Older Job Seekers In Demand

Recent reports reveal the challenge older job seekers face in the current hiring environment, with more than one-third of those 55 and older experiencing prolonged joblessness lasting longer than a year.  However, the situation for older workers is not entirely grim.  In fact, a new analysis of employment trends reveals that this segment of the population is enjoying the strongest job gains of any age group.

The analysis of government labor data by global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. found that job seekers age 55 and older account for nearly 70 percent of the employment gains since January 1, 2010.

Overall, the number of employed Americans has increased by 4,319,000 between January 2010 and May 2012, according to household survey data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.  Older job seekers – those 55 and up – accounted for 2,998,000 or 69 percent of the total employment growth. Continue reading

SURVEY RESULTS: Employer Try To Protect Perks Amid Downturn

The weak economy is taking an increasingly heavy toll on jobs, with announced workforce reductions up 30 percent from a year ago. However, despite the need to cut costs, a new survey finds that a majority of companies are doing whatever it takes to preserve the perks their employees have grown to value. Surprisingly, many are still even planning to hand out year-end bonus checks.

The survey found that 57 percent of companies have been able to retain their existing perks. Another 10 percent are considering cuts in their perks packages, but have taken no action as yet.

Surprisingly, only 20 percent of companies have had to cut or eliminate perks as part of their cost-containment measures. About 35 percent of these companies were compelled to cut perks in order to save jobs.

In addition to holding on to perks, 50 percent of companies plan to give out year-end bonuses. Only four percent said the plan to reduce the size of bonus checks, while 23 percent said bonuses will be about the same as last year.

A survey of 607 human resource executives conducted by BNA, a business research and publish firm in Arlington, Virginia, and back office outsourcing provider ADP found that, despite the softer economy, 34 percent identified recruitment and retention as their top priority.

Companies that eliminate year-end bonuses and perks or cut them to the bone will probably discover that employee loyalty and productivity are greatly diminished. Employers may not see the impact during the downturn, when it is more difficult for unhappy workers to leave for greener pastures, but they will feel it when the economy improves.

Some companies learned this lesson the hard way following the 2001 recession and subsequent jobless recovery that lasted well into 2003. Other companies learned that they can provide perks that are highly valued by employees, yet cost the company very little, if not nothing.

In fact, 35 percent of the human resource executives surveyed who said that their companies were not cutting perks indicated that they utilized low-cost perks, which precluded the need for cutbacks.

Offering amenities such as casual work attire, early dismissal on Fridays during the summer, and pet-friendly offices are just a few examples of perks that are extremely popular among workers and, because they add no costs to the bottom line, companies are not forced to cut them in rough times.

Low-cost incentives can go a long way in building employee morale. Money is not the only or even single most important factor in whether an employee is happy with their job. Factors like work environment and flexible schedules as well as career advancement and promotional opportunities contribute heavily to job satisfaction.

Are your companies paring back perks? What do you see going on?

CEO Turnover Skyrockets! As Economy Cools, Pressured Chiefs Feel The Heat

As the economy continues its volatile ride, chief executive turnover has reached the highest nine-month total on record and is on a pace to surpass the 2006 year-end record, according to a report by global outplacement and executive coaching consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

So far this year, 1,132 CEO departures have been announced, a nine percent increase from the 1,043 CEO exits recorded through September 2007. At this point in 2006, which saw a record 1,478 CEO changes, departures totaled 1,112.

If CEO changes continue at their current level, we could surpass the 2006 total before the end of November. With many companies, including banks, retailers and manufacturers, at risk of takeover or failure, the odds of further CEO departures are high.

September CEO turnover data showed that 140 CEOs left their posts last month, nearly matching the 144 departures recorded in August. The September total was 25 percent higher than the 112 CEO exits in the same month a year ago.

Of the 140 CEO departures in September, only 35 were retirements. Forty-four resigned and another 31 stepped down. The health care sector saw the heaviest turnover, with nearly 41 percent of the 27 September departures resulting from retirement. Meanwhile, the tumultuous financial sector had 18 CEO changes, with 12 (66.7 percent) resigning, stepping down or falling victim to bankruptcy and the credit collapse.

It’s a tough time to be a financial sector CEO, although you will not find too much sympathy for these individuals in the general public. They are coming under fire for taking home enormous salaries and severance packages even as their firms were crumbling around them.

