Monthly Archives: March 2014

Burning the Midnight Oil….Yes or No?

When the boss works late, does that mean staff has to follow suit?

Many employees worry that even if they put in hours beyond the regular workday, their bosses—who work even longer days—expect them to match the same schedule. Such assumptions can be disastrous. Employees may feel the need to sneak out of the office, or conversely, stay and neglect home responsibilities. A manager may worry that the employee who leaves early or even at the usual end-of-work hour is unavailable or will miss a deadline.

Experts have advice about this common workplace situation.

1. Check your assumptions. Clarify the manager’s expectations. Don’t immediately assume that the boss expects you to match his or her schedule. The manager’s reasons for working long hours may simply be a personal preference.

2. Be a team player. Working after hours occasionally shows the boss you’re willing pitch in, especially if a major deadline looms. Pick a time to stay when the boss is actually there to see your effort.

3. Reassure your boss. When a manager questions an employee about the number of hours on the job, the reason is usually to feel reassured that a deadline will be met. If that’s the case, be ready to show the boss your progress to allay those concerns. Keep a progress report to illustrate you’re on track.

Discussion: Why do experts say employees shouldn’t try to imply they are in the office by, say, leaving a coat draped over their chair? How might you begin to negotiate with a manager who expects you be available beyond traditional work hours and you are unable to do so? How has technology such as e-mail and cell phones added to employees’ workdays?

Source: Shellenbarger, S. (2014, February 19). When the boss works long hours, do we all have to? The Wall Street Journal, p. D1.

Case Study: Raise the Minimum Wage? Employee Says Yea

As one of more than twenty minimum-wage employees at Carly’s Catering in Omaha, Nebraska, you are closely following the national debate about raising the minimum wage. Your employer, Carly Herrera, has a three-year-old catering business that provides exceptional meals and top-notch service to businesses and individuals looking to cater events, weddings, and other large parties.ID-100105597

Your job as a “cater-waiter” is high pressure because Carly demands efficient, versatile, and personable help. And while you sometimes earn tips, you mostly rely on your hourly wage, which is the minimum required by law. Turnover at Carly’s is high because many employees just don’t think the job is worth it, and during the recent holiday rush, several of your co-workers quit unexpectedly.

You research the issue and find the following facts:

  • Many economists say an increase in the minimum wage will spur consumer spending and help the weak economy.
  • Twenty-one states and the District of Columbia already have higher minimum wages than the federal level.
  • Nebraska lawmakers have introduced a bill to increase the minimum wage from the current $7.25/hour.
  • Scholarly studies show that the cost increase to employers is offset by lower turnover and higher productivity.

Your task. Write a persuasive request e-mail to Carly in which you ask her to consider raising the minimum wage at Carly’s Catering.


Recent College Grads Job Struggles Put in Historical Context

The news is replete with reports about the dismal plight of recent college graduates looking for work. But a recent report by the Federal Bank of New York puts the data in historical context and shows that despite the Great Recession, recent college grads are actually ahead of young workers without a college degree and all workers in general.

According to the report, recent college grads have indeed had a harder time landing jobs than college graduates overall. The average unemployment rate for recent college graduates from 1990 to 2013 is 4.3%; for all college graduates, the rate is 2.9%. But that still beats the high rates for young workers without a degree and all workers on the whole.

What is new, however, is that morecent-college-grads-graphre recent college graduates are now underemployed, or working in jobs that do not require a college degree.

And that group is experiencing poor prospects. In the 1990s, approximately half of underemployed recent grads were in “good” jobs, defined in the report as jobs in occupations such as electricians and dental hygienists, which do not require a degree but that are career oriented and well compensated. By 2009, the percentage of those jobs fell by 36%.

The report found that unemployment rates for recent college graduates—defined as those with a bachelor’s degree and between 22 and 27 years old—peaked at around 7% in 2010. That figure reflects graduates working in any job, no matter how low paying.

Unemployment rates for recent grads varied by major, with the highest rates occurring in architecture, construction, the liberal arts, and social sciences. The lowest rates of unemployment were found among those entering the health and education fields.

The study’s authors reported that unemployment and underemployment among recent college graduates is not uncommon in both good and bad economic times, and that by the time the new workers reach their late 20s, they tend to find jobs that use their educations.

Download a .pdf of the report here.