March Madness could cost employers, but should they discourage workers from wasting time?
Monday marks the fifth Labor Day since the official end of the Great Recession in June 2009. While the number of Americans employed is still trying to get back to pre-recession levels, the way people work, where they work and how they work or otherwise earn a living has changed significantly over the last five years and will continue to evolve moving forward, according to one employment expert.
In its annual Labor Day outlook, global outplacement and coaching consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. provided some insight into some of the employment trends that have taken shape since the end of the recession along with some that could emerge over the next five to ten years. Continue reading
With the opening kick-off of the National Football League exactly one week from today, many of the estimated 25 million Americans participating in fantasy football have already completed their drafts. However, this is little solace for the nation’s employers who can expect the fantasy sports enthusiasts in the office to spend at least an hour of work time managing their teams each week during the 13- to 17-week season.
While virtually impossible to estimate the impact of fantasy football team management on overall productivity, global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. notes that the latest government data indicate that average hourly earnings for non-farm, private-sector employees was $23.98 in July. Continue reading
Retirement Worries May Create Workforce Gridlock
A new survey this week showing that older Americans are more pessimistic than ever when it comes to their ability to afford retirement could be a sign that an increasing portion of the workforce will opt to continue working beyond the traditional retirement age. While continued employment will help aging Americans avoid financial hardship, it could make it increasingly difficult for younger workers to climb the employment ladder. In the widely reported survey conducted by the Employee Benefits Research Institute, nearly half of all American workers and retirees were either “not too confident” or “not at all confident” about being able to afford a comfortable retirement. There is good cause for concern for many older workers, according to the survey, which found that 52 percent of those 55 and older have less than $50,000 in retirement savings. Despite the concern and the lack of savings, only 23 percent of survey respondents have sought professional financial advice to help them plan for retirement. These trends create a lot of problems in the workforce, according to employment authority John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of global outplacement and executive coaching consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. “These older workers will want to…make that, need to stay in their jobs longer. And employers may oblige, since they value the experience and increased productivity these workers bring to the table. Employers may even be able to negotiate lower salaries for the prospect of increased job security. This is great for the experienced workers trying to delay retirement, but it significantly diminishes advancement opportunities for younger workers. Of course, this could backfire for employers when these older workers finally retire and they are faced with a wide experience gap between those leaving and those who remain.” What are the pros and cons of older workers staying on the job beyond the traditional retirement age? What can companies do to ensure that younger workers have opportunities to advance within their organizations? What other employment/second career opportunities exist for experienced workers who do not want to stay in their current job or want to re-enter the workforce? Continue reading
With the first round of the 2013 NCAA Division 1 men’s basketball championship tournament set to tip off next week, the nation’s employers should be readying themselves for the inevitable drop in productivity that coincides. One new survey found that nearly one-third of workers spend at least three hours per day following the Tournament during work hours.
In the annual “study” hated by working basketball fans everywhere, global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc., estimates that March Madness will cost American companies at least $134 million in “lost wages” over the first two days of the Tournament, as an estimated 3.0 million employees spend one to three hours following the basketball games instead of working.
“At the end of the day, March Madness will not even register as a blip in the overall economy. Sequestration is going to have a far bigger impact. Will March Madness even have an effect on a company’s bottom line? Not at all,” said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.
“But, if you ask department managers and corporate IT managers, March Madness will definitely have an impact on the flow of work, particularly during the first week of the Tournament. Starting the day after selection Sunday, people will be organizing office pools, researching teams and planning viewing parties. When the games begin around noon, eastern time, on Thursday, many companies will probably notice a significant drop in Internet speeds, as employees start streaming games and clogging up the network’s bandwidth.”
A survey just released by MSN and Impulse Research found that 66 percent of workers will be following March Madness during work hours, with 20 percent expecting to spend one to two hours following games, 14 percent spending three to four hours, and 16 percent saying they will spend five hours or more watching games instead of working.
Telecommuting Trend Turnaround at Yahoo!
