Amazon Employees (BHM1) Crush Union - 10 Things You Need to Know...

I’ll start this post with what should be obvious. Twitter’s not the real world, and neither is today’s version of the news. There are extremes on both sides of the news industry and what you read is likely to be more Op/Ed than true reporting. It takes real work to find true reporting these days.

A related issue is the unwillingness of normal people to share their thoughts and beliefs on any news topic of relevance in the world for fear of one side—generally the left these days—looking to shame the source for any thought not believed to be progressive enough.

It starts with dialog on race (hard topic coming off of 2020) but has spread like wildfire to other areas.

Simply put, the world needs all of us to be vocal when we can add value.

Which brings me to the topic of this post. Amazon

For months now, we’ve heard about organized labor (known as unions to the layperson) bringing justice and representation to Amazon workers at an Amazon Distribution Facility in Bessemer (Birmingham), AL. (In the case of the Amazon vote, the union in question was the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, which I’ll simply refer to as the “union” from this point forward.)

 Last week, employees at that Amazon Distribution Facility voted “no” to that union representing them. 

But they didn’t just say “no”. Based on the numbers and the circumstances, the employees actually said, “HELL NO” (all caps to express the sentiment).

What’s been represented by the mainstream media over the past 4-5 months related to this union campaign is very different than the outcome. Due to that, I wanted to share some things that I want my HR, Recruiting, Talent and Business leader friends, who haven’t had much experience with organized labor, to know about the Amazon union drive in Bessemer/Birmingham and about organizing activity in general.

Before we get it into it, let me say this: every employee deserves an opportunity to earn a great living based on their performance. They deserve a safe environment that respects all people and provides maximum opportunity to all, regardless of race, gender, orientation and any other identifier.

If a union is the best option for a group of employees (because the company has failed), so be it. 

But a union wasn’t the best option for workers at the Amazon DC in Bessemer, AL, regardless of the pounding on the topic that happened from politicians and the media.

Let’s dig in and understand why something we were told was great (employees saying “yes” to a union at Amazon) was met with such strong opposition by an incredibly diverse set of Amazon employees in the Birmingham area. 

Buckle up, friends—this is a long one but an important one.

HERE ARE THE 10 THINGS I WANT YOU TO KNOW ABOUT THE UNION ORGANIZING PROCESS AT AMAZON (BESSEMER DISTIRUBTION CENTER):

1—Let’s start with the basic of how union organizing works, shall we?

The process of organizing generally works like this: a limited number of employees at any company are dissatisfied and reach out to a union organization wondering about representation. A process is followed, and if there’s enough interest, an election is held asking employees at the location/unit inside the company if they want the union to represent them.

If employees vote no, things remain as is. If the employees vote yes (simple majority is all that is needed), collective bargaining (negotiation) starts between the company and the union to create an agreement on all employment stipulations. There are 100 more things experts could tell you about this process, but let’s keep this high-level to make sure you’ve got the base.

Got it? Great.

2—The Union Organizing process at the Amazon DC had a lot of friends on the left, including POTUS, most mainstream media, Hollywood and more. 

Most of the people listed above assumed what they wanted to happen (employees vote “yes” to bring in the union) would happen based on the narrative they were building. It didn’t.

Article after article has covered the Amazon union vote as a watershed moment for workers, the left, and for organized labor. Most coverage cited hard working conditions in an Amazon DC as being unfair to workers. Is that true? You’ll have to dig in to the results to understand what the workers thought. But the media coverage was unrelenting over the past couple of months and was easily a 90/10 split—90% of articles talking in glowing terms about the union movement, etc. and only 10% actually doing reporting.

To increase the pressure, the POTUS was active, making the following statement.

"Today and over the next few days and weeks workers in Alabama - and all across America - are voting on whether to organize a union in their workplace. This is vitally important - a vitally important choice," he said.

"There should be no intimidation, no coercion, no threats, no anti-union propaganda. No supervisor should confront employees about their preferences."

More to come on that statement, because, as it turns out, unions and the employees who are pro-union have all the opportunity in the world to do exactly what Biden is talking about—pressure and coerce employees—as part of the process. We never hear about that.

And, of course, others weighed in. Bernie Sanders came to Birmingham (Bessemer is in the Birmingham, AL metro) to show solidarity with the workers and apply pressure. Entertainment stars piped in with their support, and some even came to Birmingham to support the union.

3—It’s probably warranted to talk a bit more about the organizing process that a union follows to get to an employee vote to give you more context.

I told you earlier that a union organizing process starts with a limited number of employees at any company being dissatisfied and reaching out to a union organization to ask about representation. Let’s keep adding to those notes.

My experience—and I hold it to be true—is that it’s never the high performers in any company who initiate inquiries about unions. High performers are almost always comfortable with a meritocracy and aren’t open to paying a % of their compensation in union dues. To be fair though, inquiries about unions can begin from departments inside companies with horrific managers. In addition, companies with high performance quotas like Amazon can sometimes incite some normal to high performers to consider union representation as well.

Once the call comes into the union, meetings are held away from work between that small group of employees and union organizers to discuss the issues. If the union sees opportunity, they will seek to invite more people to meetings to continue the evaluation process.

