversation, the timing of it vs. the decision to term, if similar conversations happened with other language groups who weren't termed, etc.  

What did I miss?  LMK.  

The biggest item for consideration here is #1 and #2.  If the employees making the claim were warned before being termed and the company has a history of terming employees for upgrade/ticketing/fare rule violations, Delta is in pretty good shape.  

If #1 and #2 is murky at best, #3 and #4 come into play to a larger degree.

Good HR/employee relations practices (which I'm sure exist to a large degree at Delta) require lots of discipline.  The merits of each case really come down to the level of discipline a company shows.  And if you were wondering, a quick google search shows gate agents are non-unionized at Delta.

HR, do your job.

 


WeWork's New Vegetarian Policy for Employees and Company Events: The Market Will Decide...

We live in a world where business owners can make political/moral/society statements and force those world views on their employees - especially if their companies are privately held.  On the conservative side of the aisle, we've seen businesses stand up for their right to not offer birth control as part of their health plan, and we've seen owners on both the conservative and liberal sides of the spectrum put pressure on employees to vote in elections according to the owner's views.

Add a new one to to the list.  WeWork wants you to know that eating meat isn't cool - and they're changing their business practice to reflect that.   We work

More from USA Today:

If WeWork employees want a burger while on business, the money is coming out of their own pockets. The global workplace startup told employees this week that the company will ban employees from expensing meals that contain red meat, pork or poultry, Bloomberg reported.

The company won't provide meat for events at its 400 locations, either — part of an effort to reduce its environmental footprint.

"New research indicates that avoiding meat is one of the biggest things an individual can do to reduce their personal environmental impact, even more than switching to a hybrid car," WeWork co-founder Miguel McKelvey said in an email to staffers.

The no-meat policy will also affect self-serve food kiosks at many of WeWork's 400 locations worldwide, according to Bloomberg. Employees wanting "medical or religious" exceptions can hash those out with a company policy team.

WeWork boasts 6,000 employees worldwide, according to Bloomberg. The company estimates its no-meat policy will save 15,507,103 animals by 2023, according to Business Insider, along with 16.6 billion gallons of water and 445.1 million pounds of carbon dioxide, the heat-trapping gas that alters Earth's climate.

WeWork confirmed the policy change to both news outlets. WeWork is perhaps the most well-known company to emerge offering co-working spaces to freelancers, small businesses and even employees of large companies such as Microsoft. The Motley Fool named it one of the top five most valuable startups in America.

It would be easy to blast this policy, but I'm actually OK with companies making these kind of stands - both on the liberal and conservative side of the fence.

So WeWork won't allow employees to expense a meal involving meat and it won't serve meat at WeWork facilities as part of it's events business.  

Ok!  You know who decides whether WeWork is wrong?  Not you and me.  No, the people who decide whether WeWork has lost its mind are what I'll call "the aggregate."  It all comes down to whether this policy hurts WeWork as two groups consider it for business purposes:

1--Candidates and employees. I can't expense a chicken taco.  Does that make me want to avoid you as an employer? Does it make me want to leave you as an employee?  Ask that question 20,000 times in the next year and if a significant amount of people can't accept the policy and leave or don't join the company to begin with.

2--Companies who want to host events in a WeWork facility.  Same question.  Love your space, going to host my get together at WFW (we <expletive>work).  Wait, what?  I can't cater the brisket through you?  No?  I cam't have someone else cater that in?  Hmm.  Where do I go that can provide that?  Is their space just as good?

At the end of the day, WeWork is standing up for something the founders believe in.  The market will decide.  If I was selling against them, I'd use it to negatively sell every chance I got.

By the way, there is a loophole in the policy - fish is still allowed.  Because you know, not all animals have the same set of rights. 

Sorry, couldn't resist.