Entries in workers (16)


Five Areas in the US with Labor Shortages

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Friday's jobs report will likely continue to show the troubling picture for low-skill workers, but some regions of the country are in dire need of workers.

In the booming oil country around Minot, N.D., for example, Menards, a home improvement chain, is having trouble filling jobs.  Its solution is to fly 50 workers in weekly from its headquarters in Wisconsin, then house the staffers in hotels.

Stephen Bronars, chief economist with Welch Consulting, said the biggest labor shortages, by far, are in North Dakota.

"It is very difficult for employers to attract and retain enough workers to meet their demand in virtually all sectors and industries in North Dakota," Bronars said

Bismarck's unemployment rate is 2.2 percent -- the lowest in the country among metropolitan areas -- and Minot's unemployment rate is also low at 2.4 percent.  But what may be the lowest rate in the state is the 0.7 percent unemployment rate in Williston, N.D., which is in the midst of an energy boom.

"Employment is also growing at retailers, hotels, restaurants and in other industries as well," Bronars said.

Here are four other areas in the country with labor shortages:


Partly because of the housing recovery, home builders in Tampa, Fla., are reporting a shortage of construction workers.  Many workers left the region after the economic crisis of 2008.


Washington state apple and asparagus farmers both reported a shortage of workers this year, reflecting a nationwide lack of farmhands.


In New Orleans, a city official said a lack of workers delayed removal of debris, such as tree limbs and leaves, after Hurricane Isaac.  The city and its contractor said they have had to recruit laborers from out of state.

Manufacturing sector

In the next 10 years, the shortage of highly skilled workers could increase to 875,000 from 80,000 to 100,000 workers now, according to the Boston Consulting Group. While the U.S. may create as many as five million manufacturing and supporting jobs by 2020, factory workers are beginning to age and retire, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Many Will Be Giving Thanks from Work on Thanksgiving

Siri Stafford/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Thanksgiving is right around the corner.  And while most people will be home spending the holiday with their families, some will be stuck in the office.

A Bloomberg BNA survey of employers finds that close to three-quarters of employers said that both Thanksgiving and Black Friday will be paid days off for nearly all their staff.  As expected, 99 percent of businesses are giving that Thursday as a paid day off.

However, 36 percent of the same employers said they do expect at least a few people to work on Thanksgiving, which sounds crummy except for that a decade ago, close to half of the bosses had some people working on the holiday.

Just over 90 percent of manufacturers will give workers Thanksgiving and Black Friday off, while 69 percent of non-manufacturers and 66 percent of non-businesses, i.e., government agencies, allow workers to stay home with pay on those same days.

While Thanksgiving gifts aren't the rule, the survey says about one in ten companies will give something to their workers as a token of appreciation.  

People who work on Thanksgiving Day generally receive extra compensation for their sacrifice.  Half of employers said they would pay overtime, while 22 percent are giving double-time to their faithful employees.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Dating in the Office: 10 Do’s and Don’ts

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- From flirtations in the copy room to after-work drinks that lead to a walk down the aisle, office romances can be an exciting -- if risky -- proposition.  

Some bosses say they’re not worth pursuing at all.

“It’s always better, if you can fall in love with someone, fall in love with someone from a different company.  It’s distracting, it’s disturbing, people don’t like it, and it’s not good for a company,” Donald Trump said in a recent interview with ABC's 20/20.

Still, others say that dating in the office may actually be good for business, particularly when such relationships make workers happy.

“I think happy employees equal higher profitability,” said Tom Szaky, CEO of the New Jersey-based recycling company Terracycle.  “Isn’t that what every CEO is in the business of?”

If you do decide to mix business with pleasure, here are some tips on how to do it while minimizing the impact on your career, from workplace author Caitlin Friedman:

1. Do take it seriously -- a workplace romance can have serious consequences for your reputation.  “It just makes people uncomfortable,” Friedman said.  “Even if they say they are O.K. with it, they’re not.”

2. Don’t have public displays of affection.  “Trust me, nobody wants to see it,” Friedman said.

3. Don’t travel for business together -- it can lead to troubling questions.  “Your receipts for the dinner out is questionable.  How much you spent on a bottle of wine during that dinner out is questionable.  You just don’t want to go there,” Friedman said.