Once the union decides the opportunity is strong enough to warrant the additional effort, something called authorization cards are introduced, which ask employees to sign saying that they are interested in the union representing them. In order for a union to have enough cards to present to the NLRB (National Labor Relations Board) and get a union election inside the company, they have to have at least 30% of employees within the “unit” in question sign the card.

4—Most unions want 50-70% of employees to sign authorization cards before presenting to the NLRB, because they understand many of the cards will be signed under duress and employees will flip back to the company side.

Here’s how asking for a card works in many circumstances. A pro-union employee will approach their colleagues and friends, give a little elevator speech about the unfairness on the company side and ask the person in front of them to sign the card as a signal that “you’re with us/me.”

At that point, the person being solicited has a choice: they can sign the card or not. As you might expect, many sign the card to avoid conflict with the pro-union person in front of them. Sounds awesome, right? When Joe Biden said workers should be able to make their decision about union representation without interference from the company, he fails to mention this form of coercion on the union side. That’s really weak.

5—The reason most organizing campaigns never get to a vote is because employees who don’t care for union representation get wind of the secret card signings going on and report it to the company in question.

Names for these employees reporting the presence of cards in the workplace range from “fink” to “hero” depending on your side of this. But once it’s reported that there are authorization cards in the workplace, most companies ramp up their training on what unions are and begin other union avoidance activities. More to follow on this in a bit.

6—Let’s talk about the result at this point.  The union got absolutely crushed in this thing. CRUSHED.

A union needs a simple majority of voting employees in order to win an election and earn the right to represent the employees unit. 50% plus one vote.

If you believed the media reports in the two months leading up to the Amazon DC union election, you either thought it was going to be a close election or it was a foregone conclusion the union would win.

The union got absolutely CRUSHED in this election by Amazon employees in the Bessemer DC.

Here are the results:

  • Total eligible voters – 5,876
  • Voided ballots – 76
  • Number of votes cast for the Union (RWDSU) – 738
  • Number of votes cast against Union – 1798
  • Number of challenged ballots – 505 (roughly 300 challenged by Amazon, 200 by the union)
  • Number of employees not casting a ballot – 2,759

Amazon’s statement on the vote pointed out that only 16% of employees at the Bessemer DC voted “yes” to the union. Amazon also correctly positioned the result: it wasn’t a win for Amazon (although it was); it was an overwhelming decision made by real employees with real jobs—and probably very few active Twitter accounts.

It should be noted that almost half of the employees in the defined unit (in this case, that’s the entire distribution center) did not vote in the election. Not voting in this election is in all practical purposes a “No” vote.

The union and organized labor got crushed by this outcome.

7—Amazon was helped by expanding the number of voters in the election. This is called defining and expanding the “unit” in any union election.

Here’s another thing to know about the Amazon outcome. When unions get the initial call from a disgruntled employee, they only want work units that maximize their chances of winning an election. This reality means that unions want to keep scope small. Better to keep the group small and win an election than expand the size and lose is the practical thinking.

A common employer strategy is to expand the size of the group voting on whether to be represented by the union. It’s counterintuitive to think employers would want to put more people at risk of being organized, but the bigger the group, the harder it is for pro-union pockets to have influence.

The NLRB hears arguments on this topic and provides rulings on the appropriate scope of a unit for any organizing process/election. For the most part, common locations or work units are the most frequent rationale in expanding the size of the unit that will vote yes/no on whether they want to be represented by the union in question.

One of the things I’ve read in the media was that when the union presented the authorization cards to the NLRB, they assumed the size of the workforce was 1,500 workers. Amazon responded that it was 5,000+, which meant the union had to go out and get more cards to get to 30%. It’s never a good sign when the union in question isn’t aware of the employee count at a facility.

A lot of workers are going to sign the cards under the “you’re with us, right?” peer pressure. Let’s assume the union needed 1,800 cards (30% of 5,876) to get to 30% (after they incorrectly assumed the facility size was 1,500 employees). They ended up with 738 votes in the election. Ponder that. Then add the fact that this whole union vote was conducted over a two- month period via mail-in ballot.

That means that 1,800 employees signed a card when someone rolled up on them and asked them to, but only 58% of them (I added the 300 votes Amazon challenged to the 738 for this math) followed through and mailed in their ballot.

Let all that that sink in. Then think about the pressure the union side puts on an employee to get an authorization card signed based on those numbers. But sure, employers are the only problem in this equation. LOL.

8—It’s obvious that the employees at the Amazon DC voted in a way that suggests for many that working for Amazon is one of the best jobs they’ve had related to pay, benefits, etc.

Only 16% of employees at the Amazon Distribution Center in Bessemer voted “yes” to union representation. The other 84% voted “No” or couldn’t be bothered to vote in such an election.

Why did 84% vote “No” or abstain in supporting a union? There are multiple reasons for this. First up, employees voting “No” or abstaining from voting indicates that they didn’t believe union representation to be in their best interest. They voted for a direct relationship with their supervision and Amazon over union representation.

