SOUNDING OFF

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You can learn a lot by observing and asking questions. But to shake things up, you have to get real ticked off about the important things that need fixing. The dangerous alternative is complacency.

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Older Workers Can’t Win

Older Women Hit Hardest By Economic Downturns Face Challenging Job Market

Financial Pressures on the Rise Among Working Americans

How About New Information about the Baby Boomer Dilemma?

Companies Desperate for Salespeople — How-to Be Successful in Sales Goldmine Market for Publishers

Older Workers Can’t Win

Despite companies’ insistence that they don’t discriminate against older workers, the truth is the cards are stacked against older workers. Evidence is abundant that they’d rather hire younger workers over older ones for a number reasons. The disturbing truth is many older workers can’t return to the kind of jobs they once held, and if they find comparable jobs, they’re not likely to be paid salaries commensurate with their experience. So they either wind up taking any job they can latch onto, usually at insulting, demeaning pay.

If things weren’t bad enough for older workers, the AFL-CIO recently released its annual Death on the Job Report, which found that there was an increase in the number of job fatalities in 2014 (most recent figure available). Here are the Report’s important findings:

·   The biggest increases were in fatalities among older workers. Workers 65 and older now have a fatality rate 3 times the national average.

·   The number and rate of job fatalities among Latino workers declined in 2014; the numbers and rates for all other races increased.

·   The states with the highest fatality rates were Wyoming, North Dakota, Alaska, South Dakota and Mississippi.

·   Workplace violence remains a serious and persistent problem. Over the years, while the job injury rate has declined; injuries/injury rate due to workplace violence has increased, particularly for workers in healthcare. Women workers suffer 66% of the lost time injuries due to workplace violence.

·   OSHA’s resources are declining and its capacity to inspect workplaces is getting worse. For FY 2015, federal OSHA could inspect workplaces on average once every 145 years; in 1992 when the first DOTJ report was issued, OSHA could inspect workplaces once every 84 years.

·   OSHA penalties remain low. The median penalty for killing a worker was $7,000 for federal OSHA; $3,500 for the state plans.

·   Only 89 worker death cases have been criminally prosecuted under the OSHAct since 1971.

·   Workers won a major victory in 2016 — the final OSHA silica standard was issued which will prevent more than 600 deaths and prevent nearly 1,000 cases of silicosis a year.

·   There is still much work to do and major challenges ahead as employers and republicans are trying to roll back protections, including the new silica rule, block new protections and cut funding.                          

Bottom line: The nation needs to renew its commitment to protect workers from injury, disease and death and make protecting workers a higher priority.

Posted on: April 29, 2016 02:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)

Older Women Hit Hardest By Economic Downturns Face Challenging Job Market

New research from the St. Louis Federal Reserve suggests that when the 2008 crash caused a massive surge in unemployment, the hardest hit were older job seekers, particularly women.

Following the crash, the chances of being unemployed long term more than doubled for people over 65. Before the crash in 2007, 14 percent of women over 65 were unemployed for longer than 27 weeks; in 2013, over 50 percent were. In contrast, 23 percent of older men were unemployed long-term in 2007, and 48 percent were in 2013.

Economist Teresa Ghilarducci discusses why the job market is harder for aging women than aging men in her new book, “How To retire With Enough Money and How to Know What Enough is.”

Below, Ghilarducci explains what older women face in the job market and some tips on how to beat the odds.