4. Don’t talk about your relationship with your colleagues.  Although from a gossip perspective, your co-workers want all of the details but no matter what you say, you will be judged.

5. Do think about who will be impacted if the relationship goes south.  Are there clients you both work for?  People who report to you who would feel their loyalties tested if you broke up?

6. Don’t change your public persona when your partner is in the room, especially during meetings.  Everyone will be watching your dynamic, especially in the early stages of your relationship, so try to behave consistently.  For instance, don’t suddenly start agreeing with your partner if you hadn’t done so before.

7. Do check in with each other as the relationship progresses to see if it’s time to make a professional change.  If you are in this for the long haul, then maybe one of you should consider looking for a new job?

8. Don’t date someone who reports directly to you.  Even if it is consensual, you will be vulnerable to a sexual harassment suit.

9. Do consider keeping it secret for as long as possible.  It can be really satisfying and really fun to have a relationship that is just between the two of you.

10. Don’t move too fast.  Sure, you have lots in common already -- you share a company and colleagues.  But on an emotional level and on a personal level, you are still getting to know each other.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Underage Workers Found at Foxconn Factory in China

Karson Yiu/ABC News(BEIJING) -- Foxconn Technology Group, the company that manufactures Apple’s iPhone, has confirmed reports that underage employees as young as 14 years old have been found working as interns at a factory site in China.

The company says the discovery was made during an internal investigation at its factory in Yantai.

"Our investigation has shown that the interns in question, who ranged in age from 14 to 16, had worked in that campus for approximately three weeks," Foxconn said in a statement.  The company did not mention how many underage interns were found.

The workers were part of a government-sponsored internship program for students who are at least 16 years old -- the minimum age for employment in China.  They have since been sent back to their schools.

Foxconn, which is owned by Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., says it has launched a full investigation into the matter.

"We recognize that full responsibility for these violations rests with our company and we have apologized to each of the students for our role in this action.   Furthermore, any Foxconn employee found, through our investigation, to be responsible for these violations will have their employment immediately terminated," the company said.

Foxconn is a major supplier of electronic components to large U.S. companies, including Apple and Microsoft.  While it did not specify which products were produced in the Yantai factory, the company said the "facility has no association with any work we carry out on behalf of Apple."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


A Third of Workers Lie About Being Sick, Survey Finds

Pixland/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Having a job these days is a valued commodity, but important or not, workers will occasionally call in sick whether they’re feeling lousy or just need that proverbial “mental health day.”

CareerBuilder’s survey of nearly 4,000 people reveals that in about a third of the cases over the past year, employees called in sick when they really weren’t ill.  Some of the real reasons for skipping work were pretty mundane, such as wanting to catch up on sleep, listed by 16 percent of the hooky players.

However, the excuses can also be pretty creative or pretty lame depending on your perspective, according to CareerBuilder, which also interviewed nearly 2,500 hiring managers and human resource professionals.  Those excuses include:

  • "Employee was upset after watching The Hunger Games."
  • "Employee's dead grandmother was being exhumed for a police investigation."
  • "Employee's hair turned orange from dying her hair at home."

In any case, employers can be pretty understanding up to a point since workers’ absences can also put a burden on their associates.

It’s not so surprising to learn then that three in ten bosses will check up on people to make sure they really are sick by either calling an employee at home or asking for a doctor’s note.

Meanwhile, the most popular month of the year to skip out on work is December since it’s not only traditionally the height of flu season but also when people go out to do their holiday shopping.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


AT&T Workers in Indiana Claim Lunch Break Violations

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Workers for AT&T in Indiana claim in a lawsuit that they are forced to endure odd and punitive lunch break restrictions such as a ban on napping after eating a ham sandwich.

According to a class action suit filed by 11 employees against AT&T Midwest, the telecommunications company has forced technicians to endure “heavy restrictions” on their unpaid lunch break or risk discipline.

According to the suit, employees allege the telecom company allows them to eat packed lunches in vehicles during unpaid lunch hours, but not spend the remainder of the lunch break reading newspapers, napping, or using personal computers or music players in vehicles.  Workers also are barred from idling vehicles for air conditioning or heat during lunch.  Manhole workers must stay and guard the area during lunch break; they cannot go more than one-half mile from one assigned job to another for lunch or face discipline.