Another reason for the blowout win is that the jobs in question are pretty good jobs. Consider the following rundown from Yellowhammer:

“On top of Amazon’s $15 minimum wage, the company offers industry-leading benefits to full-time employees, which include comprehensive health care from day one, 401(k) with 50% match, up to 20 weeks paid parental leave and Amazon’s innovative Career Choice program, which pre-pays 95% of tuition for courses in high-demand fields. Since the program’s launch four years ago, more than 25,000 employees have pursued degrees in game design and visual communications, nursing, IT programming and radiology, just to name a few.”

Add base wages, OT, benefits and more, and you’re suddenly looking at a job worth 45-50K+ that grows over time. Amazon is already one of the best-paying jobs a non-skilled laborer can get in Alabama.

A diverse employee base at the Amazon Distribution Center trusted that more than they trusted the union in question.

9—After this result, the Biden administration and the media will push the narrative that employees were influenced in an unethical way by Amazon and will use that as a narrative to push through new laws and NLRB rules. Don’t believe it, remember “FOE”

Scan the news and you already see this: complaints about interference from Amazon in the union election process are widespread. For the uninitiated, the law and NLRB rules and regulations protect the employer’s right to be proactive in telling their side of the story to employees during a time period known as the “campaign period.”

During this period, employers can hold mandatory/captive meetings where they can share their thoughts on why voting “Yes” for union representation is a bad thing. Simply put, employers can provide “FOE” (Facts, Opinions and Experiences) but cannot engage in “TIPS” activity (Threaten, Interrogate, Pressure or Surveil).

The Biden administration will use the Amazon outcome as a proxy for why employers should be limited in telling their FOE-based perspectives and will attempt to change the law and NLRB rules and regulations as a result.

Don’t believe it? Remember that unions conduct their initial activities in secret and routinely use pro-union employees to pressure peers to sign authorization cards (no secret ballot in that!) that lead to elections.

Amazon said in a statement that “the union will say that Amazon won this election because we intimidated employees, but that’s not true.”

“Our employees heard far more anti-Amazon messages from the union, policymakers, and media outlets than they heard from us,” the company said. “And Amazon didn’t win — our employees made the choice to vote against joining a union.”

The union got blown out in this one. Companies should be able to tell their story on such an important topic before the employee base votes.

10—To really blow your mind, consider the fact that this election was held 100% by mail-in voting due to COVID. Let’s dig in on what opportunity that provides for a union attempting to organize.

My friends, consider this. NLRB-sanctioned union votes are generally held in similar fashion to pre-COVID federal and state elections. Employees go to a polling place run by the NLRB and vote in secret-ballot fashion. It’s on lockdown.

The union vote for the Amazon Distribution Center in Bessemer was held over a two-month period via mail-in voting. Let that sink in—a distribution center where the work is 100% on site (no remote employees) was allowed to do 100% mail-in voting for a union vote. Amazon protested this (rightfully so) and lost its challenge.

What does mail-in voting mean? It means the union in question had the opportunity (if they opted to or asked pro-union employees to act as proxies) to approach employees, ask them to complete their mail in votes (pro-union of course) and offer to drop the ballots in the mail for the employee. It basically offered the same opportunity for influence, pressure and more in the voting process that I described earlier when pro-union employees approach their peers for a signed authorization card in the stage before a vote.

Still, only 16% of employees voted for the union. Crazy.

THE BIG FINISH

I know about 100 people who know more than I do about unions, organizing efforts by unions and strategies to remain union-free on the company side.

But none of those people feel like they can share their expertise publicly. Why?

Because all of them fear being attacked by the digital mob.

That’s where we’re at in America in 2021. Good people with great knowledge and a perspective the world needs to hear won’t share their expertise on a variety of topics for fear of being cancelled, shamed or—God forbid—being called a Republican.

The Amazon union vote is a great reminder that the vast majority of America isn’t aligned with the extremes—on either the right or the left. They’re simply looking for opportunity that they didn’t have last year, and when someone treats them fairly—even if the work is really hard—most Americans are going to be very skeptical of someone telling them it’s a bad thing.

As for me, I’m going to try to be less fearful of the digital mob moving forward. I’m going to try and write and have conversations that respect how the vast majority of America thinks.

To the Amazon employees in the Bessemer Distribution Center: congratulations on the outcome that left no doubt on what the vast majority of you value, and thanks for the reminder that at the end of the day, we all need to be less afraid of speaking the truth on a day-to-day basis.


Work From Home: What Happens When COVID Fades in 2021?

REVOLUTION. Wait, maybe not.

If there's one overhyped thing about COVID, it's probably the revolution that's happening in workplaces and more importantly, the "location" of work. Read enough of Fast Company, Inc.com or whatever your flavor of progressive workplace trends is, and you'll swear that we'll soon have vacant office buildings everywhere.

That prediction is wrong for the following reasons:

1--Many jobs - including 100% professional grade positions - can't or won't be performed from a home office. These jobs are everywhere, and they include great careers in many professions (healthcare, retail, etc.)

2--Many companies and leaders value the impact of a team being together. That means that once the COVID fear has lifted, teams are getting back together in person more than you might think - as you put down that highlighted copy of Esquire about the 2020 revolution of work.

So what's the reality? How many jobs actually went from the office to home during the pandemic, and once this thing fades, are those jobs actually staying at home?