At a time when many Silicon Valley tech firms are battling each other to attract and retain the best talent, the decision by Yahoo! Inc. to end its telecommuting program may prove to be shortsighted. The move, which was widely reported this morning after a leaked memo made its way to the press, stems from the belief that “speed and quality are sacrificed when people work from home.” Yahoo’s new CEO Marissa Mayer is determined to shake things up in an effort to turn the struggling company’s fortunes around. “To become the absolute best place to work, communication and collaboration will be important, so we need to be working side-by-side. That is why it is critical that we are all present in our offices. Some of the best decisions and insights come from hallway and cafeteria discussions, meeting new people, and impromptu team meetings. Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home. We need to be one Yahoo!, and that starts with physically being together,” the memo reads. According to John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc., there is some wisdom behind the memo’s sentiment. “Yahoo is definitely in a fourth-and-long situation, so it needs to try new tactics. There is a collaborative advantage to having all of your employees in the office. However, there is also an advantage in having the best and brightest tech workers on your payroll. The question is whether this move will result in an exodus among the company’s top talent,” he said. Could the move to end telecommuting backfire for Yahoo? What are the pros and cons of telecommuting programs? Will other companies follow Yahoo’s lead and end or rein in telecommuting options?
Sequester Could Send Government Job Cuts Soaring
Will failure to reach a budget deal by March 1 ignite another round of government job cuts? Automatic spending cuts totaling $85 billion are scheduled to take effect Friday and will impact federal agencies, including transportation and defense, as well as cut aid to states. Instead of finding a solution, Democrats and Republicans are arguing the overall impact of the cutbacks, with Democrats taking a “sky-is-falling” stance while Republicans argue that the cuts, which amount to less than 3% of the $3.5 trillion budget, will barely be felt by most Americans. The truth, as usual, probably lies somewhere in the middle. “The thousands of federal workers forced to take unpaid furloughs will certainly feel the pinch in their annual budgets. Meanwhile, state governments will have to pass along the cuts by eliminating jobs. In Missouri, for example, the automatic budget cuts will slash about $12 million in school funding and will put about 160 teaching jobs at risk. That may not seem like a lot of jobs in the big scheme of things, but it’s everything to the 160 teachers who could ultimately find themselves unemployed due to political gamesmanship,” said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. Last year, announced job cuts by government agencies fell to 19,128 after reaching 142,503 in 2011 and 183,064 in 2010. What will be the overall economic impact of automatic budget cuts that kick in March 1? Will automatic budget cuts send government job cuts to 2010-2011 levels? Are consumers and businesses spending enough now to hold up the economy if government spending declines?
With a new report detailing the growing cost of daily commuting to and from work, one workplace authority wonders if it is time for the nation’s employers to make a serious commitment to expanding the use of telecommuting strategies.
“Right now, a very small fraction of the nation’s workers who could viably work from home on a regular basis are actually doing so. By not expanding the use of telecommuting, employers are negatively impacting the environment, worker productivity, job satisfaction and, most importantly, their bottom lines. And, it is not a lack of technology or other resources that is holding back this expansion. It is simply a lack of vision, a shortage of trust and an irrational adherence to antiquated notions of how and where work should be done,” said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.
The call for increased telecommuting comes on the heels of a new report from the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, which revealed that increased traffic congestion is forcing the nation’s workers to build in extra time to their daily commutes to the tune of $121 billion in wasted time and fuel in 2011.
The longest commuting times are found in Washington D.C., where it takes drivers three hours to reach a destination that would be 30 minutes away with no traffic. On average, commuters are giving themselves one hour for what should be a 20-minute drive with no traffic. Continue reading
Super Bowl Monday, or Black Out Bowl Monday or Beyonce Bowl Monday, is likely to see hours of wasted time, as workers nationwide discuss the unusual, if not incredibly entertaining, contest between the San Francisco 49ers and Colin Kaepernick and the Baltimore Ravens, with MVP Joe Flacco. The blackout, the source of which is still under investigation by Entergy New Orleans which produces power to the stadium, was followed by a complete momentum swing in San Francisco’s favor but didn’t stop Baltimore from winning Super Bowl XLVII. Employees and management alike will have plenty to discuss…if they come in to the office.
Super Bowl XLVI in 2012 saw the most viewers of any American event with 111.3 million, according to Sports Illustrated and Nielsen, and Nielsen expects this year to have as many if not more viewers as last year’s contest.[UPDATE: viewership was slightly down to 108 million.] So many people watch the Super Bowl, and have perhaps too good of a time doing it, that a petition has been started on WhiteHouse.gov to declare the Monday after the Super Bowl a national holiday.
