JFF releases 2020 Career Navigation Technology study – Jobcase among ’18 Innovators to Watch’
Jobs for the Future – an organization dedicated to transforming workforce and education systems for equal access to economic advancement – has issued their 2020 analysis of trends and technology for workers and employers. This effort is to help overlooked or underserved people in the workforce make sense of the complex, near-constant changes in career navigation.
Tools, platforms, and resources were considered based on who uses them, who primarily benefits, and what goal they help accomplish. Jobcase is honored to have been chosen, and is dedicated to creating equitable, “people-first” technology to empower workers. Read more at JFF.org.
Jobcase proudly joins the Mass TLC Tech Compact for Social Justice
Last year, Mass TLC’s research determined that only 5% of employees in tech in Massachusetts are Black or African-American, and only 7% are Hispanic or Latino. As an industry, we need to do better. Those who develop technology should represent the diversity of our society, be inclusive of their needs and ideals, and create equitable solutions.
Jobcase stands united with more than 80 tech companies and organizations in Massachusetts to take action for social justice. We believe this is a critical part of building a “people-first” future for the workforce. For more information, visit Mass TLC Tech Compact for Social Justice.
Has the “holiday for workers” forgotten the workers?
It’s hard to believe, but Labor Day 2020 is upon us. From the outbreak of COVID-19 to the economic shutdown, we are in the midst of an “UN” year like no other – unprecedented, unpredictable, with a sharp rise in unemployment that could have some long-lasting effects on our economy. At Jobcase, we figured it might be a good time to take stock of how ‘labor’ is actually doing.
Over the years, most people have developed their own idea of what Labor Day means – probably based on how each of us grew up. So, we surveyed some fellow Americans about their descriptions of Labor Day and expectations for this year, and the answers were quite varied. As it turns out, about 46% of people we asked still think it’s important to recognize workers. But this survey also left us asking, “Who is the modern version of Labor Day actually for?”
Labor Day was conceived as part of the Labor Movement of the late 1800s to recognize and reward the contributions of American workers. At that time, the average American toiled over 70 hours a week in order to barely make a living. Of course, a lot has changed since then. In that spirit, you would think employers on Labor Day 2020 would hold their hourly workers – who have made a huge difference during the pandemic – in particularly high regard. But given the trend of corporations focused on shareholders instead of stakeholders in recent years, we had our doubts. Our research seems to suggest that our instincts weren’t far off.
So, will you be working this Labor Day?
That’s the first question we asked. A solid third of people said ‘yes’ versus about 55% stating that their employers give them the day off. Now, the important thing to note here is that another 8% of workers said they ‘take the day off’ on their own – which implies they don’t usually get it from their employer. So essentially, more than 40% of people are saying they would ordinarily work on a national holiday – for workers.
To gain more perspective, we split up the same answers based on household income – divided by which respondents made more or less than $75,000 per year. Of workers whose employers give them the day off, a much larger percentage are in the higher income bracket. This implies that more salaried workers are celebrating the holiday than hourly workers. It’s also telling in the descriptions of Labor Day (in Chart 1 above), lower income workers were more likely to view Labor Day “as any other day,” “a work day,” or “a chance to make more money.” As one of our respondents mentioned, “it usually means retail and restaurant workers get overlooked.” In other words, low- and high-wage earners don’t always get treated the same way by their employers.
Does anyone want to work on Labor Day?
We wanted to know what workers would prefer to do if given the choice. Even with some people needing the extra money during the pandemic, it turns out that most people would still choose not to work. Only 19% said ‘yes.’ But if we isolate only the unemployed, the percentage of people who want to work increases to 33%. It’s also worth noting that 60% of the explanations mentioned by those that want to work were related to compensation – either getting paid more or needing the money. Fortunately, 45% of people working on Labor Day will be paid more for doing so. That said, only a little more than half of the lower income respondents in our survey will be paid extra to work on a national holiday meant to honor them.
What does this say about current working conditions?
We’ve come a long way from industrial revolution America. Safety protections are in place (especially this year), working environments are far better, and the type of work has changed dramatically due to technology. When asked about working conditions over the last year, the opinions were certainly a mixed bag. 42% said they are better, 37% said they are worse, and 27% claimed to see no difference. All told, about 60% of the comments we received about worsening conditions were related to COVID-19. But it is important to note that much of the research into the economic effects of the crisis has found that low-wage workers have been hit the hardest. As one respondent put it:
“Wages and benefits have not increased, but rent/mortgages, shopping prices, and bills have increased. I dont think employers are prioritizing the well-being of their workers and only focus on their own leadership team.”
Labor Day should reward the efforts of all workers
The original reason for Labor Day was to say to average working people, “you matter and you deserve to be celebrated for your contributions to our society.” They should matter just as much now as they did then. Many of our country’s “essential workers” will be busy at their jobs this Labor Day, while the work-from-home crowd gets to relax. Think about that – it’s an honest reflection of how today’s economy could do so much more to value everyone. So if you’re a company asking your employees to work on Labor Day, pay them more if you can, or consider closing for the day. If you’re someone that gets a day off, be proud that you’ve earned it. And no matter how you spend this Labor Day – all of us should consider who’s getting left out, and what we should be doing about it.