PRO TIP: If you want to get in the weeds about what happened and what's going to happen with Work from Home arrangements, cut through all the BS and start thinking about your total workforce and define the following - Paid Working Days at Home as a % of all Working Days.

Paid Working Days at Home as a % of all Working Days is your macro economic stat as an HR leader to measure this. Measuring it can be simple and hard at the same time. You basically need reporting or at the very least, estimates from across your workforce about who's working from home. Add it all up and apply your HR magic to it, and you get Paid Working Days at Home as a % of all Working Days.

I've been estimating work from home this way for awhile and it works. It takes you out of the anecdotal and into what's real. Rather than be caught in your bubble related to the professional grade positions around you as a leader, it forces you to think globally.

Now that we have a metric, what's actually going on out there in America related to work from home?  The Atlanta Fed does a great recurring piece of research called the Survey of Business Uncertainty (SBU) in conjunction with the University of Chicago and Stanford University. As a small part of this survey, they polled their business leaders and looked back at pre-COVID data and found the the following trends and realities about work from home across the USA (email subscribers, click through if you don't see the graph below:

Screen Shot 2021-02-24 at 9.06.32 AM

To summarize the chart and findings:

--During Covid, the total number of Paid Working Days at Home as a % of all Working Days multiplied by a factor of 4X+, moving from 5.5% to 23.7%. That's killer, right? But that still seems low to some of you reading this. 

--More importantly, the SBU finds that while Paid Working Days at Home as a % of all Working Days won't be going back to the pre-COVID level of 5.5%, with respondents estimating that Paid Working Days at Home as a % of all Working Days will settle back to 13.6% after the COVID pandemic ends.

To summarize - WFH days across organizations of all sizes multiplied by x4 during the pandemic, but the SBU estimates that we'll see WFH days be cut by 40% post-COVID.  Still, a gain of 2.5x from pre-COVID levels.

So significant gains for WFH, but not the revolution many expected or the sustained level of WFH we thought we would see.  Here's a chart from the SBU related to the numbers by industry. Note that it's easy to view your corporate office numbers in the Business Services segment, where Paid Working Days at Home as a % of all Working Days currently sits at 40%, but it is estimated to be going to 28% post pandemic. Feels about right.

Screen Shot 2021-02-24 at 9.07.02 AM

Most of this is common sense, but if you want to have a great post-COVID stat to add to your Talent Metrics Deck, Paid Working Days at Home as a % of all Working Days makes a lot of sense to show your Leadership Team you're on top of the trend and the workforce planning conversation related to COVID.


RESKILLING: A Good Idea That's Usually a Big Lie...

Let's have some real talk about a daring concept of the media, thought leaders and a bunch of other people who aren't on the ground level of running a business or an HR function.

Let's talk about Reskilling. First a definition:

Reskilling: The process of learning new skills so you can do a different job or of training people to do a different job. Drake

That description of reskilling works. We want people to be trained to do a different job as needed (if their current skills are obsolete), and there's basically two choices. We can rely on individuals to go get what they need, or we can create a program to give larger groups of people the training they need, which seems like an efficient way to get the right skills, to the people, who need them at the right time.

The concept and the intent are great instincts and it's a noble thought. Too bad that's where the practicality of reskilling ends.

Reskilling is hard—like riding a bike on the freeway hard, which is a favorite go-to line of my college basketball coach.

Why is reskilling a good idea on paper yet so hard to execute in real life?  Let's list the reasons:

1--Companies are the best option to reskill workers, but when it comes to the expense required, most companies can't/won't invest. Here's a test: The next time someone at your company wonders if reskilling is an option, ask them if they are willing to increase the training budget from $300 per FTE to $6,000 per FTE, with no guarantee of ROI. The consultants will say, "absolutely", at which point you need to invite them to give a presentation on this need and the cost to your C-suite—where they will either be shredded or treated politely but only to be ghosted after the meeting harder than a first date gone horribly bad.

No one denies reskilling is a great idea. But few with shareholder return responsibilities in the Corporate world can greenlight the cost associated with reskilling. The only company types that can/will realistically embark on a reskilling journey are the mega companies like Amazon that are facing a dramatic talent shortage in a specific area.  

For those types of companies, reskilling might work. But it rarely gets past its capable cost competitors vying for the chance to fill a skill gap—robots, automation, A.I. and offshoring.

2--Talent is mobile and there's no guarantee your reskilling will be rewarded with long-term retention.  Let's say you pull it off. You saw the need in your company and invested heavily in getting a cross-section of employees reskilled with relevant skills and get them the experience they need to be productive in the targeted roles in your company.

Congrats. You made it. You navigated significant execution risk and created a reskilling program that creates real results. It's wasn't easy, and you started from the bottom, and now you're here

On Tuesday of next week, you'll receive the award for innovation at your company.

On Thursday of next week, some smart recruiter outside your company makes a couple of calls and learns there's a class of 20 reskilled employees at your company with a hard-to-find skill she's been searching for without much success. Two months later, you've lost 6 of your original 20 Reskilled U. graduates who gave themselves a 30% pay increase by answering the recruiter's calls. Another 20% will be out the door in the next two months.

You've become an organ donor for the rich. Damn, didn't see that coming.