Richard Fuld, the CEO of bankrupt Lehman Brothers, who has managed to hang on to his position for the time being, was on Capital Hill this week answering lawmakers’ questions about the hundreds of millions he has been paid since 2000. We may see more outgoing CEOs follow the lead of Robert Willumstad, the outgoing CEO of insurance giant AIG, which had to be rescued by the federal government. He decided not to take his severance package in light of his failure to turn the company around.

Workplace Trends Of The Future

In honor of the 60th Annual SHRM conference, this year being held in our very own Chicago, IL, we are introducing a weekly segment entitled “Workplace Trends of the Future!” Cue blaring trumpets, triumphant violins!

Each Wednesday for as long as we have interesting new trends, we will post a prediction for the workplace based on the vigorous research and analysis of Challenger experts. We’ll discuss things like hiring policies, the global workforce, the future of health benefits, wellness programs and office design.

Check back each week for an interesting prediction and feel free to share your own experiences in the workplace.

Gas Prices Change Everything

We came across an interesting report this morning on high gas prices (there are so many these days). Sales of manual or electric lawn mowers are rising, albeit modestly, while more common, gasoline-powered mower sales are dropping off, according to this AP report. Consumers are evidently looking anywhere they can to cut costs as summer gas prices gear up…and up and up.

We’ve already written about the harsh consequences of ever-rising gas prices: stay-at-home vacations, employer-aided transportation costs, 4-day work weeks, etc. Our firm recently took a survey which found that over 50 percent of employers are helping workers with increased gas costs – something CEO John Challenger discussed on the Today Show.

Here are a few ways to cut down on gas costs:

4-day work weeks

Organized car pools

Employer-subsidized public transportation

Shuttle services


Bicycling or walking to work

What has your company done, if anything?

Another Use For Technology!

This morning, Stephanie Armour penned a story for the USA Today entitled “Real Estate Agents Court Gen Y” on new tactics to drum up business during this seemingly unending housing slump. Housing starts dropped to the lowest level since 1991 in May, according to the Housing Department in this AP report, and the market does not seem to be picking up.

So, what are real estate agents doing to adapt? According to Armour, they’re targeting those in their twenties, who have just graduated college and are beginning their careers, perhaps gotten their first salary and are ready to put down a mortgage in this buyers-market. And how are real estate agents targeting them? Facebook!

Fading are the days of direct mailings, classified ads and billboards. To get to this ever-important consumer base, marketers are going digital: Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, YouTube – all online. As the technologically-gifted youths grow into the technologically-savvy adult population, with fewer children to feed and more cash to spend, advertisers are hitting their computers to create fancy internet ads and eye-grabbing social networking pages.

No doubt this will translate into digital recruiting efforts in the workplace. Employers are going to have to beef up their web presence, possibly on these growing social networking sites, to stay competitive for the best talent. Job seekers are increasingly turning to the internet, if not completely, and using web tools that are already available and are already very popular among the entry-level age group can only greatly benefit hiring companies.

Have you used social networking sites as recruitment tools? Could you see your company using this technology?

Sleeping At The Office: Yea or Nay?

It’s summer. It’s hot. After those big lunch meetings, sitting outside with potential clients, having a burger or a heavy salad, the natural thing to do is nod off, right?

Maya Dollarhide of LifeWire wrote a piece featured on CNN Money about just this phenomenon found here. More workers are napping at work, and more companies aren’t finding anything wrong with it. What could this do to the workplace?

As employees work increasingly long hours and take their jobs home with them, nap time, once reserved for pre-schoolers and kindergarteners, is making an appearance in the workplace, and receiving mixed reactions. Some say it increases focus, productivity and company loyalty, while others say the opposite – it lowers productivity and ignores the real issue that people aren’t getting enough sleep at night.

Some companies are using nap-areas or sleep stations as recruitment tools, giving employees 20 minutes to doze as a perk. Google Inc. supplies workers with an area to nod off including a specially designed chair to keep out light. Other companies mentioned in Dollarhide’s story offer meditation rooms with inviting couches and lounge chairs on which to rest those lids.

Ultimately, companies cite the need to keep their employees healthy as a reason for such measures. Employers say nap times increase productivity and keep workers focused and alert when they aren’t sleeping. And most employees like the fact that they can leave their desks and take a quick snooze after lunch to refresh for the rest of the workday.

And it makes sense to offer naps. According to a study conducted by health insurer MBF last year in Australia, over 50 percent of workers said they don’t sleep well at night and cited work as the cause. If work is causing employees to lose sleep, it seems natural that companies would offer some sort of restitution – no pun intended.

