I was working with a very accomplished client today. He’s held roles in senior management in several industries. When he describes himself, he presents his versatility as an asset. The problem is that few employers would need his full range of skills.
His challenge is to learn what the employer needs and present himself as the solution to that company’s problem. How can he do this? Listen carefully, and ask questions. I urge clients that I coach for interview preparation to ask these two questions
- What are the top three challenges I’ll face in this position?
- Describe someone who has been successful in this role?
These questions will let you understand what an employer needs and present your skills and experience in a way that fits what the company is looking for. Put the employer first, and it will be more likely that you’ll receive good job offers.
The job numbers from last month are exciting. The unemployment rate is down to 5.5%, which is good in itself. However, there is even better news. Bloomberg reports that leading retailers are struggling to keep their lowest paid employees. It will take a while for employers to move the needle up on salary, but this is a good start. Bloomberg depicts the current situation as a conflict of interests between investors and employees. I disagree. As lower paid workers make more money, they will spend, which means everybody wins. The article also demonstrates how much it costs a company to replace employees. The raises leading retail companies have given to their employees can be seen as a way to save costs related to turnover. The news is good. Let’s be happy for a little while.
Laura Clawson of the Daily Kos reports that workers in Virginia have sued a franchisee of McDonald’s, alleging sexual harassment and racially based firings. While the problem is with a franchise owner, the employees appealed to McDonald’s, which did nothing to help them.
I’m not a hater of McDonald’s. I do want the company to pay higher wages, but this case underscores the problem with franchise models. A major company’s brand can be smeared by a local owner who doesn’t follow policies. If McDonald’s wants to turn around its sales and reputation, it needs to spend less time on commercials about love and focus on treating its customers and employees better. If a franchise owner treats employees poorly, the corporation needs to step in and set thing right. We will love McDonald’s if it does the right thing.
I like Jimmy Johns’ sandwiches, but I will never eat them after what I learned today. Why? They treat their employees badly. Raw Story reports (based on a story from Huffington Post) that every employee who works for the company signs a non-compete agreement that would prevent them from working for an sandwich maker for two years. I’ve written about non-compete agreements before. Once upon a time they were a tool used to keep key performers from jumping to competitors. Those employees usually received some kind of compensation that would let them wait out the term of the agreement. Now companies like Jimmy Johns are using non-compete agreements to make it difficult for employees to leave their job. That’s wrong. I will never at Jimmy Johns again
The Washington Post has announced changes to its pension plans. Current employees will have to find some way to fund their retirements. What’s worse is what will happen to those who already have retired. Steven Mufson of The Washington Post writes: “The changes will hit hardest at employees hired before 2009 who could plan on receiving pension payments based on their income and years of service. Each of those employees could see scores — or hundreds — of thousands of dollars less over the course of a retirement. More recent hires do not have traditional pension plans.”
I understand that the newspaper business, like other industries, has to adapt to being smaller. A friend of mine who worked for the Chicago Sun-Times had his pension cut. However, if a pension fund was properly funded, why are such cuts necessary? Every time a company or unit of government cuts benefits to retired people, the excuse is one of necessity. What happened to the money that the employees and the company contributed to the fund? Why do retired employees pay the price instead of executives and stockholders? We need to start asking such questions.
Three cheers to Laura Clawson of Daily Kos for informing her readers of this story, which for retirees is more than a story – it’s a tragedy.
Amy Eddings of Ring of Fire reports on the amazing scope of wage theft. Citing a study by the Economic Policy Institute, Eddings writes that the total amount workers lose through wage theft could be 2-3 times greater than criminal theft as measured by the FBI. Federal and state governments are making efforts to recover lost wages, but those efforts are understaffed. This story reminds us that workers are not just fighting low wages and poor working conditions. Some employers are stealing their employees’ labor. Shouldn’t they be treated like any other thief?
Sarah Jaffe of In These Times reports on an effort in Minnesota to fine companies that pay wages so low that employees have to be on state aid. Take Action Minnesota is promoting what it call the “bad business fee,” a fine for each employee who is working while on some form of federal or state support. Jaffe cites a study that claims Walmart employees receive $6.2 billion per year in some form of assistance. That’s $6 billion the American taxpayer is paying to subsidize the nation’s largest private employer – corporate welfare. Jaffe gives several other compelling examples, and I urge you to read her article.
As progressive radio host Thom Hartmann is fond of saying, a business that can’t pay its employees a living wage shouldn’t be in business. People who work for a living shouldn’t have to rely on services that are meant for the poor or unemployed. If we want to promote the work ethic and the dignity of work, we should be as will to say that all workers deserve a living wage. America needs a raise.
Huffington Post Business offers an interesting article on employee happiness. According to a survey by the website Glassdoor, employees at Costco are happier than higher paid professionals at big name firms. What’s the secret to Costco’s success in making its employees smile? Employees appreciate the company’s healthcare plan. Costco’s CEO is an advocate for raising the minimum wage, and his company pays a minimum of $11.50 an hour. It pays to treat employees well. That’s Costco’s secret. Many employers could learn from its example.
On Sunday, April 13, The Chicago Tribune published a long article about a new trend that is taking money out of working people’s pockets, especially those who can least afford it. Rather than print paychecks, companies are issuing their employees payroll bank cards. Employers do this to save the cost of printing, which sounds like efficiency. The problem is that the employee now is paying fees that range from $1.00 to $13.00. Too often, the people holding these bad cards are low wage workers. If the employee lets his balance run below $20, she has to wait to access funds because ATM machines only dispense $20 bills. Another employee noted that the card only has his employer’s name on it, so it cannot be used as a debit card. Does this sound like a convenience for the employee? No. But it sounds like a great deal for the employer. What else should we expect in the Second Gilded Age?
According to Common Dreams, McDonald’s employees in California, Michigan, and New York are suing both corporate owned stores and franchisees for wage theft. The employees assert that their pay has been lost due to fraud that includes: doctoring time sheets, preventing employees from taking breaks, making them work off the clock and forcing them to pay for uniforms. The workers in these states are trying to come together in a class action suit that could cover over 30,000 employees. If large companies don’t want to pay their employees and don’t want to let them have union protection, the next step will be courts. What popular companies have to hope is that judgments in courts of law are not followed by a worse fate: conviction in the court of public opinion.
- 1 of 2
- next ›