“AT&T is committed to full compliance with all federal and state laws, including the wage and hour laws, and has received numerous awards for being an employer of choice,” Marty Richter, a spokesperson for AT&T, said in a statement to ABC News.

Kimberly Jeselskis, an attorney for the plaintiffs, responded in a statement to ABC News: “Obviously my clients disagree with that statement since we filed this case and there’s a companion case currently pending in Wisconsin detailing the same issues.”

The lawsuit, first posted on Courthouse News, continues, “the company’s restrictions on movement and activities during the unpaid lunch break and its productivity measurement system put pressure on the technicians to work through all or part of the lunch break without pay (rather than sitting in a potentially cold or overheated vehicle doing nothing).”

The lawsuit alleges violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act by “treating the time allocated to the technicians so-called meal breaks, AT&T has failed to pay the technicians time and a half for all such hours worked in excess.”   The lawsuit alleges violation of Indiana wage laws and violation of Indiana record-keeping laws.

The suit is seeking to have the unpaid lunch break deemed illegal under the FLSA and state law, payment of attorney fees and damages.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Half of US Workers Ready to Seek Another Job, Survey Finds

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- In these uncertain times, not only is it good to get out while the going’s good, it’s also good to get out when things aren’t so good as evidenced in a survey of American workers conducted by insurance company Aflac.

After several years of recession and subsequent slow economic growth, 49 percent of workers revealed they are ready to take their services elsewhere during the coming year.

Virtually all of those planning to leave for new horizons consider themselves hard workers, while a solid majority also believe they are ambitious, highly educated and high achievers.

The survey should send up red flags, according to Aflac vice president of corporate services Audrey Boone Tillman, who warns employers that "their top talent has a pent-up desire to leave for what they believe to be greener pastures.”

Despite this, Tillman says that companies are slow to make changes or improvements that can keep their best workers from fleeing.

What’s most important to employees are benefit packages, with 84 percent saying that it would play a significant factor in staying or leaving.  Meanwhile, 43 percent claimed stress was a major part in their decision to seek a new job while a third complained about their company’s reputation.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Flexible Work Schedules Most Desired Summer Benefit, Survey Shows

Siri Stafford/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- As the lazy, hazy days of summer draw near, a new OfficeTeam survey of employees finds flexible work schedules and leaving work early on Fridays are the most coveted summer benefits.

Forty-one percent of the survey participants ranked flexible work schedules as the summer benefit they desired the most.  Twenty-eight percent said leaving early on Fridays was the summer perk they would most like to have.

Workers were asked, "Which of the following summer benefits would you most like to have?"  They answered:

-- Flexible schedules, 41 percent
-- Leave early on Fridays, 28 percent
-- Activities such as a company picnic or potluck, 11 percent
-- More relaxed dress code, 5 percent
-- Other, 7 percent
-- Don’t know/No answer, 9 percent

The responses do not total 100 percent due to rounding.

The survey also finds that many managers are responding to their employees’ summer wishes.  HR managers were asked, "Which, if any, of the following summer benefits are offered at your company?"  They responded:

-- Flexible schedules, 75 percent
-- Leave early on Fridays, 63 percent
-- More relaxed dress code, 57 percent
-- Activities such as a company picnic or potluck, 28 percent
-- None/Nothing offered, 6 percent
-- Don’t know, 9 percent

The OfficeTeam survey involved 449 working adults 18 years of age or older and 515 human resources managers.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


'I’m Joining the Circus' Among Odd Reasons Given for Quitting Jobs

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(MENLO PARK, Calif.) -- An improving economy often gives many workers courage to change jobs, but quitting a position to join the circus or handing in your notice simply because you don’t like the carpet seems a bit unusual.  Those reasons may be odd, but they are completely real, according to a new survey commissioned by OfficeTeam.

The OfficeTeam survey questioned 1,300 senior managers at companies with 20 or more employees in the U.S. to find the most bizarre reasons employees have given for quitting a job.  They include:

-- “Someone left because her boss lost the dog she had given him.”
-- “Our employee said he was joining the circus.”
-- "One person left because she lost her cell phone too many times at work."
-- "We had someone quit to participate in a reality show."
-- "An employee said it was his routine to change jobs every six months."

