Source: SHRM, 2020
Communicable diseases like coronavirus and the respiratory illness it causes, COVID-19, can bring a busy workforce to a standstill. Look below for the latest news and updates, as well as critical member-only resources. In addition, here is key information to help you to work your way through the pandemic:
- Review our coverage most read by SHRM members, plus a complete list of all content we’ve published on COVID-19.
- Visit our resource page on Remote Work guidance and best practices.
- Compare policies regarding layoffs, furloughs and pay cuts on the Employee Termination and Layoffs resource page.
- Explore our COVID-19 Express Requests to learn about the CARES Act and much more.
Source: Nathan Wilmers, Administrative Science Quarterly, OnlineFirst, Published February 25, 2020
From the abstract:
What explains pay inequality among coworkers? Theories of organizational influence on inequality emphasize the effects of formal hierarchy. But restructuring, firm flattening, and individualized pay setting have challenged the relevance of these structuralist theories. I propose a new organizational theory of differences in pay, focused on task structure and the horizontal division of labor across jobs. When organizations specialize jobs, they reduce the variety of tasks performed by some workers. In doing so they leave exclusive job turf to other coworkers, who capture the learning and discretion associated with performing a distinct task. The division of labor thus erodes pay premiums for some workers while advantaging others through job turf. I test this theory with linked employer–employee panel data from U.S. labor unions, which include a type of data that is rarely collected: annual reporting on work tasks. Results show that reducing task variety lowers workers’ earnings, while increasing job turf raises earnings. When organizations reduce task variety for some workers, they increase job turf for others. Without assuming fixed job hierarchies and pay rates, interdependencies in organizational task allocation yield unequal pay premiums among coworkers.
Source: Gary E. Hollibaugh Jr., Matthew R. Miles, Chad B. Newswander, Public Administration Review, Volume 80 Issue 1, January/February 2020
From the abstract:
Employee recalcitrance and employer reprisal are ever‐present conditions in public service. Yet we have limited knowledge of the forces that move administrators away from acquiescence and toward antagonism. The authors follow the theoretical thrust of behavioral public administration to better understand administrative behavior by targeting the determinants of guerrilla government actions. They do so by presenting the results of a conjoint experiment embedded in a survey of federal bureaucrats. Findings show that decisions to pursue guerrilla activities are conditional on a multitude of factors—namely, the bureaucrat’s personal views of the directive as a policy solution, the compatibility of the directive with the bureaucrat’s ethical framework, the status of the person issuing the directive, and the probability that the directive might cause harm to others. Notably, these decisions generally are not affected by the probability of retribution or the expected type thereof. However, they are affected by the magnitude of harm that may ensue if orders are obeyed and not resisted.
Evidence for Practice
– Ethics matter. When employees see that a policy might contribute to considerable human suffering, the likelihood of guerrilla government activities (“the actions taken by career public servants who work against the wishes—either implicitly or explicitly communicated—of their superiors”) increases.
– Managers should seek to persuade employees of the moral fabric of their decisions, which is one option that may curtail guerrilla government behaviors.
– Managers should be aware that the probability of punishing employees does not significantly deter their acts of guerrilla government.
– Managers should also be aware that the type of retribution employees may suffer does not significantly deter their decision to engage in guerrilla activities.
Source: Ryan Gallagher, Bloomberg, October 24, 2019
Google employees are accusing the company’s leadership of developing an internal surveillance tool that they believe will be used to monitor workers’ attempts to organize protests and discuss labor rights.
Earlier this month, employees said they discovered that a team within the company was creating the new tool for the custom Google Chrome browser installed on all workers’ computers and used to search internal systems. The concerns were outlined in a memo written by a Google employee and reviewed by Bloomberg News and by three Google employees who requested anonymity because they aren’t authorized to talk to the press.
The tool would automatically report staffers who create a calendar event with more than 10 rooms or 100 participants, according to the employee memo. The most likely explanation, the memo alleged, “is that this is an attempt of leadership to immediately learn about any workers organization attempts.”
Source: Deborah Barrington, CIO Dive, October 22, 2019
….Part of building a strong team, according to Jaime Roca, senior vice president, Gartner, during a panel at Gartner IT Symposium/Xpo, lies in the type of managers charged with the development and enrichment of employees. Roca is the co-author “The Connector Manager — Why Some Leaders Build Exceptional Talent and Others Don’t.”
A Gartner survey of 7,000 people asked how proficient they are in their current roles on a scale of 1-7, with 1 as the lowest and 7 as the highest degree of proficiency. The bulk of respondents, 70%, rated their skills between 1-5.
That means managers, already up against productivity goals, must find time and opportunity to upskill the people who report to them.
There are four basic types of manager, said Roca on Monday:
– Teachers: Managers who develop employees’ skills based on their expertise. Expect teachers to steer employee development on a track that matches their skills and experiences.
– Cheerleaders: This style of manager takes a mostly hands off approach and offers very supportive feedback.
