Sorting out the May Jobs Numbers

Sorting out the May Jobs Numbers

Many very smart people have been working overtime trying to make sense of the May jobs numbers.  Economists have been poring over them.  Journalists have tried to translate them – some to explain to those who aren’t economists, some to soothe the fears of the average American, and of course, some to play to their audiences.

Compensation consultants comb over the numbers looking for clues.  Will they affect IT jobs? Will this relieve pressure over in another industry? Will job gains overall, regardless of industry, drive people back to stores and restaurants?

Suddenly the image came into focus.  Regardless of who you are, economist, journalist, or comp consultant, we all keep looking to the past for contextual clues to interpret these numbers.  That is about as sophisticated as the sorting toys that you gave toddlers in the 1960s. 

But that is how everyone IS looking at the jobs numbers.  “Oh, we have this many jobs openings and this many people out of work, so let’s just stack them up, and we know they will fit in this order. DONE.”

Kids sorting toys evolved.  In the 1970s, toys emerged that required you fit several different shapes into the space.  Far more analogous to trying to match skills and openings.  Then came the toy with the crazy shapes fixed upon wavy wires – they wouldn’t stay in place, very representative of today’s labor force. Today, kids’ sorting toys are so complex that they demand collaboration, one of those soft skills.

We all need to get that simple ring stacking sorter out of our head.  It will never be that simple again.

Nightmare at the Office:  Budget Time

Nightmare at the Office: Budget Time

By Margaret Jungels

Halloween’s upon us, but it’s not just ghosts, ghouls, and goblins that are keeping us up at night. Even without Covid-19, these recent months of wildfires, social unrest, politics, hurricanes, and murder hornets are enough to push even the most zen among us over the edge.  

To top it off, amidst all this uncertainty, it’s time to start planning next year’s budgets! How do you predict anything about next year while still in a year full of “unprecedented times”? What costume or cape can you put on to possibly help with this task? 

Good advice for our kids, is good advice for all of us right now:  focus on what you can control and things that matter.

As your leadership team contemplates 2021, the things that you can control, and the things that really matter, reflect on how you have been able to survive 2020—your employees and their ability to adapt, innovate, and pivot weekly, if not daily. So, when thinking about how to budget for salary increases in the coming year, what should you do? What can you do?  

  • You can put together a process. Document the process. If you have a process from a previous year, review it, update it, and share it with everyone who touches it—people managers, finance, HR, and payroll. Make sure that people know what is expected of them, remind them in advance of due dates, and update the plan as you go. (This you can control)
  • There’s a lot to think about when determining how to allocate your salary budget. How have labor markets changed in the past year? Do some departments or roles compete for talent differently than others? Has Covid-19 created hot or hard to fill jobs? But beyond all this, the issue of pay equity is here to stay. Allocate your salary budget in a way that advances pay equity.  Let an analysis of current pay equity direct your budget allocation and drive changes to the way you pay, develop, and promote. Even with a relatively small budget, you can make sure that pay changes are advancing pay equity.  (This matters) 

And even though the world seems topsy-turvy, there’s still a lot that hasn’t changed. According to Willis Towers Watson’s 2020 North American Compensation Planning Pulse Survey, 84% of companies plan to deliver their pay increases on schedule. And while some companies (approximately 35%) plan to lower salary increases next year, the survey predicts a 2.6% average salary increase for non-executives—not so far off previous years. According to PayScale Market Trends the Technology and Transportation sectors remain strong and lead annual increase trends, but most other sectors are still doing relatively well. In some cases, even in Entertainment and Hospitality who have seen many layoffs, market rates of those who remain employed have been driven up.  

Finally, two things we can promise you—we’re here to help you navigate these tricky times, and, we’ll save you some fun-sized Kit Kats for when we can meet in person again!

The Heart of the Matter

The Heart of the Matter

From my involvement with Best Buddies, I was aware that there were companies who hired people with intellectual disabilities. This story highlights that often these aren’t disabilities. These intellectual differences allow some employees to bring much needed skills to the workplace. Many people on the autism spectrum are better at pattern recognition and attention to detail.

For many years, my colleagues on the organizational development end of the HR spectrum have lamented that the traditional hiring process is flawed by interviewer bias. Companies like Microsoft are using a different way of interviewing people on the autism spectrum, but this is actually better way of screening most candidates and predicting success within a role and a company culture.

“Instead of the traditional job interview focusing so heavily on social skills, the company – Microsoft – has replaced it with a vetting process that lasts for weeks and includes team building exercises.”

Given the current labor shortages in certain areas, I don’t think we can afford to ignore any human capital, or an increase in turnover. It’s taking people on autism spectrum to bring out some of the better practices on the HR spectrum. Read More Here.

A Career 180°?

A Career 180°?

It’s the end of the week, and perhaps you are sitting at your desk wondering, “What am I doing here?” or “I gotta do something different, but what?”

People jest about doing a 180, but before now, did you really know exactly what that would be? The Upshot section of the NYT has developed this nifty little tool; using the Labor Department’s records on the required tasks and skills for each job to determine what each job’s opposite would be. All you have to do is enter your current job to find your opposite job!

Examining your opposite job does have some benefits. The article mentions that “breaking a job into its component parts helps us look beyond the obvious and think clearly about the things that people actually do.” It’s interesting to see what skills are used most or least for each job. Surprisingly, there’s even some overlap in skills for seemingly dissimilar jobs.

So enter your job, or a dream job, in the little box, to perhaps think outside the box! Read More Here

Why Failure is Important for the Workplace

Why Failure is Important for the Workplace

“The idea that an 18-year-old doesn’t know how to fail on the one hand sounds preposterous. But I think in many ways we’ve pulled kids away from those natural learning experiences.”

When he was seven or eight, my son was on a losing soccer team.  I was thrilled.

Why? Because every week he still had to show up at practice and participate in games.  I knew then that failure is an important lesson.

Why? Because I was in HR.  I had discussed the importance of failure (and how to recover from it) with a former boss and mentor;  try coaching an executive who has never gotten a “B.”The danger in the workplace is often that when high achievers fail, they are in high profile positions, with large amounts of money on the line, and absolutely no experience or coping skills.

Will employers gravitate toward hiring graduates from schools like Smith that are offering these programs and resources that help young adults cope with failure? They should. Read More Here