Quick Hits - September 27, 2023 - American Society of Employers - ASE Staff

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Quick Hits - September 27, 2023

Do you have a moonlighting policy?  HR leaders are struggling as employees see just how far they can push the envelope in the absence of corporate policies. 48% of HR leaders reported having more employees working side gigs in 2023 compared to last year, according to a recent survey from software insight platform Capterra. While 54% of businesses take a positive stance on side gigs and encourage their employees to make additional income if they need it, close to half of the HR leaders said their employer doesn't have a formal side gig policy. Employers need to recognize that the cost of living keeps climbing: the average prices for common goods like rent, food, and gasoline rose 3.1% annually in June 2023, according to the Consumer Price Index, while real average hourly earnings only rose 1.2%; and student loan payments hang in the balance, driving more and more employees to take on second jobs to make ends meet. 39% of HR leaders even believe that their workforce is working an entirely different full-time job for a different employer. Only 5% of all employers have a rule banning side gigs altogether.  Source: EBN 9/5/23

Should 401ks be redesigned to protect employees?  A study has shown that that the problem with 401k plans is twofold. First, many employees put their portfolios at risk by failing to diversify their investments. Second, many choose investment options with relatively high fees that eat into their returns. It is estimated that about 10% of plan participants fell prey to one, or both, of those errors. Both the advisers that administer plans and help craft their menus, as well as the employers that offer the plans, often act as enablers for poor investment choices—the advisers because they include high-fee funds that they profit from in plan menus, and the employers because they don’t do enough to protect their workers from making investment mistakes. It’s up to employers to do better.  One way is for employers’ fiduciaries to ask for better information about how participants are using the plan menu. Armed with this information, they can act to reduce employees’ missteps.  One solution is to streamline plan menus by eliminating undiversified funds that participants tend to invest in too heavily. Further, fiduciaries who learn that participants are misusing their menu options should also consider imposing various forms of allocation guardrails.  Source:  Wall Street Journal 8/6/23

The labor shortage is here to stay: There are lots of economists waiting for the labor market to “cool,” enabling unemployment to rise and inflation to slow. Yet despite these projections, unemployment remains at a 45-year low and it’s still hard to hire. Why the change? Josh Bersin’s research clearly shows that we’ve entered a whole new economy, one that makes labor shortages a long-term trend. The BLS published its ten-year forecast for the US labor market. Driven by demographics and the low birth rate, the BLS projects total U.S. employment growth will only average .3% over the coming decade. And to make it worse, labor participation rate will drop from 62.2% to 60.4%, which means about 7 million additional workers will slow down and stop working.  The drop in the labor participation rate also bodes bad for future tax revenues and viability of social security and Medicare. Despite this labor shortage, GDP is expected to rise. The BLS believes the US GDP will continue to grow at 1.9% over the next decade, which essentially means we have two diverging lines. The GDP “per worker” simply has to accelerate its rise.  Source:  Josh Bersin Blog 9/9/23

Dartmouth men’s basketball team files organizing petition: Dartmouth College Division I men's basketball players filed a petition to unionize with Service Employees International Union Local, seeking to represent around 15 college athletes. The players asked for an in-person vote to take place in October, according to a copy of the petition obtained by Law360 through a Freedom of Information Act request. Within the petition, a box was checked stating that the union requested recognition, but there was "no reply received."  SEIU Local 560, also known as the Dartmouth College Employees' Union, has labor contracts with Dartmouth for other bargaining units, according to the college's website Dartmouth College is a private, higher education Ivy League institution located in Hanover, New Hampshire. In a tweet, SEIU Local 560 said it hopes Dartmouth will "embrace the opportunity to lead the transformation of college sports into a less exploitative business…as non-scholarship athletes in the Ivy League, the players are treated like employees without receiving the same protections as other student workers on campus." Source Law360 9/14/23

Should performance reviews be revamped, especially for older workers? Evaluating employees is a broad pain point for leadership: Gallup reported that 95% of managers are unhappy with their organization's review system, and only one in four companies say their performance review systems are effective, according to Willis Towers Watson. Meanwhile, in a new survey by AARP, 72% of employees between the ages of 40-49 said they were reprioritizing the role their job plays in their overall life, and 70% said they were spending more time thinking about career goals. But what these goals are may look different from those of younger employees, as 77% also said they were taking more time to focus on personal goals and half said they were thinking about relocating in order to be closer to family.  Further, don’t let age bias impact your revamping.  Regardless of their career stage, older workers still want to learn new skills and grow, according to AARP's survey, and Aisling Teillard, chief customer officer at compensation management software solution Beqom, sees a growing trend of focusing on these aspects during the review process.  In order to establish good relationships with their older work population, managers should acknowledge their experience and expertise, Teillard says. And keep challenges coming.  Source:  EBN 9/15/23

EEOC issues its Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP): The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released its Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP) for Fiscal Years 2024 –2028 on September 21st.  Included in the SEP:

  • Targeting discrimination, bias, and hate directed against religious minorities (including antisemitism and Islamophobia), racial or ethnic groups, and LGBTQI+ individuals.
  • Expanding the vulnerable and underserved worker priority to include additional categories of workers who may be unaware of their rights under equal employment opportunity (EEO) laws, may be reluctant or unable to exercise their legally protected rights, or have historically been underserved by federal employment discrimination protections.
  • Updating the emerging and developing issues priority to include protecting workers affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions, including under the new Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) and other EEO laws; employment discrimination associated with the long-term effects of COVID-19 symptoms; and technology-related employment discrimination.
  • Highlighting the continued underrepresentation of women and workers of color in certain industries and sectors, such as construction and manufacturing, finance, tech and other science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields.
  • Recognizing employers’ increasing use of technology, including artificial intelligence and machine learning, to target job advertisements, recruit applicants, and make or assist in hiring and other employment decisions.

The SEP outlines the enforcement priorities over the next four years.  Employers are on notice.  Source:  EEOC 9/21/23

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