April 19, 2022
Photo: Headway via Unsplash
Welcome back to our Workplace newsletter. There’s an interesting piece of legislation floating around in California that proposes to shorten the workweek from 40 hours to 32, without any reduction in pay: four-day workweek in action. Obviously, this would be huge for Californians and for workers in other states, and there would doubtless be many detractors. I can see this playing out similarly to how salary transparency laws are influencing corporate actions right now, with some companies avoiding states like Colorado that have stricter salary-disclosure laws.
Meanwhile, New York City’s salary-disclosure law is set to take effect May 15. Business groups are working to get the law postponed or changed in the meantime, according to the WSJ. What do you think of these types of legislation? Let me know: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Today: How companies can support their employees battling long COVID, how tech workers *really* feel about returning to the office, and why certain office perks don’t matter.
— Michelle Ma, reporter (email | twitter)
For millions of Americans, COVID-19 symptoms didn’t stop after a few weeks — and that’s a huge problem for the workplace. Symptoms like brain fog, fatigue and muscle pain can linger for months, with no clear end in sight for some patients. Long COVID has led an estimated 1 million Americans to leave the workforce altogether, and one study found that 45% of long-COVID patients had cut back on their hours.
This is a wakeup call for people-leaders and managers. Employers should treat long COVID like any other disability: with an interactive process to find appropriate accommodations. But what makes the condition different from others is that it’s new to everyone, and most patients are still figuring out how to adapt, said Ted Drake, Intuit’s global accessibility leader.
Educate both employees and managers on long COVID. Some managers at Intuit knew their employees were dealing with medical issues, but didn’t realize those symptoms were connected to long COVID, Drake said.
Encourage open communication with trust. Workers won’t be forthcoming about their long-COVID diagnosis if they’re afraid it will negatively affect their employment or standing at the workplace.
One more thing: Get ready to pay more for health care. Where employer health care costs have historically risen 5% to 7% per year, companies should expect to see premiums rise 8% to 10% this year, said Brian Kropp, Gartner’s chief of HR Research.
Above all, be proactive about long COVID. Educate managers and employees and offer open lines of communication.
Depends on who you ask. My colleague Allison Levitsky braved the mean streets of San Francisco, specifically Salesforce Park, for the latest installment of her fun series, “Ask a Tech Worker.” With many major tech companies calling their employees back to the office, the response has been, well, mixed. Just browse any forum on Blind, and it’s clear tech workers are unhappy about being forced to go in when they’ve proven they can do their jobs just as well, if not better, at home. Levitsky spoke with some folks who had different opinions on office life. One CEO observed: “If you don’t trust someone to work from home, you shouldn’t have hired them, or they shouldn’t be on the team in the first place.”
100% of C-suite staff surveyed by Workplace by Meta said that frontline workers were a strategic priority for their business in 2022, but nearly two in three of them said that keeping their frontline staff, who bear the brunt of the stresses of the workplace most acutely, had only become a priority since the pandemic hit.
Workers are going back to the office, but few of them are going back five days a week. Here are some tools you can use to show whether you’ll be in-office on a certain day. Using tech like this is helpful for employee bonding, but also for contact tracing.
How’s your office handling this? Let me know if your team has a foolproof method for organizing office schedules.
Samsung and Oxford Economics released a study this week about how companies are rethinking their BYOD mobile strategy as they head back to the office. In particular, the study found that mobile stipends are no longer a unique perk. Everybody’s doing it.
A group of Apple workers at the company’s Grand Central flagship store are trying to form a union. If successful, they’d be the first group of unionized Apple employees.
Businesses are starting to turn to workplace communication tools. Such tools enable frontline workers to feel more connected to the rest of their business, to raise concerns and to provide feedback on potential pain points or points of improvement. By bridging that divide, companies can unlock new savings and efficiencies, and build a business that can last for the long run.
A roundup of workplace news from the farthest corners of the internet.
Verizon raised minimum wage to $20 an hour for U.S. employees.
Workers, relax: Your odds of getting laid off are at historic lows right now.
A gem from Anne Helen Petersen: People today are doing what used to be the jobs of two or three people.There are big changes coming for tech workers. A lot of it has to do with salary disclosure laws.
Thoughts, questions, tips? Send them to email@example.com. Have a great day, see you Thursday.