– Always on: Opposite of hands off. This group provides feedback and coaching constantly.
– Connectors: This is the ideal management style for developing talent. These leaders give feedback that aligns with their area of expertise. Where they stand out is in their ability to connect people who can offer strength in a variety of skills. Connectors join people on the same team, but can reach out to the broader organization or outside of the organization to match people who have complementary skills.
According to Roca, one of these types is toxic — and it likely isn’t the one most would guess. ….
Source: Jessi Streib, Jane Rochmes, Felicia Arriaga, Carlos Tavares, Emi Weed, Social Problems, Advance Access, October 9, 2019
From the abstract:
Hiring managers and segments of the American public believe that white, black, and Hispanic job-seekers present distinct soft skills to employers. Sociologists have not tested this belief and provide competing theories about whether it is likely to be true. Structural theories maintain that different resources and networks inhibit racial groups from displaying similar non-technical skills and experiences, while cultural approaches posit that all groups can access and display a variety of soft skills. Based on a content analysis of 1,124 applications that white, black, and Hispanic job-seekers used to apply for the same job, we find little evidence supporting the belief in racial distinctions in soft skills. Instead, white, black, and Hispanic applicants in our sample presented the same top reasons for applying, the same top personal characteristics, the same top college activities, and were equally likely to follow professional norms. We discuss the generalizability of our findings and their implications for theories of access to these skills.
Source: Jeffrey W Snyder, Andrew Saultz, Rebecca Jacobsen, Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, Volume 29, Issue 4, October 2019
From the abstract:
Performance management reforms are a popular way to try to create responsive and improving government. These types of reforms have become commonplace in education policy and the Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory (JPART) has been one of the leading venues for research on these topics. However, under-analyzed are the ways in which performance management policies represent antipolitical bent to education reform. We outline an argument that avoiding political decisionmaking in favor of reforms that create authoritative or purportedly neutral data risks undertaking policy change are not as meaningful as hoped. We select eight articles that represent research on performance management broadly and are thought provoking for a broader consideration of performance management in education policy.
Source: Francesca Gino, Harvard Business Review, November–December 2019
Ask any leader whether his or her organization values collaboration, and you’ll get a resounding yes. Ask whether the firm’s strategies to increase collaboration have been successful, and you’ll probably receive a different answer. ….
One problem is that leaders think about collaboration too narrowly: as a value to cultivate but not a skill to teach. Businesses have tried increasing it through various methods, from open offices to naming it an official corporate goal. While many of these approaches yield progress—mainly by creating opportunities for collaboration or demonstrating institutional support for it—they all try to influence employees through superficial or heavy-handed means, and research has shown that none of them reliably delivers truly robust collaboration.
Source: Ethan Rouen, Harvard Business Review, October 17, 2019
You hear it all the time: companies touting employees as “their most valuable assets.” But under current accounting standards, that is simply false. By definition, employees are not assets since companies do not have control over them. Workers must convert raw materials – be they commodities or blank computer screens – into finished inventory to be paid, but if these workers want to quit, they can take their skills and training with them.
The distinction matters because it allows companies to hide behind platitudes and not disclose whether they invest in their workers in ways that promote long-term success. The current lack of disclosure related to employment practices prevents policy makers and investors from rewarding or punishing companies for how they actually treat their employees. Right now, there’s no universally accepted way to track the management of human capital. We need a new way to account for labor so that we can track and reward companies for how they actually treat their employees.
Source: Joan C. Williams, Sky Mihaylo, Harvard Business Review, November–December 2019
Companies spend millions on antibias training each year. The goal is to create workforces that are more inclusive, and thereby more innovative and more effective. Studies show that well-managed diverse groups outperform homogeneous ones and are more committed, have higher collective intelligence, and are better at making decisions and solving problems. But research also shows that bias prevention programs rarely deliver. And some companies don’t invest in them at all. So how can you, as an individual leader, make sure your team is including and making the most of diverse voices? Can one person fix what an entire organization can’t?
Although bias itself is devilishly hard to eliminate, it is not as difficult to interrupt. In the decades we’ve spent researching and advising people on how to build and manage diverse work groups, we’ve identified ways that managers can counter bias without spending a lot of time—or political capital.
The first step is to understand the four distinct ways bias plays out in everyday work interactions: (1) Prove it again: Some groups have to prove themselves more than others do. (2) Tightrope: A narrower range of behaviors is accepted from some groups than from others. (3) Maternal wall: Women with children see their commitment and competence questioned or face disapproval for being too career focused. (4) Tug-of-war: Disadvantaged groups find themselves pitted against one another because of differing strategies for assimilating—or refusing to do so.
The second step is to recognize when and where these forms of bias arise day-to-day. In the absence of an organizational directive, it’s easy to let them go unaddressed. That’s a mistake. You can’t be a great manager without becoming a bias interrupter. Here’s how to do it.