Always get payback agreements for inclusion in reskilling training, my friends.

3--Reskilling as an adult is hard, and it's hard to find willing participants for these types of programs.  The scenario that I would analyze reskilling to is the Tuition Aid Programs. As business leaders, we love to offer up Tuition Aid programs as a clear signal that we are fully invested in the career development of the people who work for us.

This just in; we can offer up to the max reimbursement allowed by the IRS for Tuition Aid Programs, because we know that only a small percentage of employees will take advantage of that benefit. Turns out, it's really hard to go back to school once you are past 25 years old because you are doing all that adulting stuff—starting families, hitting the gym after work, binging that C-level series on Amazon Prime Video, etc.

Oh yeah, the coursework is a giant pain in the ass too. 

Our experience with Tuition Aid tells us that the only way to make reskilling work is to not only cover the expense but to pay people to be a part of it as well which brings us back to point #1.

By the way, the sweet spot of reskilling probably exists in community colleges across the country, right?  Access to local folks who need to upskill to be relevant in the economy, a grass roots approach, etc. Community college reskilling programs seems like the perfect fit for our government getting involved in reskilling, but to maximize availability, they can't pay people for their time, they can only provide grants to cover the cost of the course. Thus the similarity to Tuition Aid. People have to keep working which makes reskilling hard to make time for. Only the most motivated and those in the perfect situation will be able to be focused on reskilling.

4--Add it all up, and it's easier to get better at recruiting and increase wages for roles with candidate shortages rather than reskill.  I hate to say it, but my advice to any well-meaning business leader interested in reskilling AND success/profitability is to focus on getting better at talent acquisition rather than reskilling.

When it comes to reskilling, you'll read a lot of things from high end sources—HBR, The New York Times and more—that suggest we must reskill for the future.

I don't disagree with the thought. But the people writing the features on reskilling don't work in the trenches, and they don't run companies. Out here in flyover country, it's a hard-knock life and we tend to work hard to remain profitable and not go out of business. Turns out, it's complicated.

KD out.

 


Pros and Cons of Florida Voting in the $15 Minimum Wage - It's Complicated...

By now, most of us have reached a steady state conceptually related to raising the minimum wage. Reasonable people can agree that we should pay people as close to a living wage as we possible can, right?

Then, of course, it all goes to hell.

Consider Florida's recent passage of Amendment 2 on Election Day 2022, which few are aware of and is going to shake things up in a big way.  A few details from the Wall Street Journal:

"Florida voters’ approval of a $15 minimum wage is fueling the hopes of advocates who aim to pass similar measures in other states, though still-elevated unemployment and lower costs of living in rural areas remain challenges.

More than 60% of Florida voters supported Amendment 2 this month, setting the state on a path to a $15-an-hour minimum wage by 2026. The measure’s success was notable because of Florida’s conservative leanings and the struggles its vital tourism industry, where many low-wage workers are employed, has faced this year as it dealt with the shutdowns and travel restrictions brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. Florida’s governor is a Republican, and voters there backed President Trump’s re-election bid."

States are starting to take things into their own hands as the Federal Minimum Wage sits at $7.25.  I promised you Pros and Cons, so here goes - for Florida, but it really applies to any state looking to elevate the minimum wage to $15.

PROS

--People at the lower end of the labor pool have a better chance to make it on one job.

--That's about it, which is important, BTW.

CONS AND S**T TO FIGURE OUT

--Everything else.

It blew my mind a bit to see Florida carry this 60/40 in November. It's one thing to say you're raising the minimum at Disney, which once the pandemic recedes, has pricing power and leverage over all the people who long to wear mouse ears and eat a big drumstick walking around the park. For everyone else, it's a bit of a sh*tshow from a business perspective.  

Here's my list of the biggest problems that business has to figure out - one that everyone knows and one that no one talks about.

1--Duh - It's a small business killer. Do the math for any owner of a Subway anywhere in Florida or an independent tourist-related business in International Drive in Orlando (the ones living on the edges of the Disney dream), and it's easy to see moving from $10 to $15 per hour is brutal. Where does the money come from?  Well, it's either got to come out of your pocket as a consumer via price increases or the low margin businesses can't work.

2--The big hidden cost here is wage compression in any organization. Nobody talks about this one, but raising the minimum wage and increasing what you pay your entry level workers by $5-$7 not only increases your operating expenses, but it creates compression with all other experienced hourly workers, as well as the low-level salaried workers. The biggest place this hits is in your "leads" (the hourly folks with the most experience) and your first-level supervisors. You know what's coming - you either pay those people as well to eliminate the pay gap elimination that occurs due to a big bump in the minimum wage, or you deal with the festering dissatisfaction. 

What you'll hear if you don't deal with the compression - "Well, why should I deal with all the BS if I can make roughly the same to just clock in and clock out - and I'm OT eligible"!!

Wage compression associated with the minimum wage increase is the storm on the horizon, the Jason from Friday the 13th with the mask/chainsaw.

Don't feel bad for Disney or any big company related to this - most aren't paying their share of taxes anyway, and this is just a redistribution related to what they should have been paying. Feel bad for any company with 100-1000 employees with moderate margins. Consumers aren't mature enough to consciously pay more in a rational exchange for the increased living wage. They migrate to where they get the same product the cheapest.