Let’s help US workers Recover Stronger
With millions unemployed, and millions of essential workers risking their health every day, America and capitalism can’t go back to business as usual.
Jobcase is proud to collaborate with Jobs for the Future, Workday, Microsoft, [email protected], Postmates Inc., Walmart, and others to create a post-COVID recovery that is “people-first.” Help us improve the well-being and mobility of workers, and bring a stronger, more equitable economy to life. Please learn more at Recover Stronger.
Jobcase advocates for business practices that put people first. Like a modern version of a union, we elevate the voices and needs of America’s workers, and actively promote worker-centered employers. We encourage companies to adopt the policies below to strengthen their workers, and in turn, their businesses.
Worker-centered Thinking To Help People and Businesses
Make Shareholder Buybacks STAKEHOLDER Buybacks
For several reasons, companies often pay to re-absorb shares of their own stock. This is a great way to apportion their good fortune, but usually benefits only investors and shareholders. We’d like to suggest an alternative to that typical process. Re-invest in everyone who contributes to company success and reward workers for their contributions as well. Offer an employee windfall of 20 cents for every dollar you give to shareholders. Doing this will:
Show your employees you value them. This type of windfall could be life-changing money for the average American. It sends a strong message that management cares about those who create share value, not just those who hold it. And it can improve employee morale and loyalty as well.
Attract talent as a company that practices worker-centered thinking. Simply put, people love to work for employers that do right by their employees. Recruiting becomes easier, which can also mean spending less to find the right candidates.
Create a Pathway to a Living Wage
It’s not always feasible for some employers to pay a living wage for every type of job. But ALL employers should provide a pathway to reach a living wage. How does a pathway differ from paying? By offering a combination of tangible, worker-centered options, companies can help their employees get to where they need to be. The following business actions make a living wage achievable:
Assess and identify “living wage” jobs. Employers should be direct about which jobs deliver take-home wages that meet local cost of living standards, and try to offer as many of these jobs as possible. Offering living wage jobs increases the likelihood that employees will be able to support themselves with less outside distractions. This helps workers and companies.
Embed opportunity pathways for “non-living wage” positions. Roles that are not designated as living wage jobs should have a set of choices, like – clear promotion paths, and predictable, worker-friendly scheduling. This ensures employees will have the flexibility to pursue a living wage – through additional means like second jobs or education – without fear of retribution.
Widen and Diversify the Talent Pool
Many businesses want to improve their workforce and become more inclusive, but overlook an important solution – applicant diversity. This doesn’t just pertain to race, ethnicity, or gender. Certain applicants go unnoticed due to education or background, and their participation in the workforce is good for everyone. These ideas will address this issue and create more access:
Deflate degree requirements for certain jobs. 84% of people in G20 countries have never worn a cap and gown. And yet, many companies seek applicants with formal degrees – often for jobs that shouldn’t require them. Deflating degree standards can help businesses widen their applicant pool, and support the people navigating the changing nature of work.
Help workers move beyond their past. The formerly incarcerated often serve a lifetime sentence absent from the workplace – because no one will hire them. Meanwhile, the military has found that people with a background often perform better and get promoted sooner. Banning the box can help businesses find motivated candidates, and reduce recidivism by helping them become productive members of society.
Encourage Freedom of Movement for Workers
Changes in the modern economy demand that we give people more flexibility to advance. With many working multiple jobs or trying to build more promising careers, employers can have a big impact on how well they succeed. Here are three suggestions on how to help:
Eliminate non-compete agreements. Non-competes are an unnecessary barrier for the average worker, and companies can still protect their interests with confidentiality and non-solicit clauses. Removing them allows people to navigate a constantly-changing job market more easily.
Make employee records and data portable. These days, most people will work for numerous employers over the course of their lifetime, and will need the means to demonstrate their abilities in order to change jobs. Like medical records, letting employees access and share their reviews helps each individual drive the process themselves.
Invest in employee training and education. Access to resources helps people from varying backgrounds develop to their fullest potential. That’s good for them and for your business.
When it Comes to Technology, Think “People-first”
This is a time of exponential growth for the development of new technology, and this requires an approach with forethought – especially as it pertains to work and people. It can be very easy to slip into a focus on innovation itself with little regard to how it affects the average worker. Simply put, technology should be built to help people. The following recommendations will help companies create “people-first” solutions:
Utilize artificial intelligence and machine learning to replace tasks – not jobs. This is where creativity in development can really distinguish great companies from good companies. By using AI and ML to replace dangerous or repetitive tasks, this frees up people to take on more interesting and varied problems that require human thinking. Both the efficiency and added brainpower can be big benefits.
Help workers transition to alternatives when their tasks have been automated. In instances where technology replaces the functions of a person, businesses should share responsibility for that employee’s future. This can be as simple as training workers to do something else instead of downsizing, or putting them on a path to find success elsewhere.
Have other ideas for worker-centered policies? Or know of companies that do these things well? Please tell us! Send a note to [email protected].