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The quicksand that is the world of employment

New York City has a new law in effect in May where an employer trying to fill a position based in New York City will have to advertise the minimum and maximum salary.  One of the strongest pay transparency laws, eight states, and several cities also have laws in effect, and Massachusetts and South Carolina are considering similar moves.  

I’ve covered the four-day workweek before – and while buzz-worthy, it’s not prevalent.   Just 1,700 job postings advertised four-day workweeks for every million listed on Indeed.com in January.  That hasn’t stopped a bill being introduced in California to reduce the standard workweek to 32 hours.

Many firms are just changing their vacation policies.    Twitter added a “day of rest” a month, and Google is increasing parental leave and offering additional vacation time as part of an overhaul of its employee benefits.

For workers, it’s not necessarily a great set of news.  While wages and benefits went up 4% in 2021 than 2020, per the Employment Cost Index out last week, prices grew 4.9% last year, per the core PCE index.  

Americans, in general, are more unhappy than since the data started in 1972.  Per data from Pew, a complete reversal of the “very happy” and “not too happy” responses.    For the first time, Americans are more likely to say they’re not happy than to say they’re very happy.

Per PricewaterhouseCoopers’ (PwC) Executive Views on Business in 2022 Pulse Survey published on Thursday, 43% of business leaders plan to keep hybrid work options for employees, and 30% plan on making remote work a permanent option. In addition, 77% of executives see hiring and retaining employees as the two most important factors to consider in 2022.

Why do we care?

Workers are getting more transparency on pay, have greater choices and perks, are feeling wage pressure due to costs rising, and are generally unhappy.    Anyone wondering why there is upheaval in employment isn’t paying attention – and it speaks to why 77% of executives are focused on hiring and retaining. 

My key observation – often, business news is presented only in the context of the business itself.    Particularly considering the pandemic, that is a dangerous set of blinders right now.    Knowing the context of employee sentiment involves more than just the job conditions.