  1. Make it easy for employers to see your worth. Demonstrate that you will solve their problem by showing specifically why your life experience — even if it includes years off to care for a sick parent — makes you a savvy strategist.
  2. Make it hard for a potential employer to know your age. Leave off dates you graduated from various schools.
  3. Follow economist Peter Cappelli’s advice to write your resume so a computer picks you out among thousands of applicants.
  4. Research indicates that a white lie of omission might be necessary. If you are college educated and had to take a low-level job while you were looking for a professional one, you might want to leave it off your resume. Research suggests that older, college-educated women who took a low-level job while they were searching for a professional position received fewer callbacks than those who didn’t have low-level positions on their resumes.
  5. Stay on top of technological advances. Technological proficiency isn’t a destination, it’s a journey — and an ongoing one. Tech literacy makes you look hirable to an employer and advances in technology tend to make jobs easier, not harder — if they didn’t, they wouldn’t replace old methods.
  6. Make and keep friends in your line of work. Networking was a popular concept of the 1990s because it paid off. It still does. If you’ve been laid off, connections and goodwill are incredibly important to getting the next job. People will pick up the phone and talk to someone they know and like. They’re much less likely to answer a phone message with an unfamiliar name and number attached.
  7. Have reasonable expectations. It’d be ideal to keep working in your chosen field, but that may not be possible. Statistics tell us that employers in manufacturing, finance, insurance, wholesale trade, scientific and technical services, arts and entertainment and the recreation industry all have a strong bias toward hiring younger people. However, older workers may find jobs in home health care, retail trade, management, administrative support, waste management services, education, health care and the social assistance sector. Those professions may not sound as interesting as your old one, but new challenges are fun and exciting.

 

 

Posted on: April 29, 2016 01:50 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Financial Pressures on the Rise Among Working Americans

If the pressure and tension accompanying building a career aren’t enough to contend with, a recent poll found that money is a leading source of stress for millions of Americans.  And the number of people impacted by personal financial worries seems to be growing rather than shrinking.

 “Beyond marriage and personal relationships, money has been most Americans’ leading source of stress for decades,” said Dean Debnam, CEO of HR consulting company, Workplace Options. Raleigh, North Carolina-based Workplace Options sponsored the poll.

 “The fact that most people are worried about their financial situation is nothing new,” Debnam said. However, the “growing number reporting higher stress levels due to money concerns is definitely alarming.”

According to the poll, eight in nine working Americans (88 percent) are stressed or worried on some level about their personal financial situation, or that of their family.  A troublesome finding is that 55 percent said their level of stress had reached either moderate (27 percent) or significant (28 percent) levels — up from 48 percent who reported the same just a year ago.

The overwhelming majority of respondents (69 percent) said that their financial situation is on their mind several times throughout a week, and 44 percent said it was a daily concern.

Negative impact on workplace

Approximately seven in 10 workers (68 percent) said that they use time during the workday to deal with personal financial matters, up from 59 percent in 2015. And the number of workers who reported taking time off work to deal with a personal financial situation, or the stress accompanying it, has risen from 36 percent in 2015 to 51 percent in 2016.

“When any variable begins to impact employee productivity, performance, or attendance, the business community will take notice,” Debnam said.   The result is the concept of financial education or financial support for employees is “gaining traction with large and mid-sized employers,” he added.

Among respondents, 40 percent said they had spoken to a professional for assistance with their financial situation or the stress accompanying it,  while 42 percent said their employer offered support or benefit programs designed to help employees with money matters. 

The national survey also found the following among employed Americans:

  • Men and women reported the exact same levels of elevated stress due to financial concerns — 55 percent of each group indicated they were moderately or significantly worried.
  • Men (54 percent) were slightly more likely than women (48 percent) to report missing work because of personal financial matters.
  • Men (73 percent) were also slightly more likely than women (66 percent) to take time off during the work day to address their personal finance issues. 
  • Younger workers (age 18 to 45) reported the highest amounts of money-related stress — 64 percent said they are moderately or significantly worried about their financial situation compared to 48 percent from other age groups.  However, younger workers (age 18 to 45) were also less likely to have sought out professional assistance for their financial or stress issues — 37 percent compared to 44 percent among other age groups.
Posted on: April 29, 2016 01:46 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

How About New Information about the Baby Boomer Dilemma?

It’s upsetting when respected institutions of higher learning are out of step with the times and present old information and advice.  These are the revered information sources reporters look to for cutting-edge observations, and smart insights.  A good example is a 2015 study conducted by the Georgia Institute of Technology (GIT), which has turned out a slew of insightful, meticulously researched studies about the workplace and state of the job market.

My image and faith in GIT was tarnished when I read its 2015 study about baby boomers’ difficulty landing jobs. What I thought would be new observations and conclusions about the job market for older workers turned out to be a rehash of old information.  Much of it I covered in my book, “So What If I’m 65”; the first edition was published in 2012.  I didn’t take credit for facts and statistics used to support my observations and conclusions. The sources were appropriately credited.  And many of them had already been published, but not in the same context I used them. 