Despite the seeming benefits of office nap times, as with other company benefits, this could be abused. Instead of a 20-30 minute power-nap, employees could take 2-hour siestas during work hours. This could be overlooked if your employees work 12-hour days, but what if they don’t? And what if those power naps do nothing more than leave workers groggy and wanting more sleep time? That couldn’t possibly be good for productivity.

All in all, employers must look at their individual culture to decide if nap times are right for them. In some situations, it could be a perfect remedy for tired workers.

What’s The Deal With Women In The Workplace?

Will The Current Economic Conditions Preclude A Surge In Women Advancement?

Hillary Clinton’s historic bid for president seems to be coming to a decisive end. Peggy Orenstein, contributing writer for the New York Times, discussed what the Senator’s run may actually mean to women and young girls in this article.

To date, 42 out of 396 (10.6 percent) CEO replacements this year are women, according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. which tracks CEO departures and replacements daily. In 2007, 11.8 percent or 121 out of 1,020 CEO replacements were women. Only 12 women head Fortune 500 companies.

A BusinessWeek study found that men have suffered significant job losses under the current economic downturn, even as women continue to gain jobs. This is probably explained by the fact that the industries bleeding jobs are historically male-dominated: construction, financial, real estate, etc. Meanwhile, the positions being created are ones traditionally held by women: teachers, nurses, home health aids, etc.

Women are receiving more college degrees – and at the top of their classes, no less – than men. A Princeton Review article finds almost as many women are entering law, medical and veterinary schools as men. Women make up only 30 percent of business school enrollees, but their numbers are growing quickly. Yet, despite these gains, women still earn a fraction of what men do for the same work.

Lisa Belkin of the New York Times discussed this issue as well in her May 18th article “Diversity Isn’t Rocket Science, Is It?” Why does it seem that so many highly educated women aren’t pursuing careers in law, medicine and business?

One answer that many experts point to is the obvious: women start families. What is more time-consuming and challenging than rearing children? But there are thousands of mothers who are at the same time reaching the top of their fields.

It will be interesting to see if role-reversal occurs as a result the current economic conditions, with more men staying at home with the children, while their degree-holding wives start or further their careers as engineers, lawyers and doctors. Perhaps a growing number of men will begin to breakout from traditional gender roles and turn toward nursing and teaching, where jobs are more plentiful. Or maybe, after the downturn has run it course, we will blindly continue down the same path with men dominating jobs in business, science and heavy labor, and women poorly represented among the upper ranks of corporate America, which, in our opinion, would be an unfortunate step in the wrong direction.

Blogging: The Next Generation

We at Challenger have been receiving a lot of positive feedback on our workplace blog – and we thank you! But we’ve also received a lot of interesting insights from office workers of all ages about blogging and technology in general. Which leads us to this question: Are blogging and other forms of new technology generational?

The face of the workplace has changed drastically over the last 15 years. Most workplaces depend on technology now, from pc’s to blackberrys, email to text messages, scanners, antivirus security, pdf’s, url’s, LinkedIn, blogs, iPhones, and scores of other technological tools that are being developed as we speak.

Could it be that not everyone is comfortable with this new technology? Absolutely. However, if all workers get their hands into these new tools (keep in mind, they are only communication tools), we may be closer to expanding comfort levels and bridging that generational gap.

For example, we encourage discussion on our entries; however, due to Blogspot’s policies, you must have an e-mail, livejournal, AOL instant messaging or similar account to leave comments. Some employees do not have any of these accounts, perhaps due to discomfort with the technology or perhaps because they see no reason to have such accounts. We realize that it’s pretty forward of us to assume you would open an account just to leave comments on our blogs. But maybe you should open these accounts just to see what all the talk is about. Learn the tools, try to put them in place, see what potential is there. Also, comment on our entries.

Most parents with teenagers – or even younger these days – have heard of text messaging, MySpace and blogging. However, they may not have actually worked with any of these things. One worker told us that he will respond to text messages from his children, but he would never initiate text messaging. This is probably the attitude of many workers new to the idea of this technology. I’ll read a blog, but I won’t start one. I’ll think about these issues, but I won’t post a comment. I’ll check out your networking site, but I won’t become part of it.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that. However, more and more companies are using these tools as part of their marketing mix, operations, employee management and recruiting. By ignoring or dismissing the latest technologies, individuals may be missing important opportunities – opportunities for advancement, opportunities for new positions or opportunities to simply be heard. Without at least testing these new tools, you’ll never know what you may be missing, either in your professional career or your personal life.

So, are blogging and other forms of new technology generational? And if they are, should they be?
(Image courtesy newsimg.bbc.co.uk/media/images)