Hello living wage - a good thing. Goodbye lots of small businesses - a decidedly bad thing.

Get ready to see tenants in strip malls near you with 50% occupancy spaced out - with available spaces between active business - to maximize the appearance of a robust business environment. Good times.


Gap Years Are Sexy, But They Come At A Cost...

As COVID drags on, there's a popular topic that's coming up more often in families with college age kids - THE GAP YEAR!

What's a Gap Year? Here's how Wikipedia describes it:

"A gap year, also known as a sabbatical year, is typically a year-long break before or after college/university during which students engage in various educational and developmental activities, such as travel or some type of regular work."

Ah, the Gap Year. If you've had people in your family who have taken a Gap year to travel and "find themselves" and it was even remotely funded by your family, raise Saving-gap-year-backpacker-khaosan-road-thailand-istock your hand. That's a definition of comfort and privilege, regardless of your race or any other identifier.  I'm not hating on it, but it's a very comfortable thing.

As they used to say back in the day, "It's good work if you can get it."

But Gap Years are back in the news, more the result of the pandemic than of privilege.  Two factors make it a hot topic:

1--Remaining fears about the safety of being on campus and in a general college population, and more to the point, 

2--The fact that almost EVERY FREAKING COLLEGE IN AMERICA trumpeted the fact that they would be BACK ON CAMPUS this fall, only to move everyone in, secure the local economy for another 4 months (annual leases on and off campus) and CASH THE CHECKS before announcing they were moving back to a primarily virtual learning environment.

Thus, some people feel smart for taking a Gap Year this term, and others are considering taking one starting in the winter and spring terms, now that the cat's out of the bag related to "yeah, we didn't really ever think we would be back on campus - sorry!"

But the Gap Year ultimately has a cost, primarily in lifetime earnings.  More from USA Today:

A new study out this week  by SimpsonScarborough finds that 40% of incoming freshmen are likely or highly likely to not attend any four-year college this fall. Last week, Harvard reported that more than 20% of its first-year students are deferring enrollment.

But there could be a downside to delaying college by a year: the potential loss of $90,000 in lifetime earnings, according to a study from economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. That might seem counterintuitive, given that the pandemic has pushed the jobless rate higher, prompting questions from families about whether it’s the best time to make a pricey investment in a college degree.

The pandemic has made a college degree more valuable, not less, partly because the prospects for people with only a high school diploma are far weaker in the pandemic than for those with a bachelor’s degree.  

So how does that $90,000 in lost income come about? Mainly by foregoing the first year of income earned by a college degree – about $43,000 on average, the study found. A gap-year graduate would start earning that same income a year later, and never quite catch up. For instance, a 25-year-old gap-year student would earn about $49,000 on average, compared with about $52,000 for a grad who didn’t take a year off. That adds up over a career to $90,000, the study noted.

As a parent with a kid in college, it's tough to see him back at school but not getting the true college experience. I'm OK with paying, as his 4-years is a reasonable cost ticket, which I'm thankful for.

But I suspect there's been a lot of trust that's been decayed with Universities in their relationships with families and students.

I suspect the new Gap Year will change over time to the Virtual Year, where families and students pick the lowest cost option to make progress on degrees from virtual locations, wait out COVID and transfer credits in to the brick and mortar school when this is all over.

Congrats colleges - glad you got paid. You should hope this COVID thing gets solved by Summer of 2021, because if not, the economy in your towns and cities is going to crater.


COVID Economy: There's Probably Some Big WARN Notices On The Way...

Our economy during the COVID crisis has been a strange beast. The stock market rebounded in a strong way after dropping 35%, even though unemployment remains high. We're in a recession, and while the layoffs and furloughs have occurred, the federal government acted quickly and provided job-saving stimulus in the way of the Payroll Protection Act (for small businesses) and stimulus for entire industries like Airlines, Healthcare and more.

Those programs came with strings - namely that employment had to be protected to a large degree for a significant period of time, even if work wasn't available. As these protection periods end, we're looking at a lot of big company/big organization moves to potentially layoff tens of thousands of workers.

Case in point - United Airlines, which just submitted plans and documentation required via the WARN act to layoff as many as 36,000 workers, or half of its workforce. More from Business Insider: United

"United Airlines said on Wednesday that it would warn 36,000 frontline employees of potential furloughs and layoffs, representing about 38% of the company's workforce of 95,000.

Travel demand had begun to recover since April, when coronavirus lockdowns drove demand down as much as 97%, but the airline said demand fell again in recent weeks as virus cases spiked in several states.

The affected employees will receive Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act notices, or WARN notices, this week, with a final notice about their status in early August. American Airlines began informing some employees of furloughs in late June.

The affected frontline employees constitute 15,000 flight attendants, 2,250 pilots, 11,000 customer-service and gate agents, 800 catering workers, 1,000 contact-center employees, 225 network-operations workers, 5,500 maintenance workers. An additional 1,400 management and administrative employees could also be affected.

While airlines are prohibited from furloughing or laying off workers until October 1 under the terms of the payroll support they received from the CARES Act, most employers are required to give 60 days of notice when possible under the WARN Act.