There is little point in regurgitating all the information in the GIT’s study in question. Here are a few facts in the GIT study that illustrate my disappointment.  

GIT’s professor of industrial relations Connie Wanberg said, “There’s very robust evidence that as an individual moves beyond age 50, they experience a large penalty toward how quickly they will find a job.” 

The Study went on to say that older adults looking for jobs “should expect to search for jobs weeks longer and receive fewer offers than their younger counterparts.”

The above statement is yesterday’s news. The GIT study cited the US government’s 2014 Displaced Worker Survey, which said that “someone 50 years or older is likely to be unemployed 5.8 weeks longer than someone between the ages of 30 and 49, and 10.6 weeks longer than individuals ages 20 to 29. Further, the odds of being re-employed decrease by 2.6 percent for each one-year increase in age.”

I was upset that important points were either missed or glossed over. Ruth Kanfer, coauthor of the study published in the journal, Psychological Bulletin, said, “The obstacles to re-employment success stem not just from employer views about older workers, but also from age-related differences in knowledge, skills, and abilities, and the kind of jobs people want.”  

Why wasn’t anything said about how organizations have been discriminating against qualified older candidates for decades simply because they’re over 50 or 60 and don’t fit the organizational image, and that they have little choice to take either menial jobs or positions they’re overqualified for at insulting salaries. And that a national treasure—the nation’s older, experienced workforce — is going to seed.

Yet, I remain optimistic and hopeful that Georgia Institute of Technology simply slipped, and missed a beat on this study. Hopefully, its next study will be a winner, and not only focus on the critical issues, but offer suggestions for correcting them.

Posted on: March 29, 2016 02:45 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

Companies Desperate for Salespeople — How-to Be Successful in Sales Goldmine Market for Publishers

Good or hard times, companies are constantly hiring salespeople. The new twist is that tech companies are complaining that close behind IT/engineers, sales positions are hardest to fill, according to a study commissioned by San Francisco, California software company ToutApp.

The study examined sales hiring and recruitment. The study, which polled HR managers from US-based technology companies in January, 2016, found that 80 percent of the companies are investing in hiring sales professionals.

Fifteen percent of the companies polled said they would be investing the same amount as 2015 and 2 percent said spending on salespeople would decline this year compared to 2015.

ToutApp CE0 and founder Tahweed (TK) Kader said that “after IT and product engineering, sales have really become the key to competitive advantage within most technology companies today.”

Kader added, “From business development to deal closure, revenue is directly attributed to the success and effectiveness of your team. The more you invest in bringing in the best people, the better positioned you are against the competition.”

Why technical sales professionals are hard to find 

Said Kader: “As tech companies scale, servers and storage capacity may be infinite, but there is still a limited number of humans they can hire and train to sell.”

HR managers complain that finding qualified technical salespeople is only part of the problem, retaining and recruiting talent, and maintaining productivity are also pressing problems.

Since this is an industry-wide problem, tech companies are aggressively competing for the best and brightest.  Companies are pulling out all the stops to find talent. They’re retaining executive search firms with a proven industry track record, and they’re mining social media to find talent in the throes of changing jobs.

Said Kader, “When it comes to finding sales talent in Silicon Valley or Silicon Alley, the struggle is real and will only become a bigger challenge in 2016. Companies are investing in sales or else they risk falling behind.”

Finding sales talent is only part of the problem; retaining them is equally difficult.  The study found that the average tenure of a sales rep within most technology organizations is 3-4 years (28%). The top-three tenures identified were 3-4 years; 2-3 years (26%); and 4-5 years (21%).

Because of the constant demand for experienced salespeople, books about how to be a successful salesperson are consistent revenue source for publishers.  A recent edition to the hundreds of sales books on the market is Bill S. Wooditch’s “Always Forward! Discover The 7 Secrets Of Sales Success.” (Wooditch was quoted in my last blog, posted March 17.)

The obvious problem with most of these how-to books is information is presented as gospel, when in fact it’s just one successful salesperson’s opinion. But I don’t hold the writers responsible. Publishers ought to be called on the carpet for not presenting information in a truthful context.  

Posted on: March 28, 2016 12:07 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
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