Quick Hits - May 22, 2024 - American Society of Employers - ASE Staff

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Quick Hits - May 22, 2024

AI officially cited as causing job losses:  Nearly 65,000 people were cut from their jobs at U.S. based companies in April according to a report released Thursday by career services firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. Continued cuts in the technology sector, a large layoff at Tesla, and the replacement of jobs by artificial intelligence largely to blame. At 64,789, April's job cuts were down significantly from the 90,000 cuts announced in March and slightly down from the 66,995 announced in April of 2023.  So far this year, almost 325,000 jobs have been slashed, down 4.6% from the jobs that had been eliminated by this time last year, according to the report. Technology remains the sector with the highest number of job cuts in the year at 47,436. Of the cuts across sectors, 800 lost losses were blamed on AI, the highest number of layoffs citing the reason since May of 2023.  Employers announced plans to hire 9,802 new workers in April, bringing the total number of new jobs announced this year to 46,597, the lowest total in the first four months of the year since 2016.  Source: Forbes  5/2/24

AI will likely transform HR and more in the next two years: Deloitte’s quarterly State of GenAI in the Enterprise survey, which connected with nearly 2,000 director to c-suite level respondents to explore the current landscape of GenAI adoption, shows that organizations who report “high” or “very high” GenAI expertise are quickly moving past the infatuation stage, and starting to implement the technology across their workforces. Many organizations are increasingly emphasizing the need for their GenAI initiatives and investments to have clear value objectives and deliver tangible results. Although financial return on investment (ROI) is important, value drivers such as innovation, strategic positioning, and competitive differentiation can be even more important. 70% of organizations with high or very high GenAI expertise report that they have improved existing products and services and 63% say they have encouraged innovation and growth. Nearly half of survey respondents (46%) are providing approved GenAI access to just a small portion of their workforce (20% or less). In comparison, GenAI experts are further along, with nearly half (48%) providing approved GenAI access to at least 40% of their workforce. Organizations with “very high” GenAI expertise expect to change their talent strategies even faster, with 32% already making changes.  Source: Fast Company 5/3/24

Who’s happiest at work?  Americans say they are happy at work. When asked how they feel overall about their jobs, most U.S. workers are positive, with 62.7% saying they are satisfied, according to new survey data from the Conference Board, a business-research group. That is the highest job-satisfaction rating since the survey began in 1987.  Dig deeper, though, and that figure might have plateaued, the researchers said, along with a widening gap in job satisfaction between men and women. Nearly 65% of men say they are happy with their jobs compared with 60% of women. The largest gaps in satisfaction between men and women were related to financial benefits of work, such as wages, benefits, and bonuses. The American worker has a lot of reasons to feel upbeat. Unemployment has been below 4% for two years, wages finally started growing faster than inflation last summer and wealth has been bolstered by rising stock and home prices. In many white-collar jobs, employees enjoy latitude to work from home or flex their hours. The latest jobs report shows a still-strong labor market, though unemployment ticked up to 3.9% from March’s 3.8%.  Hybrid and remote workers are among the happiest in the Conference Board’s survey.  Source:  Wall Street Journal 5/6/24

Employees fired for political protesting at work an Unfair Labor Practice (ULP)? At least 28 Google employees were fired in April for participating in protests against the tech giant which, along with Amazon, provides the Israeli government with cloud services — a contract protesters say is aiding Israel in its war on Gaza. It was reported that at least two of Israel’s leading state-weapons manufacturers are required to buy any needed cloud services from Google and Amazon.  The ex-employees argued that the company’s firings were retaliatory and violated their rights to advocate for better working conditions and filed a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) complaint against the company Monday, alleging that their terminations violated labor law.  The ex-employees occupying space in Google’s workplace caused some uncomfortable situations for employees Google argued.  “This is a very clear case of employees disrupting and occupying workspaces, and making other employees feel threatened and unsafe,” said a Google spokesperson.  Depending on how the NLRB rules, employers right to limit speech at the workplace may become very limited.  The workers in the NLRB complaint are seeking to be reinstated to their jobs with back pay and a statement from Google that it will not violate workers' rights to organize.  Source:  HR Dive 5/3/24, Reuters 5/1/24

Employees want to be cared for and supported by their employer: MetLife’s 22nd Annual U.S. Employee Benefit Trends Study (EBTS) finds employees are now more likely to experience negative feelings at work, including stress (12% more likely) and burnout (17% more likely) than they were pre-pandemic (2019). Employees are also 51% more likely to feel depressed at work than they were pre-pandemic as they face a complex macro environment and permacrisis state. The majority of employees have come to expect a more consistent delivery of care from their employers - not just at work (92%), but also in their personal lives (79%). Consequently, when employers provide support during key moments, employees are significantly more likely to feel cared for (76% vs. 45%). In particular, among employees who went through a significant unplanned financial stress/expense, 86% said it had a high impact on them, but only 48% of them felt that their employer demonstrated care during the experience.  81% of employees who experienced an ongoing mental health condition said that it had a major impact on them, yet just half (50%) agreed that their employer demonstrated care toward them.   The vast majority of employees who became the primary income earner for their household said the experience had a high impact on them (83%).   However, only 58% believed their employer demonstrated care during this experience.  Source:  Metlife 22nd Annual U.S. Employee Benefit Trends Study

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