The airline said that not every worker who received a WARN notice would be impacted and that the final number would depend on how many more employees take voluntary leave and buyout packages, as well as whether demand makes an unexpected recovery by next month."

BUCKLE UP.

I think the federal government did a great job of getting stimulus out in the March/April time period. The longer this thing goes on, the less the government can do.


BEST BOSS EVER Podcast: e3 - Pat Lynch and the State of Outplacement During COVID-19

Welcome to Best Boss Ever, the podcast dedicated to helping you develop managers who build great teams. In this episode, Kris Dunn talks with Patrick Lynch, President of CMP’s Southeast Region, to talk about the current state of outplacement during COVID-19.

Don't forget to subscribe to this podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or Google Play. Rate and Review if you like what you hear!

On to the show (email subscribers, click here if you don't see the player below)...

Show Highlights:

1:15: KD intros with the topic of Outplacement and introduces guest, Patrick Lynch (Who insists we call him Pat) who will be our tour guide related to what’s going on in the world of Outplacement.

3:05: Pat tells us about what he does and what CMP does. CMP helps companies and individuals with outplacement and career transitions.  They also do about executive search needs, assessments for selection, hire and development as well as executive coaching.

4:34: KD asks Pat: What’s changed in Outplacement in the last few months with COVID? Pat says pre-COVID, outplacement levels were down overall, but despite a skyrocket in unemployment, they haven’t seen the same uptick in outplacement. There are a few reasons for this, being on furlough is a big one and they delve into the details.

8:15: Pat says things are different from 2008/2009 because employee brand is so important. Companies are trying their hardest to avoid layoffs. KD comes in and they talk about the message of hope – are we springing back or entering a recession?

10:45: KD asks Pat about levels of Outplacement Packages. Pat says the programs are based on time periods, level of service and seniority, and helping those in outplacement with access to resources. He says CMP works with people until they’re re-employed.

17:30: Pat gives some career advice during outplacement: Don’t waste your time applying for everything. Instead, ask what are your highest levels of opportunity and focus on those. Pat continues to give tips on the most important steps to take when job hunting.

25:45: Pat and KD go into the details of how some companies are handling COVID outplacement, and how Airbnb’s leaders handled the outplacement with empathy and sincerity.

33:00: KD says, even if you can’t afford Outplacement, call Pat. Pat compares Bryd to Airbnb with their Glassdoor reviews, how you handle the outplacement will matter for your company’s recovery.

37:45: They close it out talking about what’s to come, and what resources are available for the future.

Resources:

Boss Leadership Training Series

Patrick Lynch on LinkedIn

CMP Website

Kinetix

The HR Capitalist

Fistful of Talent

Kris Dunn on LinkedIn

KD's Book - The 9 Faces of HR


 

THE HR FAMOUS PODCAST: E14 - Gen Z COVID Job Search and Recruiter Outplacement

In episode 14 of The HR Famous Podcast, long-time HR leaders (and friends) Jessica Lee, Tim Sackett, and Kris Dunn are joined by Tim’s son Cameron and HR professional Chris Hoyt to talk about holidays during quarantine, finding a job straight out of college during a recession, and recruitersrecruitingrecruiters.com. The team discusses the struggles of finding a job in a recession for a college grad, changes to candidate experience, and better ways to hire during a pandemic.

Listen below (email subscribers click through if you don’t see the player) or click here for a direct link. Be sure to and be sure to subscribe, rate, and review via iTunesSpotify and Google Play.


Show Highlights:

1:30 – Mother’s Day is coming! Jessica wants some peace and quiet for her special day and Tim’s wife wants diamonds. Sounds like some good gifts to me! 

3:30 – Where do you get your Mom’s Mother Day flowers? KD shouts out 1-800- Flowers and tells a story about a disastrous bouquet of Wal-Mart flowers. Moral of the story: don’t buy flowers from Wal-Mart. 

6:00 – Happy (belated) Birthday KD! What we’ve learned is that KD prefers store bought cakes to homemade cakes.

7:00 – Welcome Tim’s son to the podcast! Cameron is a recent grad from the University of Michigan and joins the conversation to discuss finding a job during a pandemic and fills us in on what his job search has been like for the past few months.

10:00 – Has candidate experience decreased since the recession started? Cameron hasn’t seen anything shady from employers but has seen a lot of uncertainty and jobs being cancelled or postponed. 

12:20 – Have you been ghosted from a lot of jobs? Cameron has only heard back from a real person for 3 out of 70 jobs he applied to. Not many rejections too! Is that because of the uncertain nature of the times?

14:50 – Would Cameron go work for Fox News if they offered him a job? 

16:00 – Are career services still active during the pandemic? Cameron uses Tim as his personal career coach but has seen lots of friends get early job offers from college recruiting and career fairs. 

18:10 – Hot gossip alert! Cameron spills the tea on how Tim is as a personal career coach. 

20:00 – Quarantine time is a good time to learn new skills! Cameron has been working on podcasting. Look out for the Disney Channel rewatchables coming to your favorite podcasting service near you! KD and Cam discuss their favorite episodes of The Ringer’s Rewatchables podcast. 