Indeed, Super Bowl Monday is one of the top days for absenteeism, according to John Challenger, CEO of outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. Absenteeism is difficult to measure, but could cost employers as much as 36 percent of their payrolls each year, according to a 2008 Mercer study “The Total Financial Impact of Employee Absences.” A 2005 Ciridian Institute study found that in any typical workplace, absenteeism rates range from 5 percent to 10 percent, with the greatest amount occurring in health related fields, known for long hours and stress.
Despite the inherent dangers of absenteeism for workplaces, the impact of the Super Bowl should be embraced. The discussion of the game builds camaraderie and morale, and should not be suppressed. Perhaps employers can let slide someone who comes in a little late. However, employers will probably be wary of those workers who skip out on work with unplanned absences, especially in those businesses, such as retailers, restaurants, and hospitals, that rely on shift work. For those that can, utilize technologies that let you work remotely, stay in touch with your bosses, employees, or customers, and next year, schedule the day off.
Hurricane Sandy has not even made landfall yet, but the economic impact of the storm is already mounting. The biggest financial toll will come in the wake of the storm, when the clean-up begins. However, with thousands of companies along the eastern seaboard already closed in preparation for the storm, including the New York Stock Exchange and the NASDAQ, as well as thousands of flights cancelled and railway transportation halted, the storm is already costing the economy millions in lost output, productivity and consumer spending. “The effects of the storm could be felt well after the last cloud passes, as power outages and structural damage take days or weeks to repair,” noted John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. “If there is any silver lining in all the destruction the storm is expected to cause, it’s that such storms tend to provide a boost to the economy in their wake. After the initial shocks to the economy related to lost output and productivity, we will probably see an employment surge in construction, skilled trades and other professions needed to help repair the damage. There will also be an increase in business and consumer spending and companies and homeowners replace damaged equipment, household items, etc. While much of it will be paid for with insurance money, the injection of money into the economy will be beneficial nonetheless,” he added. Are there any steps east coast companies can take to lessen the impact of the storm on productivity? How will consumers and companies in other parts of the country feel the economic impact of the storm? What opportunities for economic growth will exist after the storm?
With less than two weeks to go before the opening kick-off in the National Football League season, the estimated 24.3 million Americans who participate in fantasy football leagues will undoubtedly spend several hours in the coming days fine-tuning their draft selections and opening-day rosters. Unfortunately for the nation’s employers, some of the time spent on player research may come during business hours.
According to a very rough, non-scientific, non-verifiable estimate, global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc., if 22.3 million American workers spend one hour each week managing their fantasy football team during the average 15-week fantasy football season, the cost to the nation’s employers in terms of wages paid to unproductive workers could approach $6.5 billion.
“Before fantasy football players around the country launch a letter-writing campaign lambasting our numbers, it is important to realize that even if this figure was verifiable and accurate, it would not even register as a blip on the economic radar,” said noted John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.
“Employers will not see any impact on their bottom line and, for the most part, business will proceed as usual. However, even if the economic impact is faint, it is important to acknowledge fantasy football’s overall impact as a societal and workplace phenomenon. Companies that embrace the growing popularity of this activity could actually see a positive impact, particularly in terms of employee sentiment and loyalty. Those that try to squash employees’ use of time and the company Internet for fantasy football could see consequences far worse than a few distracted workers,” he noted.
How did the firm reach its estimate? It assumed that 8.2 percent of the 24.3 million fantasy football participants (as estimated by the Fantasy Sports Trade Association) are unemployed, leaving about 22.3 million employed team managers. The latest Bureau of Labor Statistics data show that weekly earnings for all Americans in the second quarter averaged $773 or $19.33 per hour. Assuming on the conservative side that fantasy football participants spend one hour each week researching stats and tweaking their rosters, the firm multiplied the $19.33 figure by the 22.3 million employed participants. That results in a dollar amount of approximately $430.9 million each week in unproductive wages paid by employers to fantasy footballers. Multiply that by 15 weeks and the total reaches $6.46 billion. Continue reading