These individuals apparently wanted to follow their true calling:

-- "One worker left to become an apple farmer."
-- "A staff member quit to climb Mount Everest."
-- "There was an individual who left to play the trombone."
-- "An employee wanted to enter a beauty contest."
-- "One worker quit to join a rock band."

You can't fault these employees for their honesty:

-- "A guy said he was making too much money and didn't feel he was worth it."
-- "One person left because she didn't want to work so hard."
-- "An individual said he was bored."
-- "Someone quit because she was going to live off her trust fund."
-- "An employee said work was getting in the way of having fun."
-- "A person quit because informal dress was not allowed."
-- "The worker told us he just couldn't get up in the morning."

And there were other workers who suffered from sensory overload:

-- "He quit because he didn't like the way the office smelled."
-- "One employee didn't enjoy the cafeteria food."
-- "An individual did not like the sound of file cabinets being slammed."

These workers handed in their notice when a day off might have sufficed:

-- "One person quit to watch a soccer tournament."
-- "We had someone leave because he had to stay home to feed his dog."
-- "An employee left because he wanted to watch a movie with his girlfriend during work hours."

Other employees had a problem with their company's interior design:

-- "A person quit because he hated the carpet."
-- "One worker did not like the colors of the walls."
-- "The employee quit because the office building was unattractive."
-- "Someone felt the lobby area was too small."
-- "She hated the lighting in the building."

And finally, one senior manager recalled a worker who simply got up and left: "He just walked out without a peep.  We have no idea why he left, and we were not able to contact him."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Drinking at Work? Some Employers See Benefits

Wavebreak Media/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Drinking on the job?  Some employers say they're fine with that.  In fact, some companies will even buy the booze, on the theory that a little tippling makes for a happier employee -- and maybe, too, as a new study suggests, a more creative one.

Though a variety of companies today serve alcohol to employees, ad agencies hold the liquor-fueled torch highest.  The ranks of liquor-serving firms have recently included BBDO, Grey, J. Walter Thompson, Mindshare and TBWA/Chiat/Day.

In New York, J. Walter Thompson has in its offices a 50-foot-long bar with pedestal stools that would put many commercial bars to shame.

"Yes, we have a bar," says a spokesperson, "and it is frequently accessed.  We think it incentivizes and enthuses employees.  It's generally used for off-hours consumption, but that's not to say there isn't on-hours consumption as well."

Ad agency Kirshenbaum, Bond, Senecal + Partners hosts internal, open-bar events called Trolleys.  The name comes from a drink cart, known affectionately as the trolley, that 20 years ago rolled around the agency dispensing cocktails.  It since has been retired, but the liquor still flows, including brands belonging to agency clients.

Jonah Bloom, head of digital strategy at Kirshenbaum, says the firm tries to make Trolleys "a fairly regular thing."  Employees need a chance to bond, he says -- to get away from their desks for a while and have fun mingling.

"We work hard," he says.  "Most employees get in around 9 a.m., but they may work as late as 9 p.m. or 10 p.m. or even later.  Clients recognize that.  If we have a bit of fun, that's okay."

Plus, a drink or two has been known to aid the creative process.

"Say there's a group of employees standing around chatting," says Bloom of the Trolleys.  "They're just having fun, having a couple of beers together.  It's a social occasion.  They may not set out to solve a problem.  But somebody comes up with an idea, and somebody else builds on that."

Just how much credit should go to booze, he isn't sure.

"I'm not sure it's the alcohol," he says of the Trolleys' success at solving problems.  "It could just be the socializing.  But who knows?  [Alcohol] may act as lubricant."

Recent evidence suggests he's right.  A study released last week by researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago finds that a little bit of alcohol -- just enough to register 0.075 on a breathalyzer -- can help your mind explore unorthodox solutions.  Sometimes, researchers found, having a little less focus can be helpful.

The report, "Uncorking The Muse: Alcohol Intoxication Facilitates Creative Problem Solving" was published in the journal Consciousness and Cognition.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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