23:00 – Tim gives us a branding lesson. Buy your kids URLs and reserve their email addresses and social media handles early! 

25:15 – Time for the second guest! Tim welcomes long time friend Chris Hoyt to the podcast.

26:00 – Chris discusses his work Career Crossroads and what they do for talent acquisition and recruiting. Tim loves it!

28:20 – Story time! Tim tells us how his wife, Kim, met Chris in Park City, Utah and really liked him. 

29:30 – Recruitersrecruitingrecruiters.com! Say that five times in a row! Chris talks about his newest project inspired by the cooperation between CVS and the hospitality industry during the coronavirus pandemic. 

32:20 – Looking for a recruiting job? There’s about 150 jobs available on the platform with over 250 employers. 

35:00 – #firstworldproblems. Are you experiencing Zoom fatigue? 

35:30 – How can you guarantee candidate experience with such high unemployment? Chris discusses how it’s uncertain whether the same levels of candidate experience can be kept up and Tim talks about mistakes he made in the last recession. 


You're Employed and Confident, Awesome - But Stay Lean, My Friends...

If you watched the NFL Draft because you were starved for sports, you saw an unusual event. Due to COVID, the entire draft was held virtually, which means we got to peek in the homes of drafted players, coaches and executives.

And yes, that means you got to peak in the home of Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury. Yes, he spells his name that way. Yes, his home is fabulous. Yes, those are designer shoes with no socks while other coaches shown had dip cups and sneakers.

Take a look at this photo of a live look-in from the Draft (email subs click through if you don't see the photo), then let's discuss.

Cliff

What a spread, eh? FANTASTIC.

I show this as we enter into a recession. It's a well known fact that 30M+ people have filed for unemployment in a span of 6 weeks.

Then there's everyone else. I hope you're feeling good about your situation, but here I am - Uncle KD - encouraging you to stay lean for what's to come. 

The connection to the picture of Kliff?  I'm a fan of the Ryen Russillo Podcast, and on a recent episode in the last month, he recounted a story that Kingsbury told when he had him on as a guest late in his first season with the Cardinals (2019). Kingsbury had righted the ship after a tough start, and Russillo playfully asked him what he was thinking in a game earlier in the season when he was down 20+ points.

Kliff Kingsbury's Response?

"I wished I wouldn't have bought that f**king mansion."

LESSON: There's no better leverage for any situation you face professional than staying lean and not running up a lot of debt.

Stay thirsty and lean for the rest of 2020, my friends.


HR Trails Almost Everyone Other Career Related to Freelancing - Let's Discuss...

Welcome to the recession, team! It's just like any other recession, except that it was caused by a Global Pandemic, which seems a bit - extreme.

But I digress. If we're no longer in the peak economic cycle and over 30 million Americans Sidehustlehave hit unemployment since mid-March (WTF, and the number is likely much bigger if you count all the underutilized employees that companies are holding onto via cash reserves and stimulus programs like the Payroll Protection Act), it seems like a good time to talk about freelancing, because all of us might need an alternative source of income at some point in the near future.

You know, a side hustle.

Who's good at having a side hustle? According to research conducted by The Hustle, a nifty little business newsletter you can get delivered to you daily, it's who you would expect. Professions most likely to have a side hustle are first and foremost creative pursuits, the kind where companies often have difficulty justifying a full time position. Graphic design, online media and photography all lead the charge in freelancing and putting together portfolio careers rather than relying on (or being able to rely on) a single source of income (email subscribers, click through if you don't see the charts below).

Hustle 1

What's that? How's HR doing related to having a side hustle?

Shitty.

I regret to inform you we are neither good at it or comfortable with it. See the chart below from the same research, which shows HR as the third least likely profession to have a side hustle, behind the sexy, risk-taking tribes that are lawyers and engineers (woof).

Hustle HR

For god's sake, bankers experiment more with a side hustle than we do. #sad

If you're reading this post as an HR or talent pro, I've got good news for you - you're already hungry for knowledge and experimentation with the status quo, or you wouldn't be here. 

Why do HR people rarely experiment with the side hustle?  Some thoughts:

--We write the policies on the people side and it feels a little hypocritical to do our own thing after we wrote the blurb on moonlighting.

--Our profession is made of up of rules people, and having more than one job doesn't feel like it's in compliance.

--Our skill set doesn't lend itself to side hustle as the work product isn't as transferrable as the graphic designer. 

--We simply aren't a profession full of entrepreneurs. #truth 

Let's examine some of those reasons. We ARE full of rules people and if we wrote the policy manual, we're compelled to follow it. But that sounds like it might be time to reexamine the policy in a gig economy. 

As far as whether our skill set lends itself to the side hustle or not, well, all you really need to do is look at the tens of thousands of HR Consultants who have hung their own shingle to help small business in American and it's clear - the transferrable skill set argument doesn't hold water.

The real reason for such a low side hustle score is we are full of rules people, and HR for the most part doesn't have an entrepreneurial spirit.

And that's 100% ok.  But in a recession that looks like it may be deep and long, it's probably time to figure out what you could sell if you had to.

There's never a better time to look for a side hustle writing an employee handbook for a small company than... wait for it... when you still have a job.

Recession = get ready to bootstrap.